27 Mar 2020 Pastoral Note

27 Mar 2020

Dear Frankelites,

Further to our Pastoral Note on 25 Mar 2020, please note the following update following a dialogue session Elder Jim attended between Singapore church leaders and Minister Grace Fu, MCCY and MOH on 26 Mar 2020:

We have decided to also suspend all physical cell group gatherings .

Although cell groups within 10 are technically allowed, our sense is that it fulfils the ‘letter’ but not ‘spirit’ of the measure. Minister Grace Fu strongly urged church leaders to fully cooperate by encouraging our members not to gather physically in cells but to stay home, thereby significantly reducing the risks of further spread. These multiple “mini-lockdowns” (not just churches but in other centres) are to avoid a “full lockdown” which will have major ramifications/impact on the whole of Singapore.

Our decision:

1. No cell groups are to physically gather (even within limit of 10).

2. We will all participate in the worship service online on Sundays, as individuals or families.

3. We will all continue to gather as cells via teleconferencing platforms like ZOOM.

4. This applies to ALL cells and ministries – including those groups already smaller than 10 and all Youth Service groups. Also, no 1-on-1 face to face physical meetings and no informal cell group socials too.

These measures are necessary in the light of the critical time in the spread now and the facts about the nature of the virus. For example, the virus stays active 2-3 days outside the body on surfaces if not disinfected. Also the risk increases exponentially for those aged 60 and above.

In response:

● Let us fully cooperate and support the government & healthcare workers’ efforts.

● Let us worship & encourage each other from our homes through whatever way we can: phone calls (to seniors), text messages , meet via ZOOM , worship together online as a family (including your Christian domestic helper).

● Let us step up prayers to our great and faithful God to be merciful and heal our land as we come in humble repentance (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Shalom!

Elder Alex
Chairman, BFEC

PASTORAL NOTE ON COVID-19 FROM THE CHURCH COUNCIL (UPDATE 20 March 2020)

QUESTION 1: What if I or my family members are issued a Stay Home Notice (SHN), Quarantine Order (QO) or Leave of Absence (LOA)?

Being away from church but still connected

If you have directly received a QO or SHN from MOH ( MOH | News Highlights) OR if you fall under the LOA category of MOE pertaining to returning staff and students, (Press Releases), you must adhere to the relevant measures stipulated.

If you are a family member (not issued with any of these), you are not required to practice LOA. However, you may choose to do so as an additional precaution.

If you were not issued any SHN from the authorities but have recently returned from any country, we ask that you consider a 14-day self-imposed LOA.

When you are not attending church services, we encourage you to join us via live stream: bfec.org.sg/sermons

Who to inform first?

Fang Fang: fangfang.tan@bfec.org.sg / 6449 7047

Shirley: Shirleysoo@bfec.org.sg / 6449 7215

If you have received QO, LOA or SHN from MOH/MOE, please inform your church leaders via sister Tan Fang Fang or Shirley Soo.

Please do this FIRST before even informing any other church or cell member. We understand it can be a confusing experience for you or your family. We will help you navigate by extending guidance and prayer, so as to provide pastoral care and reduce undue alarm in others.

Visit this link for more info: Things to know if you’ve been issued a Stay-Home Notice https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/faqs

QUESTION 2: Given the call to practice social distancing (as a means to lower risk of transmission within our community), should cell groups continue to meet?

As long as we are not in Dorscon Red, there is no need for non-seniors to avoid meeting in small groups physically. While we have been clearly instructed to practice social distancing, we as a church must not forget our privilege to cultivate spiritual proximity. We must draw near to our Lord and stay abiding in Him. We are also to obey the scriptural injunction not to forsake regular fellowship.

At the present time, we urge cell groups, as far as practicable, not to stop gathering physically so long as adequate measures are put in place (e.g. sit apart, don’t extend meeting time, practice personal hygiene, etc).

Seniors, those unwell, or those on SHN, LOA, QO are encouraged, wherever possible, to be connected virtually to the group or each other (via Zoom, Google meet, Skype).

Cell leaders – Please consult your shepherd if you or your group has any query or concern.

QUESTION 3: With the current and anticipated spike in COVID-19 infection, will our church be making any revisions to the way we gather for worship services?

Government advisory to churches

In a recent meeting with church leaders, the Coordinating Minister advised against the blanket suspension of worship services. Only churches with contact with those infected need to suspend for disinfection. He added that it would serve little purpose in stopping the spread when the rest of society was still open. The main means of transmission is close contact with an infected person (through droplets picked up or via touching of surfaces).

MOH emphasizes the maintaining of safe distances and the limit of 250 per gathering in any social gathering (be it in church, at cell, when speaking with another in person).

Except for families, there must be a space of at least 1m between worshippers. We are also encouraged to reduce singing time (to reduce spreading of droplets) in favour of more public reading of the word.

In view of the above, and despite how other denominations/congregations may presently decide, we will prayerfully continue to participate in worship services in church each week for our usual services.

Option to meet as a cell on Sunday

From Sunday 29 March, while church services will continue, we will offer cells the opportunity to plan to gather in homes and join the church via live stream on Sunday.

Cells on steward-duty will still need to serve at the church service. Other cells that choose this option may choose to do this on every Sunday, on alternate weeks or on certain weeks each month.

To illustrate: If your cell wishes to meet this way, they can join in at 8am or 10am on Sunday, followed by a time of Bible Study discussion. So during this time, if your cell currently meets on a weeknight, you can opt to meet once like this on Sundays instead. Please discuss this with your cell leader. This is a suggestion and not mandatory.

If your cell chooses to gather this way, you will need to arrange for Lord’s Supper implements on your own (bread, juice, cups). For Offering, we encourage those meeting this way to give to the Lord regularly via cheque or the digital means (digital banking or paynow). Details to be provided.

If you would like to take the opportunity to be a part of a cell group now, please contact Shirley Soo (shirleysoo@bfec.org.sg) who will link you up with one of the cells that choose to meet this way.

Note: The Chinese Ministry service and Youth service will continue to gather as they do presently, with various internal safeguards already in place.

QUESTION 4: How about my children in KSS/JSS?

KSS/JSS will continue to meet in classes as they have been doing so. If your cell opts to worship at one of your member’s homes, you need to arrange within your cell for a time of devotion for the children present. To assist you, KSS and JSS will arrange for resources to be made available for your use. Please understand that this will take some time to arrange.

QUESTION 5: What if the situation comes when our church is told not to meet as a big group?

We pray that day does not come as it means we have had encountered an infection. In the event that the need does arise, we will live stream services during those Sundays. Further announcements will be given at such a time.

Church, let us continue to trust our Lord, do our part to practice good hygiene and social distancing while bearing in mind the privilege and need for spiritual proximity.

From the BFEC Church Council

Social Distancing Measures (issued on 14 March 2020)

ALL services and ministries:

Be seated more spaced/spread out. Maximum 2 or 3 people in a pew/row.

Stick to attending either 8am or 10am service (to reduce spread and limit contact tracing in view of community spread and anticipated spike).

We will endeavour to end the 8am, 10am and Chinese Ministry Services 20-30mins earlier so as to ensure reduced possibility of the intermingling of members between services.

Breakfast (after 8 am Service) and CafeLEAF (after 10 am Service) will be suspended from 22 March.

KSS & JSS ministries to follow the reduced service timing in tandem.

Update of Personal Particulars for contact tracing & pastoral care

Members are requested to provide your updated address/mobile/home telephone contacts.

Regular non-members to do so as well if you have yet to submit your particulars.

You can do so at the church office after Sun Service or email details to bfec@bfec.org.sg

Visitors: Please furnish your particulars before entering the Sanctuary. Fill up the hardcopy form outside the Annex or online form bfec.sg/trace

Step By Step Guide in this COVID-19 Situation (issued on 8 Mar 2020)

BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

  1. Stay Home Notice
    Please obey any stay-home notice or quarantine orders issued by the authorities.
  2. Unwell? Stay Home
    See a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms (eg cough, sore throat), fever (above 37.5), vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.
  3. Join our Live-Stream
    If home-bound, join us online at 10am each Sunday at bfec.sg/sermons

AS YOU ARRIVE

  1. Contact Tracing
    If you are a visitor, please furnish us your particulars for the purpose of contact tracing at bfec.sg/trace
  2. Temperature Checks
    Make your way to one of the stations outside the Main Sanctuary or Annexe to have your temperature taken.
  3. Clean Hands
    Wash your hands with soap or use the sanitizers before entering

DURING SERVICE

  1. Mask-Up
    Should you start to cough or sneeze during service, please use a mask.
  2. Lord’s Supper & Offering
    Use hand sanitizer before Lord’s Supper and after Offering

AT ALL TIMES

  1. PRAY
    Let us continue to look to the Lord in daily prayer at 2020hr (8.20pm).
  2. LOVE
    Let us also show love and care to others.