Church services in the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) and around Fiji have been suspended in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
According to a statement signed by NZPUC leaders and released last night (March 19), all church buildings have been closed for services and meetings until further notice.
“All churches are encouraged to limit non-essential meetings and to use digital media to meet when necessary,” the statement said.
“We encourage church leaders to assist their members to meet in small groups for worship—that could include viewing Hope Channel and live-streamed services from your conference or mission.”
The statement also encourages members to use eGiving and direct deposits to return tithes and offerings; to seek immediate medical assistance if they have flu-like symptoms; to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines; and to give care and consideration to the elderly and other vulnerable people in the community.
“You will appreciate this is impacting the world in an unprecedented way and we are continuing to monitor government health guidelines and restrictions,” the statement said.
“This decision has not been an easy one to make and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation in these difficult times.”
The statement was signed by NZPUC president Pastor Eddie Tupa’i, secretary Graeme Drinkall, Cook Islands Mission president Pastor Eric Toleafoa, French Polynesia Mission president Pastor Roger Tetuanui, New Caledonia Mission president Pastor Felix Wadrobert, North NZ Conference president Pastor Ben Timothy and South NZ Conference president Pastor Mike Sikuri.
The Fiji Mission also released a statement yesterday, signed by general secretary Pastor Joe Talemaitoga, announcing that all church worship services have been suspended until further notice. Global Youth Day ministry and associated activities planned for this weekend have been cancelled.
All district Easter camps have been cancelled. Lautoka Adventist Primary School has been closed until further notice, but all other schools will remain open at this stage. The Fiji Mission office, Hope Studios and ADRA office in Suva are also remaining open.
Members are encouraged to tune into Hope Channel and Hope FM. They are also being urged to maintain a high level of personal hygiene.
Tomorrow (March 21) Fiji Mission will hold a special day of prayer, “praying for one another and our nation”.
“I write to you with unshakeable confidence in our God who was, is and will be faithful to the very end,” Pastor Talemaitoga said.
“We are a prophetic movement that ‘knows and understands the times that we live in’ (1 Chronicles 12:32). Therefore, you and I should be fearless, knowing that ‘God is our refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble’ (Psalm 46).”
Earlier this week (March 17) the Australian Union Conference released a statement recommending all churches suspend services until the end of April.