Thursday 19th March, 2020

Dear friends,

We live in rapidly changing times, and we understand that uncertainty and anxiety is high for many people. In these times we can be thankful that ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46).

In light of our government’s announcement of restrictions of public gatherings, and in conjunction with updated Anglican church guidelines we are making some changes to our youth ministry programmes for the foreseeable future.

All public church gatherings (including youth groups) have been suspended until further notice.

Especially during this time of uncertainty we want to ensure that our young people don’t simply ‘give up’ on encouraging one another and sharing in Christian community. As a result we are implementing the following changes.

1. Friday Night Youth Groups

From this Friday 20th March, until further notice, both our Friday night youth groups (Fixes and Impact) will not be meeting together in person. Instead, commencing this week we will be offering an online livestream of youth group. In many ways it will be different to a ‘regular’ night of youth group, but these are not ‘regular’ times in which we’re living.

This will be offered through both the St Stephen’s Youth Facebook and Instagram accounts. If you are on Facebook and/or Instagram now would be a great time to follow us there (especially if your children do not have social media accounts). We’d love to partner with you in encouraging our youth to still set aside Friday evening from 7.30pm as youth group time.

This could be a great opportunity to engage with youth group as a family – parents and siblings of all ages will be most welcome to join in.

2. Word at 10am and 5pm

Word is our small group ministry for those in years 7-8. As we are also moving our Sunday services to online engagement, our Word groups will not be meeting in person until further notice.

3. Wednesday night Youth Bible study

Our Wednesday night Bible study groups for years 9-12 will also not be meeting in person until further notice. We’re currently working on some alternative ways to encourage gathering in a safe online environment for Bible study.

4. Shift 2020

It is with immense sadness that we need to announce that Shift 2020 will be postponed, or possibly even cancelled. We will explore options in the coming weeks as the Coronavirus situation unfolds. Registration for camp has been suspended. For those who have already registered – rest assured that full refunds will be provided if camp is cancelled (or if postponed and the new dates are not suitable for your family).

5. Ministry Staff and Youth Leaders

Our staff team are working tirelessly in this constantly changing environment, and will continue to work to keep you informed about any further changes. Our teams of fantastic youth leaders will continue to provide ‘front-line’ support for your children during this time, through appropriate online communications.

Please bear with us as we implement these new measures, and as we learn and adapt to what youth ministry looks like when we can’t meet face-to-face.

I am very happy to chat further with any of you – whether that is in relation to the specifics of these changes, or if you’d simply like to chat about how you or your children are coping.

Chris Jones

(Youth Minister)

0402 251 234