BBP Pastoral Directive No.31 – Looking Forward (4-Dec-2020)

Date: 4 December 2020

Pastoral Directive from Bishop Bernard Paul, DD (No. 31)


Dear Clergy and Lay Faithful of Malacca Johore Diocese,

The year 2020-2021 is a Call To Give Hope. The Covid-19 Pandemic is teaching us something. There are many views. The following are for us to see with eyes of faith, a sense of hope and a heart with renewed love for God and His people.

  1. The Covid-19 Situation is described as:
    1. A VUCA situation (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous); it may take 1 — 3 years to be over; it may be a marathon run.
    2. A spiking of a new generation, “the Covid-19 Generation” of angry, irritable, depress and suicidal young people.
    3. A grieving time of a grieving people.
    4. A time of the “new poor” (jobless, homeless) and “poor environment” (damaged and ravaged).
    5. A time of fear for the vulnerable children and elderly, and upsetting of normal education and growth processes.
  2. The Church’s Response: Supporting the Body of Christ, Giving Hope
    1. Prioritise Basic Protections
      1. Maintain 3Ws: Wear mask! Wash hands! Watch your distance!
      2. Avoid “super spreading situations” (air-cons, closed settings, crowded offices, church gatherings, choir singing, celebrations within church premises).
      3. Restrict church meetings: Create safety bubbles by separating the vulnerable; maintain both physical and digital church (focus on connection and relationship building); diversify leadership; return to the “house churches”.
      4. Postpone face-to-face, regular visits and short-term mission trips.
    2. Develop New Ministries and Approaches to Ministering:
      1. Establish effective digital churches: be authentic, connect, relate, care for being local, lead people to focus on Jesus; gather the young to teach the elderly regarding digital.
      2. Return to the “house churches”: within “fixed bubbles”; decentralise and empower more leaders; pastors become facilitators.
      3. Enable Maturing spiritually: from “recipient to becoming seekers” of God personally; offer self-maturing resources and guidance; form spiritual, word-centred leaders.
      4. Continue and Delegate Others to help: identify helpers from “same bubble” and “safe bubbles”; opt for safe ways to administer sacraments, even to homes and hospitals.
    3. From Reacting to Discerning: “Building Resilience With God”.
      1. Having a framework, a routine, a space that enables one to grow (called to live a Spiritual discipline).
      2. Develop attentive listening, creative solitude, appreciate and value the “little joys’; physical activities for personal well-being; reduce “screen time”; celebrate life; support one another.
  3. MJD’s Pastoral Focus for Parishes and Ministries for 2021
    1. Consolidate:
      1. Set-up strong PPC, PAT, PFC, Parish Office, to provide professionalism and proper management of both material and human resources (remove deadwoods, un-prophetic leaders, Yes-men etc.).
      2. Parish Plans must include Annual Parish Pastoral Assemblies or Annual Evaluation and Planning.
      3. Rebuild BECs, explore smaller units called house churches, create “safety bubble” groups.
      4. Consolidate the strong points, change what can be changed.
    2. Collaborate:
      1. Introduce team leadership. Team ministry, teamwork and sense of networking (complement not competition).
      2. Conduct quarterly assemblies recollections for all leaders (BECs, Ministries) to grow in V-M; learning from one another; for building bridges and bonding.
      3. Work to realise the ministries’, parishes’ targets – reflect the Diocesan-given directions.
      4. Familiarising with the Appreciative Inquiry Approach for evaluation and planning; PPA methodology and structures and systems that are life-giving to the parishioners and parish.
    3. Contextualise:
      1. Realise that a parish without the diocese does not exist nor is a legal entity.
      2. All Parish Priests, Assistant Parish Priests, and parishes or ministries are part of a Vicariate, a diocese, and the MJD’s V-M (Vicariate Clergy Meets, Vicariate Pastoral Councils, CMRs and ACDs) are compulsory, for belonging to the MJD. This is communion.
      3. The 4E is biblical and missionary. All ministries and parishes live mission (Evangelisation, IRD & IHD etc). Re-introduce and re-new the people via the 4E (Encounter, Enlighten, Empower and Evangelising).

Together Building His Kingdom,

+ Rt. Rev. Bernard Paul, D.D.
Bishop of Malacca Johore Diocese