Date: 4 December 2020
Pastoral Directive from Bishop Bernard Paul, DD (No. 31)
BISHOP’S LOOKING FORWARD
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.
- The Covid-19 Situation is described as:
- A VUCA situation (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous); it may take 1 — 3 years to be over; it may be a marathon run.
- A spiking of a new generation, “the Covid-19 Generation” of angry, irritable, depress and suicidal young people.
- A grieving time of a grieving people.
- A time of the “new poor” (jobless, homeless) and “poor environment” (damaged and ravaged).
- A time of fear for the vulnerable children and elderly, and upsetting of normal education and growth processes.
- The Church’s Response: Supporting the Body of Christ, Giving Hope
- Prioritise Basic Protections
- Maintain 3Ws: Wear mask! Wash hands! Watch your distance!
- Avoid “super spreading situations” (air-cons, closed settings, crowded offices, church gatherings, choir singing, celebrations within church premises).
- 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”.
- Postpone face-to-face, regular visits and short-term mission trips.
- Develop New Ministries and Approaches to Ministering:
- 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.
- Return to the “house churches”: within “fixed bubbles”; decentralise and empower more leaders; pastors become facilitators.
- Enable Maturing spiritually: from “recipient to becoming seekers” of God personally; offer self-maturing resources and guidance; form spiritual, word-centred leaders.
- 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.
- From Reacting to Discerning: “Building Resilience With God”.
- Having a framework, a routine, a space that enables one to grow (called to live a Spiritual discipline).
- 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.
- Prioritise Basic Protections
- MJD’s Pastoral Focus for Parishes and Ministries for 2021
- 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.).
- Parish Plans must include Annual Parish Pastoral Assemblies or Annual Evaluation and Planning.
- Rebuild BECs, explore smaller units called house churches, create “safety bubble” groups.
- Consolidate the strong points, change what can be changed.
- Introduce team leadership. Team ministry, teamwork and sense of networking (complement not competition).
- Conduct quarterly assemblies recollections for all leaders (BECs, Ministries) to grow in V-M; learning from one another; for building bridges and bonding.
- Work to realise the ministries’, parishes’ targets – reflect the Diocesan-given directions.
- 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.
- Realise that a parish without the diocese does not exist nor is a legal entity.
- 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.
- 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