Lutherans at Hermannsburg in Central Australia have been saddened by the loss of community worship and particularly holy communion, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says Pastor Neville Doecke.
Pastor Neville and Western Aranda (Arrarnta) Pastors Marcus Wheeler and Rodney Malbunka serve members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and the surrounding communities of the Finke River Mission (FRM). ‘We have been in lockdown and have to have our own “church” with our family in our homes’, Pastor Neville says.
Bethlehem church members Lily and David Roennfeldt and others have been making home ‘Pepa’ devotion sheets in the local Aboriginal language. Also, Sunday school activities have been prepared. These are left in the FRM Store for families to collect.
In the lead-up to Palm Sunday, young local Seymour gave out palm branches at the store and devotional materials were handed out. For those with internet access, a YouTube devotional video featuring the pastors and members of the church choir was made telling the story of Maundy Thursday. On Good Friday, Pastor Neville and his wife Heather towed a trailer around, giving out home ‘Pepa’ sheets and praying.
Each day of Easter, a whiteboard highlighted the day. On Easter Sunday it bore the words: ‘Jesua kamerraka’, which means ‘Jesus has come back to life again’.
Pastors Neville, Marcus and Rodney have also been keeping in touch with people by phone and praying for families. ‘God is still with us during this mixed-up time’, Pastor Neville says.