Having successfully halted community transmission of COVID-19, a fresh outbreak in New Zealand’s largest city prompted the government to place Auckland back in lockdown in early August. Schools and businesses reopened when the Auckland lockdown was lifted at the end of August, and face masks became mandatory on public transport across New Zealand.

Throughout the pandemic, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio has released several pastoral messages to reassure the churches and their members with God’s sovereignty and encourage them to hold on in faith.

“This pandemic, the invisible invader, is a game changer. The landscape has moved. Normality is no more. Almost everything has been turned upside down. There are powerful forces at play. Destruction, mayhem and annihilation is taking place. Our world and its many nations are being brought to their knees. The past speaks to us of such pandemics, the present tells us to work together, and the future is unknown,” wrote the Moderator in his September message.

Acknowledged that it would be easy to lose focus, become disoriented and feel overwhelmed by the restrictions, lockdowns, and life being put on hold, Rt Rev Kaio reminded them to “be still and know He is God” (Psalm 46:10), and to be rooted and established in Christ. Finally, he urged them to not lose the human touch even though physical meetings and contact are being relegated to the past, and to try to embrace the new era of virtual communication and technology.