A Biblical Cup of Tea

Women’s ministry bringing its members together through faith and renewing hope during an online tea party

Jason Nordmark– 14th May 2020

Figure 1. A care package sent from the Women’s Ministry of St. John’s Anglican Church of Wilberforce, inviting members to attend an online tea party for all ages, Nordmark, Jason 9 May, 2020.

The global ramifications of COVID 19 can be considered a biblical moment in history. People’s lives have been disrupted, many events from concerts to exhibitions have been canceled, and a lot of people are starting to feel the melancholy of isolation. Church services are still running via virtual software such as Zoom; however, without the social aspect of having morning tea with the rest of the fellowship afterward, a part of the joyful experience feels missing.

The women’s ministry from St John’s Anglican Church in Wilberforce has always held annual events for their women members, such as fancy dress afternoon tea and Christmas dinner, as was advertised on St. John’s website in 2019. According to this ministry’s coordinator, Renee Gowing, they originally had plans for an afternoon tea event to be held sometime after Easter, but this had to be canceled due to COVID 19 related restrictions. But that soon changed after the ministry had a discussion, Renee says, “We realized we could still do it just online.”

In response to everyone’s isolation, the women’s ministry went to each of their members’ households and delivered a bag, each with a name-tag of a member. Each sack contained a teabag, a microwaveable chocolate mug cake mix, a personally written card, and an invitation to an online tea party for girls and women of all ages to be held Saturday 9th May at 3 PM via Zoom.

According to Renee, this was a seven-person team effort that included purchasing items, hand-making the cloth bags, writing out the cards, making the invites, and delivering them to members. The areas that members reside include Wilberforce, Freemans Reach, Ebenezer, Sackville, Glossodia, Bligh Park, Windsor, South Windsor, Richmond, North Richmond, Kurmond, Kurrajong and Kurrajong Heights. “We wanted to let everyone know we’re thinking of them,” Renee said.

During the event, invitees gathered online, had a cup of tea, ate cake, prayed, and also played games together. One set was a lucky door prize involving a random name picker, and another was a scavenger hunt where participants had to find specific items around their houses. There was also a PowerPoint that delivered the afternoon tea’s central theme, women in the Bible enduring strange times through faith. The presentation featured quotes about female biblical figures such as Esther, Sarah, Mary, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, and many more. Attendees found this quite supportive, while it appeared that their faith was unwavering in the face of the pandemic; these positive examples indeed renewed their hope.

“It was really encouraging to pray together and also hearing stories of how people – what they’re being taught through these COVID 19 times,” said Rebecca Sedorenko, aged 28, who attended the event with her mother, Julie. Rebecca works as a receptionist and administration assistant and said that the pandemic restrictions have prevented her from attending work regularly, seeing her colleagues, and of course, attending church in person. She was complimentary of the afternoon tea. “It was really encouraging for me to hear those stories. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together.”

The day after this event, a public service announcement was posted on the NSW Government website saying that NSW will be easing COVID 19 restrictions this Friday 15th May and that religious gatherings in a place of worship will be allowed for up to ten people.

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You can also find me on youtube as jasonseacord at https://youtube.com/@jasonseacord

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