Church of England Diocese of Blackburn Penwortham

LETTER FROM THE VICAR CONCERNING LATEST CHURCH CLOSURE NOTICE

9 Jan 2021, 12:30 a.m.

Dear Parishioner and community in Penwortham, 9th  January, 2021

COVID 19 – NATIONAL LOCKDOWN – CLOSURE OF ST MARY’S CHURCH FOR COMMUNAL WORSHIP

THE SUNDAY 10.15AM SERVICE WILL CONTINUE TO BE STREAMED ON ZOOM

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a vast increase in the number of people who have been diagnosed with one or other of the COVID virus strains. This was not solely restricted to the South of England but throughout the country with infection rates increasing up to four-fold in Lancashire and the North West, despite total lockdown 3 now in operation.

A letter signed by Lancashire’s Directors of Public Health on 7th January was made public yesterday and I quote:

“As Directors of Public Health representing Lancashire, we are strongly advising all faith communities to pause communal prayer and worship during the lockdown period, to reduce the possible spread of the new COVID variant.

“We’re seeing increasing number of cases in Lancashire, and worrying number of people hospitalized from COVID, as well as increasing numbers of deaths. NHS and hospital capacity is under enormous strain across Lancashire”

The full letter’s contents can be viewed following this link https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/latest-news/letter-lancashires-directors-public-health-about-communal-prayer-and-worship-during-lockdown

During the course of yesterday and today, a number of Faiths across Lancashire have agreed to pause communal prayer and worship during this lockdown period. The Bishop of Burnley appeared on BBC Northwest yesterday evening and pointed out that some churches within the Diocese had already taken the decision to close for communal worship but added that Bishop’s nationally will be discussing the situation next week before they decide what to do next.

Today, the Government launched a nationwide appeal for people to stay at home as if they had the virus. The Church Standing Committee, consisting of the Vicar, the three Churchwardens and two lay members of the PCC, have unanimously agreed that the church will be closed for all communal worship with immediate effect. The Sunday 10.15am service will continue to be streamed using Zoom and the link to access this service will be sent out every week on the Saturday by email to all parishioners as well as being put on the church website.

David Thornton has rung everyone who has attended either the 8.15am or 10.15am Sunday services recently to make them aware as some of them are not on email. It would be helpful if parishioners receiving this letter could inform those whom they know are not on email of our decision to close the church for communal worship during this lockdown.

With every blessing from your Vicar Chris