Sadly we are in the opening days of a new Lockdown. The Pandemic statistics are grim reading and the numbers of people in hospital and with Covid-19 are at the highest at any point so far. Thankfully, a light that shines in the darkness is the roll out of the vaccines and we keep that process, all involved with it, and all receiving it, in our prayers. May it be speedy, safe, and effective.
Covid-19 is in our area, and not insignificantly. It is a very real threat to all of us. The core message of the new lockdown is clear – we must all stay at home if at all possible.
Unlike in previous lockdowns, the government has not chosen to close the church buildings. Instead, that decision has been left to churches themselves, to take in view of local context.
Yesterday I discussed and considered our response with Churchwardens and the Area Dean, taking into account our core congregation demographic, advice from the Diocese, and the tenet of the lockdown that has started. Here is a link to the letter recently sent from Bishop Ruth - <font color="#000000" face="Book Antiqua, serif">https://www.bathandwells.org.uk/2021/01/take-worship-online-where-possible-as-lockdown-begins/</font>
I have therefore agreed in principle that until further notice we are suspending all public worship in churches, which includes all Sunday services and midweek Holy Communions. I have also attended a Zoom meeting for the Archdeaconry this afternoon and can confirm that this is very much the position for the great majority of churches in the Diocese. I will be writing to PCC members tomorrow for their formal consent to the suspension.
However, we will endeavour to keep churches open once a week, as we have been doing, for private prayer. This time is only for people to be able to sit in the church building for their own devotions.
It is imperative that in these times we keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible.
Here is a summary of the general lockdown conditions that we must all observe except where specific exemptions apply (such as ‘bubbles’):
· Everyone must stay at home.
· If working, this should be from home only if possible.
· Exercise outside should start and finish from your home.
· We can only meet with one other person outside our homes.
· We cannot make home visits to others either inside or outside.
· We should not be travelling outside of our villages unless absolutely necessary.
Here is a link to the detailed wording:
With regards to visiting a church for private prayer, please follow instructions as published in the churches but taking particular care as to the following:
· Do not visit with anyone from outside your own household.
· Do not attend if you are unwell in any way
· There must be a 2m social distance between you and others at all times
· There must be no interaction with others.
Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals:
In line with the lockdown restrictions we will only offer weddings and baptisms on an emergency basis and with numbers limited to 6 attending.
Funerals are able to take place as more recently in the pandemic, and numbers allowed will be assessed on a church-by-church basis at 2m social distancing up to the maximum allowed ‘cap’ of 30.
Although we are not able to worship together in church, we can do so remotely. A Sunday service will be available each week online, alternating weekly as a live Zoom service and pre-recorded video service. There will also be our normal Thursday evening Zoom services during term-time.
Here is a poem from Gerard Manley Hopkins that speaks of the light of hope in the darkness:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.