I hope you are all well and are beginning to adjust and adapt to the changes in the lockdown arrangements.
Since I wrote to you last week, the Government has announced that churches are legally permitted to be open for private prayer from 13th June and the House of Bishops have provided guidance to provide for churches to be open for small funerals from 15th June, so long as Government guidelines are followed. They have stressed, as has Bishop Keith and the Archdeacons, that what they are offering is guidance only. This is what Bishop Keith said in his detailed briefing note of 12th June:-
"Please forgive the unoriginality of what follows but as I’ve been trying to make sense of the newly changing scenario, three “p’s” have come to mind!
Patience: if you’ve been using the hand prayer with Colossians 3:12, the last of the garments with which we clothe ourselves is “patience” (after, compassion, kindness, humility and meekness). There is no rush to respond. I hope people will understand that in order to follow the guidance about not leaving opened buildings unattended for example, this takes some organising, especially in relation to distancing and cleansing! So, let’s encourage a culture of patience, especially among any who will have wanted all this to happen yesterday.
Permissive: the new guidance is permissive, not prescriptive. Not everyone will be able to do this and there is no pressure to do what cannot be done. The new guidance is to help us with the next steps towards when church buildings can again be used for public worship and for us to do this safely without risk to ourselves or any others who come to our buildings. I am sure in deaneries and chapters we will find others’ experiences helpful as we try to plan this well. It will be so important that no Vicar or PCC feels they are on their own with this, that somehow everyone else has got this sorted and I/we haven’t. We are so much in this together. Again, there are stories on the website which may be of help, and I think it may be possible to make requests known in case there is anyone out there who can help with your particular challenge.
Prayer: so completely obvious, but I was struck by that reading from Luke 11:1-13 the other morning in which the Lord Jesus follows up his teaching of his prayer with the “how much more” will the heavenly Father answer prayer including the gift of the Holy Spirit. The challenge of any change, normal or not, is that we recognise that we cannot do this in our own strength. As I said last week thinking of the Lord Jesus’ invitation to “Come”, that coming invites us into relationship. As we come into that relationship we come into prayer and these new challenges and opportunities become the place and occasion for our asking, seeking, knocking."
As I said last week, the Facilities team are continuing to look at what we need to do to open the Church for private prayer and small funerals. This is, as I am sure you will realise, a very complicated matter – it’s not just a case of simply opening the door – and the advice and guidance is being constantly updated. The building must be more than safe for our users and those who will have to make the necessary arrangements to make it happen. the Facilities Team have therefore decided to meet weekly to keep things moving forward. Ultimately the decisions will have to be made jointly by myself and the PCC or Standing Committee. I ask for your prayers for all of us involved.
Meanwhile, we are continuing to develop our online activities. James will be leading our services tomorrow morning at 10.30am and 4.00pm. The morning’s service sheet is below
Nichola has offered to lead our children in an online group activity along the lines of ‘Messy Church.’ She has a great deal of professional experience in working with children as they explore their faith. The first one is going to be tomorrow.
Don't forget the weekday services at 10.00am and 4.00pm, Bible Study on Wednesday at 7.30pm and Coffee Morning on Thursday at 10.45am. Please contact us at [email protected] if you wish to join.
The telephone number to listen to and catch up on Sunday morning service will be available from 2.00pm on Sunday and for the rest of the week is:- <span style="font-size: 1rem;">01925 568220</span>
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss any of the above, or any other concerns you may have. I am keen to ensure that you get clear and unambiguous information about how our Church community is responding to the current situation and how we are planning for the future.
With God’s blessing,