Church of England Diocese of Worcester Stourport-on-Severn, St Michael & All Angels

Covid arrangements. From Rev Carey Saleh and the PCC.

Good morning everyone .

Having consulted with our churchwardens and both PCCs we've come to the decision that while the government has said that churches may remain open for worship during this Lockdown we will not be opening the churches in our Benefice. We feel it advisable to reduce any risk of further spreading the virus and to keep everyone as safe as possible by having all our services online only and not to meet physically.

Bishop John has been in touch to say that he will support every parish who feels that it is appropriate to remain closed.

We are set up to worship virtually and while it is not the same as meeting together it is in the current circumstances expedient to do so.

It enables us to worship safely - to sing our hearts out at home - and to reduce the chance of putting people at risk.

This extends also to funeral services in our church buildings. Funerals will continue at the Crematorium - and in special circumstances - a graveside service.

To keep everyone safe, to support the NHS and to be a witness to our community that we are doing everything we can to reduce the risk of spreading this virus we will remain closed for gathered worship in our buildings including funerals until at least after the half term holiday in February and then review. This will include our Ash Wednesday service which is during half term. I would be concerned about the safety of contact during imposition of ashes this year.

We will of course continue to worship together online and to pray for one another and our world.

The Church of England requires the following official wording:

The Vicar/Incumbent Rev'd Carey Saleh and the parochial church councils of the Benfice of Stourport and Wilden acting jointly authorise dispensing with the reading of Morning and Evening Prayer as required by Canon B 11 and the celebration of the Holy Communion as required by Canon B 14 on the following occasions: Sunday 10th January to (at least) Sunday 21st February or until the end of Lockdown if it should be extended beyond that date. The reason for the dispensation is that in the light of the Government's guidance on preventing the spread of Coronavirus, there is no church in the benefice which can be used safely for public worship on those occasions. Our worship will continue regularly online every Sunday during that time."

The wording is connected to the buildings rather than any minister because it is the building that remains closed. The work of ministry continues in whatever way we can manage safely from home.

Can I also point out that the Church of England has recommended that in the current exceptional circumstances people do not travel beyond their own parish to worship in another church building should a neighbouring parish church remain open. So please can I ask you to be guided by that.

Thinking and praying for each one of you and those you love during these difficult weeks ahead.

Christ be with you

Rev'd Carey Saleh

Vicar of Stourport and Wilden