It is with sadness and after much prayer and discussion that Revd David, the wardens and the ministry team, with the support of the PCC, have decided to suspend public worship with immediate effect as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown. We, along with many other churches in the deanery, the diocese and the country at large, have sought a special dispensation from our bishop to allow us to hold online services only.
Churches in other parts of the UK have been told to remain closed and advice from the bishops encourages us not to meet in person where we can meet online.
We will review the situation in the middle of February, and decide whether or not it is safe to resume worship, taking full notice of Government, medical and Church of England advice.
Regular services will continue online – a 10am livestreamed service on Sunday mornings and a 10am BCP Spiritual Communion on Wednesdays (both available via our website - https://www.stbartholomews.co.uk/ - and on our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/StBartsOtford), plus a message for young people will continue to appear on our website on Sunday mornings.
We are surely all aware that we are both in the most dangerous phase of the current pandemic with a dramatic rise in numbers diagnosed and yet at a hopeful time with the increasing availability of vaccines and testing.
It is a very serious concern that hospitals in our area have more COVID patients than in the first wave. We know that those churches which have been open up to now (including ours) have taken strenuous precautions to ensure the safety of those attending but the new strain poses a much greater threat which can be avoided if people observe the ‘Stay at Home’ message from the Government.
We appreciate that attendance at church for many is important for their well-being, and we hope that it won’t be too long before we can return more safely to face-to-face worship.
May God grant us patience in this waiting period, and that we may know his peace and presence with us in the anxiety we may feel and use us to encourage and support one another.
The church will be open for private prayer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am–3pm and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11.30am.