Message from the Rector

From the Rector                   Updated 23rd March 2020

Dear friends

Please be assured of my love and prayers at this difficult time.

I know that many are feeling worried and anxious and we will need to adapt to a rapidly changing situation in our communities, our nation and across the globe for some months ahead.

There are various things I would like to highlight.

As we have mentioned in the churches over the past two weeks, we are following the guidance of the Diocese and Church of England about Coronavirus and we are also mindful of any local and national public health advice.

We would ask you to be aware of the advice from the Government and Public Health England about your own need to stay healthy.   In this regard the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have stated that everyone should observe the instruction to stay at home, in accordance with the conditions as set out by the Prime Minster on Monday 23rd March.

As a result of this advice and guidance we will continue to look at ways in which we can support you and encourage one another in our worship and prayer.

Public Worship

The suspension of public worship has meant, as the archbishops have said, tht we will need “to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”

Prayer

Be assured that as clergy and ministers we will be praying daily for you.

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister on 23rd March we will have to comply with the decision that our church buildings, along with all places of worship, must remain closed for the time being.

There are various resources available online through which you can follow a pattern of daily prayer and Sunday worship.   There is a link to the relevant website in the ‘Prayer and Worship’ link on the benefice homepage.   Where relevant we will add our own prayer link on the website.

I also know there are many who wish to support their friends and fellow worshippers in prayer via the telephone, e-mail or social media.

Baptisms and Weddings

The guidance provided by the Church of England over the past few days about baptisms and weddings has been amended in light of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and the decision was made by the goverment on 23rd March that no church weddings and baptisms can currently take place.   Please contact me if you require further information, or are concerned about a baptism or a wedding that is due to take place shortly.

Funerals

We understand from the Prime Minster's statement that these may go ahead, but the numbers attending are to be restricted.  Please contact me as necessary.

Social gatherings and meetings

As we are all currently required to stay at home, these events are either cancelled or postponed.  Updates will be provided on the ‘Services and Events’ link.

Pastoral Care and Support

At a time like this, it's more important than ever that we draw on our strength as a benefice and do what we can to support one whether by telephone, social media, email or text.

I would like to offer the reassurance that our Pastoral Teams will do what they can, and if you have any particular concerns do please contact us.

One of the real challenges of ‘social distancing’ or self-isolation is that we can easily lose contact with one another and feel very lonely: there may, perhaps, be someone in the congregation whom you would like to pray for, or contact.

As all of us could be susceptible to this virus, or have our own health issues; we will need to take care about pastoral visiting, so please understand that there may be circumstances where support will need to be given by phone or e-mail rather than a personal visit.

Our observance of Holy Week and Easter is likely to be very different this year.   Yet what binds us is our faith in the love of God as shown to us in Jesus Christ: a love which endured much suffering and pain through the Cross – a love ‘so amazing, so divine.’

You may like to pray the following prayer (from the Church of England website):

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.   

God bless you, and may the everlasting arms of God enfold you, protect you and strengthen you.

Kathryn.