Church Statement on COVID-19

All of us are deeply concerned about how this how this disease will affect us. Our national leaders encourage us to hope and to overcome but they are clearly aware that this disease will continue to prove fatal with perhaps many more fatalities, causing misery among loved ones. Your Pastor and the Leadership team know that we all need to be provided for and supported through the difficulties that lie ahead.  Our Lord knows this even more so. Some of us may become very ill and some may even die. That is what our government and their wise advisors believe – and some of them are Christians. We should remember them in our prayers.

We have been praying and carefully considering how to proceed. As with many Christians at this time, we read our Bibles and discover that others before us have experienced problems like ours and found that God protects and provides. We believe that our experience will confirm that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps.46:1) and we will hear the Lord say “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” (Isaiah 43:1ff).

We are writing to share our plans for dealing with COVID 19.

We believe that our church only exists because God has established it. He has brought us through many difficulties, many attacks of the evil one and has provided for our needs in this wilderness of a world. This being so we can confidently trust in God to see us through as we look up to him in faith and make our prayers and requests known to him. It is on this basis that we assure you of our commitment to lead and steer our church through this crisis by God’s help and grace.

We are taught to give heed to the wise instructions and advice of government (Romans 13:1). In accepting and applying this advice, we will best protect your health and that of your families. So, we are now at the stage where our normal meetings will cease. We do not know when they will resume, but we expect this to be for a long period of time. This means no Community Groups, no Tots’ Time, no Open house, no Bible Exhibition next week, no Coffee Morning, no Men’s Breakfast etc. etc.

When it comes to Sunday services

The elders have, after careful consideration and prayer, decided to conduct the services at the church at the usual times without the congregation present and to set up arrangements for people to watch them live. We will be trialling this for the next 4 weeks. These will include the usual prayers, scripture readings and preaching plus (in the morning) the kids talk. Regarding hymns, each household should have a blue hymn book. We hope that during the services the accompaniment and words will be broadcast so people can sing along in their homes. We will be liaising with Mark W on how to provide ministry to the children in place of Sunday School.

 

In reaching this decision, we have felt that having the services live-streamed from the church building will provide a comforting element of normality as well as safely providing for worship, prayer and ministry of the word on the Lord’s day. The equipment can also remain on site for use.

 

Jim and Sam are meeting at the church today to work on the technology. They may need to acquire some equipment. Please pray for them. We hope that you will be able to watch the services in this way. We will update you with instructions on how to do this.

 

Where at all possible we will try to get you connected. If this is not possible, we will try to make arrangements for you to safely join another member nearby. Failing that, we will arrange to let you have a DVD or CD as soon as possible after the service so you can catch up.

 

For those who live on your own, we would encourage you to get together with another person to watch the service where this can be safely done.

 

We also hope to make our internet services known to other churches who may not be able to do their own and to our local communities. It will be necessary for those leading and speaking and the technicians (? and musician) to attend the building with hygiene measures in place.

 

Notices will be put up at the church to advise people of these arrangements. Please do reply if you have any queries or suggestions. We are aware that some of you may have a different view as to how we should proceed. To you we would say let’s see how it goes and commit to prayer and working shoulder to shoulder as we face the challenges and opportunities before us.

 

CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER

 

We will all be impacted by this in ways that most of us have never experienced before. We are particularly concerned for the elderly, isolated, single and those facing problems getting hold of the basic needs if life. We need to be aware of these needs and how we can help.

 

This caring should happen organically as we pray and are led by the love of God. The elders will also think carefully about how we can co-ordinate and oversee pastoral and practical care. We will update you on this.

 

CARING FOR OUR COMMUNITY

 

This situation presents us with a unique opportunity to show compassion and care for our neighbours – around the church and where we live. Sam and Andy are tasked to produce a leaflet to distribute around the estate setting out our concern and making the church available and contactable for community care projects etc. This is ‘work in progress’. Please pray and offer suggestions.

 

We have also produced a neighbourly card that can be dropped through the letter box of neighbours who may need your help and to whom you can offer it. This is attached. Please use this wisely considering realistically what you can offer and keeping yourself safe.

 

In closing…

These are unique times. We did not expect them. But God, who knows the end from the beginning and is always at work, is still the Shepherd of all his sheep. He cares for us. Peter writes this in chapter 5 of his first letter:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It’s not always easy to walk by faith in these days. But this is just what Peter is urging us to do. May the Lord himself help us. And, if we are not able to meet face to face, may he help us to be inventive and find other ways to love and care for each other.

Yours sincerely,

 

The elders in consultation with our Deacons and Evangelist