CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - 24 MARCH 2020
As the national situation develops, things are changing on a daily basis. However in response to the government step change we thought it would be helpful to give you an update on the planning here at Christ Church Little Heath
As you all know, the situation is changing almost every day, as the government responds to the best medical and scientific advice. Our Bishops and Archbishops similarly are listening and responding with the best interests of all at heart. Let me share with you the advice we are receiving and how we are continuing to swerve as a church family.
As I am sure you are all aware, the message from the Prime Minister was clear: stay at home unless you are a key worker, or are doing an essential task for yourself or for someone who is in isolation.
We have received further clarification today from the Archbishops:
Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own. We must take a lead in showing our communities how we must behave in order to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus.
So with immediate effect, our church buildings are and will remain closed until we are told that it is safe for them to be open again.
Many people have commented on how much they appreciated our first virtual service on Sunday. We will continue to stream a service every Sunday morning. If you have not had a chance to yet, you can view the service by clicking here.
We have received further clarification today from our own Bishop:
The Archbishops and Bishops have just issued an important letter. You will see that it underlines the national imperative that the call to stay at home means ‘staying at home’. We are therefore called to model this by shifting our worship out of our churches into our homes. So from this Sunday and until further notice we ask you to stream worship from your home to your parishioners.
What this means is that from now on we will not be able to record in the church building, but will be recording the various different elements in our different homes. This will inevitably give a different feel to the service. This won't affect the quality of what we do or the importance of our worship. For many hundreds of years the early church met in people's homes, and in many places around the world that is still the norm for Christians today. I am sure you don't need me to remind you that it is the attitudes of our hearts and the words on our lips that are significant, so let us continue to meet and worship together in our homes.
Encouraging One Another
Now that the majority of us are in lockdown, it is important that we find as many ways as we can to stay in contact with each other. We are defendant on technology for this, but let me suggest a few ways in which we can continue to do this as a church family.
It was great having the coffee and chat after the service on Sunday. A good number of people joined in, and we had different "rooms" that people went in to have smaller group chats. The link to this is on the church website, and it will be available every week.
The daily Bible readings are being done on Facebook live and are posted on our own church YouTube channel. We will be adding more and more content in the coming week, so do keep checking. We are also looking into ways in which our young people can meet safely together on line, and Altitude and Sunday Clubs can continue to encourage our children and young people in what are unsettling times for many with the change in routine.
Home groups are continuing to meet even though they are now doing so from individual homes. Maybe you haven't had time to before but think you would like to join a group that is meeting. Perhaps you would like to form a new one. Possibly, you could use the time to do Christianity Explored online with two or three others. If you would like to do any of these, then please speak to Chris Edwards about this.
We are also thinking about how we do other things: book group, midweek cafe, quiz nights, etc. If you have ideas as to what we might be able to do or would like to see happen, please do let me know. We are all learning how to do new things, so why not give something new a go?
If the technology is a bit frightening, why not ring up someone you know and see if you can work it out together - try a zoom call to each other to see if you can make it work. That will make it easier to join in with some of the other things going on. Let's also be especially mindful of those who don't have wifi and electronic gadgets. To give them a call and let them know what is going on. As the Archbishops say, we have to have a particular care for the vulnerable.
Caring for our Community
In the next few days we will be launching our community care program. Given the current lockdown, we are seeking permission to drop the above flyer through our neighbours doors to let them know that they can contact us for help if they don't know who else to turn too.
If you are able to help at all we would love to hear from you. Please do pass this number on to others around you. We will keep you informed as to what we have been able to do.
The Archbishops ended there letter today with these words:
These are unprecedented times. We are all having to get used to being the Church differently. It is not easy. However, our belonging to Christ has never been measured by the number of people in church on a Sunday morning but by the service we offer to others. Therefore, and despite these very harrowing restrictions, please do all that you can to minister to people safely, especially to the sick, the vulnerable and the poor.
With our thanks to you all for you are bearing at this extraordinary time. We know that God is with us and we pray with you that in the midst of all this pain and sorrow we can remain focussed on the One who gives us hope.
Whilst this letter was written to clergy, it is equally true for each and every one of us, as the ministry of the Church is the ministry of the whole people of God. Together we are called to be salt and light and serve Christ in our world. So let these thanks and the call to serve be for each one of us.