In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.
I said in an earlier post that COVID-19 is a fast changing landscape and so it has proved. These are unprecedented circumstances and the suspension of services will clearly have an impact on Mothering Sunday, the Team Service on 29 March and our Easter Celebrations. This will also affect services across the Parish as well as midweek Communion at Saint Mary’s. However, this suspension does not affect Weddings and Funerals.
It is a significant challenge for us to think of imaginative ways in which we can continue to function as a church community without a central meeting to bring us together. It may be that regular ‘Thought for the Day’ videos can be uploaded as a way for some of us to keep in touch with the wider church family. We often talk about re-imagining our mission and ministry, now is the time to start doing something about it!
HOME GROUPS I’m guessing that Home Groups will continue to meet during this time and these will, more than ever, provide a place for Worship. Bible Study, Prayer and Fellowship. If you are not in a Home Group, now is probably a very good time to join one. You can read more details here and please see Pauline Woolnough Pauline.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
SAINT MARY’S Even though Billericay Churches are closed for public worship, Saint Mary’s in Billericay High Street is open for prayer each day from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm to enable folk to find a place of Prayer and Peace at this challenging time. Don’t worry if you are not sure how or what to pray, there are cards available to help you focus your thoughts. These will change as the days and weeks go by. We will, of course, be following guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
VULNERABLE PEOPLE The older you are, the more vulnerable you are to COVID-19 and we would like to reassure anyone who is in a vulnerable group that we are here to support you in anyway we can – practically and prayerfully. Please do let your Home Group leader or friends in our church family know and do let us know if we can be of any help or assistance in anyway. Please contact Sue Oakley, our Pastoral lead, if you have any concerns, about yourself or other members of our church family, on 07759 943336 or Goldielocks70@aol.com
We are going to come through this with a much stronger commitment to helping others who need help. This, in a tragic way, is probably the lesson we needed as a church, community and nation.
SYMPTOMS For anyone who shows any symptoms of Coronavirus, you should follow the Government’s advice and stay at home for the required minimum seven days. I can’t stress enough the importance of regular handwashing (20 seconds is recommended – as long as it takes to say ‘The Lord’s Prayer’) and good general hygiene all round.
This is a helpful graphic relating to ‘Social Distancing’.
NEIGHBOURS The Bishop of Saint Albans has suggested Four Golden Rules which are well worth taking note of. Can we encourage everyone to keep an eye out for church members who are self-isolating at this time as well as our neighbours who may also be in need of assistance too? Why not use one of these slips below which are available in the lobby? You can also download one here Coronavirus Neighbourhood Slip
KEEP ON KEEPING ON In the midst of all that is going on around us with the coronavirus pandemic, those who are self-isolating and those who are filled with anxiety and concern, let us remember, as we read in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Psalm 91 has some words of encouragement and comfort at this time. You may want to consider praying A Prayer For A Pandemic
This is a copy of the letter sent by the Archbishops to Anglican clergy – this was made public on social media, so I’m not breaking any confidences:
With love and prayers for you all