Church during coronavirus restrictions

Dear All,

The whole world is experiencing an unprecedented situation because of the Covid-19 virus.  We are all in quite unfamiliar territory, but we know we must do everything possible to protect ourselves and others from infection by the virus.  So, things are going to be different for a while, but the Church of England is NOT shutting down!  This is an opportunity for us to find different ways to "be and do" church for the duration of the emergency and I believe that we will emerge stronger as a result. The Church of England is closely monitoring Government and Public Health England advice and the following measures are being taken with immediate effect until further notice.  The latest advice from the Church of England can be found here:

All Regular Public Worship Services & Other Meetings Are Suspended This means there will be no publicly accessible Sunday or Weekday services.  The Lent Groups, Afta8z and Fellowship Fridays, Choir and Music Group Practice and Bell Ringing etc will no longer meet.  In addition, all Parochial Church Council, Standing Committee and Wardens' meetings will be held digitally.  The Church and Community Centre is now effectively closed and the Parish Office will be closed to visitors, but will respond to emails and 'phone calls.

Mothering Sunday (22 March) This Sunday is a special day for families and it will just not be the same with the social distancing that we are all being asked to adopt and also because receiving a posy of flowers is a much loved church tradition.  The church will be open from 2.00 pm until 3.00 pm and there will be flowers in vases in the church porch to be given as signs of life and hope.  Please help yourselves.

Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals Weddings can still go ahead, but must be with only the legal minimum number of people present.  This means, bride, groom, priest and two witnesses only. Funerals will still be taken, but with only immediate family present. For all these services, Organists and Vergers and any others normally involved will not be able to attend.  We will however, be able to make use of electronic music and will do our best to enable live streaming or recording.

Pastoral Visiting It has been decided that due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, pastoral visiting can only take place in the most extreme circumstances and subject to the most stringent precautions.  This means that in the majority of cases visits will be replaced by 'phone calls.  There is going to be a lot of work for the Pastoral Ministry Team to do keeping in touch with people electronically and by 'phone, so I am appealing for volunteers to help spread the load.  Also, there are many older and elderly people in our community who will need help getting in essential shopping.  Perhaps you could volunteer to get in some extra shopping and drop it off on their doorstep to help them out?  If you'd like to volunteer or if you find that you need help with your shopping or would value the occasional 'phone call, please reply to this email to let me know.

Access to St John's The church will be open every day at advertised times for those wishing to say their prayers, light candles, reflect and meditate.  Please use the handwash provided when you enter and exit and follow social distancing guidelines at all times such as sitting at least 2 metres apart. Morning and Evening Prayer will continue to be said privately in church at 9.30 am and 5.30 pm on weekdays and there will be a private celebration of Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sundays. A small group is currently working on methods of live streaming these services so that we can all take part from our homes.  Even though we cannot worship together, we can still make a "spiritual communion" on Sundays by following the service and receiving Christ inwardly in a spiritual sense, without physically receiving the bread and wine.  We can maintain spiritual solidarity with one another by praying at the same time each day and Bishop Christopher asks that we make a point of lighting a candle at 1.00 pm and 7.00 pm each day and praying the Lord's Prayer.

Our Christian faith is in a loving and faithful God who brings light to the darkness, leads his people through life's terror's and ultimately brings life out of death.  That powerful and transformative love is what we are preparing during Lent to celebrate at Easter and it is by our service to others at this time that Jesus Christ will be made known powerfully in the world. With Love and Prayers, John

A Prayer For All Those Affected By Coronavirus:

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.