Time has come to update you all. I do hope you are all happy and healthy at this very worrying time.
You will no doubt be aware that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have communicated that all public worship in our churches is suspended. The very clear message is that although we cannot gather for worship the church is still very much alive and open in other ways. We need to be church in a very different way!
So, for us here in The Parish of the Resurrection:
– there is no public worship – that is nothing on Sundays or midweek in our churches which gathers people together for worship and prayer.
– the three churches of The Holy Rood, All Saints and St Lawrence will continue to be opened daily as a place for people to find space for prayer, reflection and peace.
– Clergy are still allowed to meet for Morning Prayer and will continue to do so whilst they feel safe to do so.
– We need to be alert to the need of others – loving our neighbour. I met with other Alton Church leaders yesterday (we had our own Cobra Meeting). We have devised a simple help form which has been sent out to church members and will be available in our churches. It asks people to deliver them sensibly to those who live near offering to help with basic needs. Obviously there is no compulsion to do this and one can only do if well and not self-isolating. It has an Alton Churches email address on it which will be monitored daily by local ministers – this is to offer specific help if necessary. We will endeavour to respond positively and appropriately and may ask others to help if necessary.
– The Archbishops call for a day of prayer on Sunday. Although we cannot gather to do so, encouragement to light a candle, put them in windows to show hope whilst praying for our nation, those who grieve, those affected by the Coronavirus, those self-isolating. We will put out information about this.
– We will keep communicating through our email database and on social media – Philippa and Ellie are doing a marvellous job.
– We will find prayer, Bible and sermon resources to share and again these will be shared via email and social media.
– Funerals will still take place and we await further guidance – but it looks like we will do them with limited attendance with social distancing in place. If the situation worsens, as is likely, then that may change. I am in touch with Kemp & Stevens and Charles Read & Daughter to monitor the situation.
– Weddings can still take place. You only need 5 people to be legal – the couple, two witnesses and the minister. It may be that again we will be able to have a few close family/friends present with social distancing in place. I will be contacting all wedding couples booked between now and the end of September to talk through how we might conduct the wedding or if they want to postpone.
– Baptisms will cease.
– The two confirmations that we had planned will be rearranged with +David for a later date.
– The Parish Office is in operation with Philippa and Ellie still working at the moment but at some stage they will work from home. We are not open to the general public.
– All children and youth work is now cancelled.
– All non-essential meeting are cancelled. There will not be a PCC meeting on Wednesday 24th March.
– The Finance Committee Meeting scheduled for Thursday 19th March is also cancelled.
I think that is all for now – sorry that there is a lot to take in.
Please be assured of my prayers at this time. I will miss seeing you all but I am available by phone or email. I am not self-isolating but will let you know if that becomes the case.
I will keep you all up to date with further guidance as it arrives. Please look out for each other and for others in the community and if I can help with any of that then please let me know.
At this time we all need reassurance that God is still king of his creation and that Jesus is Lord of all. I encourage you simply to be faithful, to pray, to serve your neighbour where possible and to keep safe. I have found Psalm 27 to be a great reassurance and comfort – why not have a read if it yourself!
With blessing and love