Most of you will know that Lindsay and I have been away on sabbatical and had planned to be away until the beginning of May. However, we have ended our sabbatical early because of the developing Coronavirus crisis. We felt we wanted to be back here with you all
I’m sure that many of you, like us, listened with great interest and attention to all that the Prime Minister said on Monday and when he announced that we were strongly advised not to go to pubs, clubs and theatres it raised in everyone’s minds the question of what that would mean for churches.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed now that the Government’s new social distancing guidelines do apply to places of worship, something that the Church of England have now applied to all services. (Church of England website. ). He also advises that people avoid gathering with friends and family but instead keep in touch by phone and the internet. Therefore we have to announce that St John’s Church will be ceasing all Sunday services and groups, including all Growth Groups from today until further notice.
Our Archbishop has called for us to face this challenge not by “shutting up shop” but by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving others.
Over the next few weeks let’s all explore new and different ways in which we can be church together. We will look at the best ways in which we can share information and ideas over the coming weeks- but we can all start doing some things now.
A video will be available on our website this Sunday morning at 10 o’clock for people to connect into. Please join this from your home. We are looking to provide something like this regularly though the format will evolve over the coming weeks.
We want to be able to offer support, as best we can, to everybody and to ensure that nobody is left feeling isolated and lonely. This will require all of us using our phones, tablets and emails to be in touch with each other
First, of course, you must look after yourself. Anybody who is unwell needs to self isolate, as we know, and anyone with a weakened immune system needs to take extra care.
Next, let’s offer one another support. Please look out for your neighbours and if you are healthy and can offer to do shopping for them should they need it, please drop it at their front door and let them know. You could share an online shopping slot or call someone for a chat, perhaps pray with them over the phone line.
Please remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly and when leaving and arriving back home. The Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested that all Christians practice praying the Lord’s Prayer as we wash our hands and offer the concerns of this nation and the world into the Lord’ hands.
We are suggesting to all those who are members of Growth Groups that you find new ways of meeting online and today we are sending suggestions of ways of doing this to all our Growth Group Leaders.
The Café Church team will be working on ways in which that community can keep in regular contact, and especially how those who are isolated and needy can be supported. There will be additional email communications for Café Church over this period and anyone who wants to be included on that should let Godfrey, the Café Church Co-ordinator, know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you might expect, the church office is now operating on reduced hours and we have asked most of the staff and volunteers to work from home as far as possible. However, you can still contact us via the website, email or by phone. We will be checking messages to the office daily.
Let’s get together in prayer each day and with wisdom to support and care for each other and our nation.
Mark Melluish & Ben Strain (Pastors)
Lois Sheard, Paul Hagger (Church Wardens)
Please do give get in touch by calling 020 8566 3507