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Letters from Tim

Covid 19 update from the Sheffield Circuit Leadership Team

This is being sent to:

Circuit staff, Local Preachers and Worship Leaders, Church Worship contacts and Church Council Secretaries for disseminating around the churches and Circuit.

It covers two areas:  The opening of places of worship and the preaching plan

 

Dear colleague,

You will probably have heard that the Government is set to allow limited opening of places of worship “for private prayer” from 15th June, with the prospect of more significant resumption of activity next month.

However, the Methodist Church has said that its existing guidance (to keep buildings closed) will not be reviewed until after the Methodist Conference has concluded on 2nd July 2020 Meanwhile, the Circuit Leadership Team of the Sheffield Circuit has discussed the matter and do not believe that our buildings should open before 1st September at the earliest.

This applies to church activities and the use of buildings by external organisations with a few exceptions, such as pre-schools or foodbanks. This will be kept under constant review so that should there be a very significant change in the risk of infection, changes can be properly considered.

Whenever limited opening does become possible, managing trustees will need to have followed guidance issued by the Methodist Church on preparing for reopening through the conduct of risk assessments and the review of arrangements for social distancing, cleaning, etc. This work may be begun now, so that churches can gain a clearer idea of what may be achieved once it is safe to reopen, even though this is not yet possible.

The fact that so many of our members, adherents and associated groups’ members are in higher risk categories means that we have a pastoral responsibility not to arrange anything which might heighten that risk. This news will doubtless be received with disappointment by many, however, the safety of our congregations and building users has to be our first priority.

In the light of this, the Circuit Leadership Team agreed that we will not take steps to make a preaching plan at this time. This will be kept under constant review. How each congregation emerges out of lock down will vary immensely. How worship will happen when we can gather, could be very different. We know that sustaining the former number of services and churches is not possible and maybe not desirable. Congregations need to meet to discern what has been learned through this time and how their identity and practice might be radically different in the future.  Delaying a plan will allow this discernment to take place.

In the meantime, a significant number of worship resources are being offered by post, email and online, locally as well as nationally and on TV and radio. It has been very encouraging to have so many people participate in services and small groups.

Of course, that is not the same as being together in one building, but our prayer and fellowship is not based around the building.

Mark 13:1-2 says, As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Our Cornerstone is Jesus himself. We must proceed with caution on opening buildings, with passion in prayer and devotion wherever we are.

Peace

Tim


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