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Letters from Tim

Dear Friends,

This is an attempt to get my thoughts onto paper in this week as we enter lockdown three.

This lockdown is different to our previous experiences. This reflects the greater knowledge and experience we have gained, not least in the improved treatment and the emergence of vaccines, but also because of the new strain of the virus which is proving to be so virulent and putting so much pressure onto the health care system.

Churches with Covid secure practices in place are still permitted to gather for worship in lockdown three. This came as a surprise to us all, as we expected to be instructed to cease gathering for worship as before.

This puts us in a position of having to decide whether to continue to gather for worship, or to refrain from doing so and to concentrate on remote worship as in previous lockdowns.

Since last March, individuals have been making their own decisions about what they are comfortable in doing, assessing the risks for themselves and also for others. I sense we are in a different place now, with many people indicating that they are reassessing their future actions.

Whatever people decide should be respected by others, even if they choose differently. However, as a church community we are not free to leave it all up to individual choice. We have a corporate responsibility to provide as safe an environment as possible for all people, and can only work with the willing volunteers we have, who are the fantastic core team enabling church to happen.

So we need to find a confident way forward from here. The options seem to be as follows:

              To continue to open for worship – as long as we have the people to resource it.

              Or, to move to a lockdown approach of linking with worship from other churches on the web, or to develop for the first time our own Zoom experience of worship, this is in addition to the printed resources.  

The arguments for either approach may be finely balanced.

Just because we can gather for worship does not mean that we should. The new variant is putting huge pressure on our NHS and other services. The emergency mortuaries are now being used for the first time.

Our premises are as safe as they can be, due to the huge amount of work undertaken by many and that has been recognised by the government announcement permitting churches to remain open. Whether we feel that is an acceptable risk is a hard one to call.

In the Circuit Staff meeting this week, there was a consensus that the Circuit should strongly urge churches not to open for worship, and more of my colleagues, myself included, are now not willing to engage in face to face worship, apart from funerals at the Crematorium, or graveside. This will be communicated to churches soon.  This approach is being echoed by the Church of England in Sheffield too.

The most immediate decision is whether we should open this coming Sunday and to allow the Church Council meeting this Saturday, to decide on our future strategy.

The leadership team have decided that we will not meet for worship this Sunday 10th January, and this allows the Church Council to look at the longer term strategy.

None of this is easy, not all will agree, but we prayerfully seek a way forward.

Peace

Tim


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Page last updated: 7th January 2021 12:09 PM