You may be wondering how the current Corona Virus situation affects Church. So here’s where we stand.
First – there’s no need to panic. Current Government advice does not suggest that Churches should cease meeting. We’ll link to the best advice currently available from the Baptist Union, from the BBC, from the NHS, and from the UK Government here.
Second, if you are vulnerable to infection – if you have a compromised immune system – then you would be safer staying at home. Please let the Pastor know, so that we can stay in touch and make sure you receive all the help you need. Home visits probably are not appropriate, but phone calls and other ways of keeping in touch will help people not feel isolated.
Third – if you develop symptoms of illness, stay at home. It will help slow the spread of the virus, and will mean that the health services can cope better. Again, let the Pastor know, and we’ll keep in touch.
Fourth: be assured that the Church already is careful to follow good hygiene practices when it comes to preparing food – including communion. Frequent handwashing is the most important of these – and we would expect everyone who attends to remember this, especially after using the toilets.
A few changes to our usual habits are appropriate just now. We would encourage you to refrain (for the time being) from hugs, kisses, and handshakes. A nod of the head, a bow, a bump of the elbows, a wave of the hand, or even the ‘live long and prosper’ sign would all be fine. Be creative! And for the next couple of months, we will pre-slice the communion loaf into small dice.
And finally – don’t be afraid. We have a God who is near us in all the tough situations of life. And this is no exception to His care. Trust Him, and nothing in life need hold any fear for His children. Here’s a prayer for all those who feel afraid just now:
Let’s continue to pray for all our sisters and brothers across the world who have been, and are continuing to be, affected by COVID-19. We pray that all will know God’s overwhelming, steadfast love.
We pray for those who are particularly fearful at moment.
We pray for the most vulnerable and isolated in our neighbourhoods.
We pray for the medical staff on the front line of care, we pray that they will be sustained physically, emotionally and spiritually in the coming weeks.
We pray for all those leading the response to COVID-19 across the world.
We acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty in and through all things and pray using the words of Paul to the church in Ephesus:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)