In the light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice. See also the end of this webpage for an important extract from the latest letter just sent out by the two Archbishops.
Following the announcement that church services are being suspended until further notice, churches should remain open where possible even with no public worship services taking place in them. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community.
Here in our own benefice, a number of items and events advertised in the March edition of our benefice magazine IN TOUCH have had to be amended or cancelled as a result of precautions needing to be taken. The CONCERT advertised in Dunsford on Sunday 29th March has been postponed, while the remaining LENT LUNCHES due to be held in the Community Club in Moreton have been cancelled – as has the programme of Passiontide Music
and Readings planned for Friday 3rd April.
Bishop Robert has called for us to be united in helping those who are in isolation. Speaking to BBC Spotlight, he said, ‘Isolation is the biggest cause of people being mentally ill. We’ve got to look out for people… we’ve got to come together.’ You can see a video message from Bishop Robert by clicking this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mpf0Q1ns5ZE&t=39s
You may also read the latest pastoral letter from Bishop Robert by clicking here. (If you wish to open any of the links contained within this letter, please copy the link and paste it into your browser.)
Clergy, churchwardens and others are in receipt of almost daily updates on this subject from Bishop Robert, using the Church of England’s guidance. Their latest advice is as follows:
‘In view of the fact that the Government and Public Health England are updating their guidance on an almost daily basis, it is important to consult the Church of England website on a regular basis yourself so that everyone is up-to-date with developments.’
The webpage provides helpful new advice about:
• Baptism, confirmation and the laying-on of hands, including prayer ministry
• The serving of refreshments at services
• Not passing round the collection plate
• Supporting people who are self-isolating
• Supporting the wider community
• Maundy Thursday foot-washing
God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you have any further questions arising from this, you are welcome to phone or email Lionel Holmes (01647 440113 / email@example.com) who will direct your enquiry to the appropriate person.
There now follow three paragraphs from the latest letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as promised in the first paragraph of this webpage. Let us all take note of the practical suggestions they make concerning 22nd March – Mothering Sunday – and the placing of a lit candle in a window of our house.
“We have called, along with our fellow church leaders, for a day of prayer and action this coming Sunday – Mothering Sunday (22nd March). Mothering Sunday has always been both a day of celebration for many and a sensitive and emotional day for some. Wherever you are this Sunday please do join in this day of prayer and action and remember especially those who are sick or anxious, and all involved in our Health Service. As one action, we are calling on everyone to place a lighted candle in their window at 7.00 p.m. as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.
“This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.
“Please, therefore, join us in this great challenge; and pray for our Government and nation, for each other, and especially for those who work in our health and emergency services.”