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Coronavirus – the church is open, services are suspended

Article posted on 16 March 2020 One Comment

Coronavirus – the Church is open although services are suspended.

The advice from the Church of England was updated on Tuesday 17th March:

In 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.

Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community

You can read the letter from the Archbishops here.

See the following earlier letter from Revd Becky about what measures we are taking to protect the vulnerable and limit the spread of the virus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest guidance as at Sunday 15 March
The Church of England is following national guidance, taking a proportionate and precautionary approach with basic common-sense public health principles. Government advice changed yesterday: Anyone with a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature is now advised to self-isolate for seven days. Do not under any circumstances attend church services or gatherings if you have a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature.

Until further instruction, the Church of England’s current position is:

  • Communion is to be offered in one kind only – just the bread.
  • Handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the Peace, in the giving of Blessings, and at the door as we leave the service, is to be stopped.
  • All catering is to be reviewed and new restrictions put in place.
  • The passing around of the collection plate is also to be suspended.
  • Parishes are to prepare contingency plans for how churches operate when many people, including clergy, might be self-isolating. 

How will we respond at St George’s?

One option is to focus on what we can’t do, what’s missing, how awful this is. And let’s be honest, so much of what makes life good and worthwhile is what we are having to suspend for the time being – social interaction, ‘normal’ daily life, the pattern of our days. All this week people have been faced with holidays that won’t happen, important family gatherings cancelled, key events now under doubt, and this of course brings real disappointment. Added to this we might not know what to make of the guidelines and wonder whether it is a media-led over-reaction. Inevitably we will have our own thoughts about what the response should be, and perhaps some of us feel rather critical and belligerent in the face of the restrictions. As Christians we have an added conflict which comes from our deep desire to follow in the way of Jesus who ‘touched untouchables’ as one of the Eucharistic prayers puts it. Why then wouldn’t we do the same…

There are no easy answers, that’s for sure. 

It is my deepest hope and my personal conviction that we can hold on to and model real Christian concern and care for one another even if this has to be done in very different ways for a while. I believe that we express this Christian care by following the guidance (even if we think we know better) as an act of compassion for the vulnerable. At the same time, we can find creative new ways to connect and support one another. At St George’s we will be looking at how we can offer practical support to those who are isolated at home, how we can offer worship which meets any new rules about people gathering, and also how we can encourage personal prayer and reflection which links us as the body of Christ even if we are apart. 

Some words from Bishop Olivia 

“Let’s live hopefully, love generously and pray earnestly, blessing each other by the way we behave. Stay calm and let those who are in high-risk groups or self-isolating know that you care for them. Phone calls, messages, letters, cards, food left on the doorstep are all signs of us being community together.”

And a prayer from the Diocese of Bath and Wells

Loving God,
We pray for all those who are suffering because of the coronavirus,

may they know your healing power.
When we are afraid for ourselves and our loved ones, give us your strength and courage.
When we feel alone and isolated, reassure us with a sense of your presence.
Give wisdom to those in authority and may our community work together for the good of all.
We give thanks for those who care for others and ask you to bless them in all they do.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, healer and physician. Amen

Revd Becky Bevan 15 March 2020

One Comment »

  • Piers Nash-Williams said:

    A brave decision—both nationally and locally. Let’s pray that this may be, not just a defensive measure against the crisis, but a very positive means of advancing God’s Kingdom, even if we can’t see at the moment how that can be.

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