I write to briefly update you on our church's response to Covid-19. We are following diocesan guidelines. Further, we met 15 March as a leadership to develop a continuity plan for the parish. I should like to draw your attention to some highlights of this plan below, accepting the situation may have moved on by the time you read this.
The church remains open between daylight hours for your use. Please feel free to drop in anytime you wish, while observing the hand-washing ritual. The church is foremost a community of praying persons.
Physical contact within church services with people and objects through, e.g., sharing the peace, has been suspended.
The use of a common cup, the chalice containing the wine-blood of Christ, has also been suspended.
Where applicable, we stand to receive communion so as to not touch the altar rail.
TV screens are now used at all Sunday services to avoid the use of orders of service and hymn books, and thereby reduce another possible transmission routes for the virus.
A cleaning schedule has been adopted to wipe down pews and other areas of the church at regular intervals through the week. This is in addition to other general hygiene practices been adopted in line with government advice.
Most of our regular activities, e.g., the luncheon club, messy church, visits to our care homes, fund-raising and fellowship events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Lent lectures, school visiting, Lighthouse (our new Sunday school equivalent), and the Ark (our new parent and toddler group) are continuing for now, but under regular view. Please review our parish calendar for the latest information on any events: https://www.stjameschristleton.org.uk/index.php/calendar
We will maintain Sunday and Wednesday (10.45am) midweek worship unless the Diocese instructs us to shut the church. We are actively making plans to reduce our Sunday services to one single Sunday service should this be necessary.
We are preparing a spiritual resource pack that will be available online and for delivery in the near future.
We are developing enhanced systems of communication and care for those who are housebound, ill, and self-isolating. By the time you read this, the church website, e.g., will carry an invitation for you to participate in a virtual [phone and or email] pastoral care initiative for our communities.
In the meantime, let us call to heart Paul's words in his letter to the Romans: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8.38-39). This, and the gift of God with us through your sharing in His divine life - all that you are and offer, gives me great confidence that we can persevere, endure, and indeed overcome the challenges ahead.
Be assured of my love and prayers for you and the community at this time,