Suspension of public worship at Harbour Churches
from Sunday 10th January
Over the Christmas season these words from Philippians – but made famous in the carol ‘Hark, the Herald Angel sing’, have had particular resonance for me.
All of us have had to give things up that normally we would hold as especially precious to celebrating Christmas – to lay them by. We did this because we knew it was for the greater good – and ultimately to save lives. It was ‘the Christ like’ thing to do…
This new and sudden (if widely anticipated) lockdown is once again requiring us to live sacrificially for the sake of others. Having discussed our particular church context with church wardens and licensed ministers, I have decided that the appropriate course of action is to suspend public acts of worship from this coming Sunday.
There are sound reasons for such a course of action. Primarily, the new variant of the virus is so highly contagious and contracting coronavirus – or spreading it – remains potentially fatal. Our congregations are, in the main, very vulnerable either through age/health or through contact with vulnerable family members. Further, our ministry team and church wardens have all got links with vulnerable folk and are themselves in the vulnerable age group or have underlying health issues. Unlike in earlier lockdowns, we are now experiencing a particularly cold winter and it isn’t possible to heat our church buildings to an acceptable level AND ensure the required flow of fresh air to minimise infection.
On a more positive note, we need to recognise – and celebrate – that we will not be ‘closed’ as a church community. We are still able to give God glory in worship, online fellowshipthrough the Harbour Groups and in the many ways we can witness in word and deed to God’s love in Christ.
We offer daily prayer/communal worship, and our online services will continue. In addition,we are planning to host a weekly ‘Zoom Service’ every Sunday for all of Harbour Churches,as we have successfully done to mark Pentecost, Advent and Christmas.
In response to the latest lockdown Sarah Mullaly, the Bishop of London (who heads up the CofE response to Covid-19), has said that whilst public worship can continue, many will feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only on-line services for the time-being. She went on to say that clergy and volunteers who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care.
If you have any concerns or questions please do speak to me (mob. 07538 011579). However, I hope that you will understand why I have taken this difficult decision and engage as fully as you can with the many alternatives on offer.
Assuring you of my continued prayers and trusting to yours