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Pastoral Message – 3rd November


Dear Friends,

Having just written to you all last week when Covid-19 restrictions were tightened in many parts of the District, I wasn't expecting to be writing to you all again quite so soon! However, the events of the last weekend with another national lockdown being proposed from later this week has prompted me to be in touch with you all again to offer my prayerful support and encouragement.

The prospect of a second national lockdown will undoubtedly have brought disappointment to many of you, especially perhaps amongst those of you who have recently seen your churches
re-open for worship or who were making plans to open in the next few weeks. I am really grateful for all the hard work that many of you have undertaken to make our buildings Covid secure and assure you that your work is not wasted – everything will be in place for when we might be permitted to gather again!

The prospect of lockdown may also have raised anxiety levels for many of you who carry responsibility for leadership and decision making in your local churches and circuits. However, the
guidance regarding places of worship is clear and so, with a few exceptions our buildings cannot now be used during the lockdown period for worship or other activities. The guidance in this regard is included at the end of this letter. If you are involved in any decision making regarding the permitted exceptions, I urge you to do that prayerfully and carefully and in liaison with the leaders and officers in your Circuit.

I recognise the frustration and the weariness that can so readily come when our plans are thwarted and everything is turned upside down again. However, this last weekend with All Saints Day and All Souls Day has given us opportunity to remember those who have gone before us; those members of the great cloud of witnesses who now cheer us on as we seek to be faithful disciples today; those saints who have been an inspiration to us and pointed us to Jesus.

As we continue to be the church during these lockdown days, you may find it helpful to read for yourself and take to heart the words that we find at the start of Hebrews 12. Here the writer provides us with examples of people of faith who now form part of that "great cloud of witnesses" and goes on to encourage us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

As you read this passage you may like to take some time to reflect on two things:

  • the fact that we are not just the church when we are gathered in a building, but we are the church wherever we are and that church is made up of far more than we can see with our physical eye
  • the opportunities that we currently have to be saints for others as we offer our worship and exercise our faith beyond the walls of the church building

So, in these days may we all continue to keep our eyes on Jesus in order that we may not grow weary or lose heart and may be bring light and love to the lives of others.

Every blessing

Gill Newton, District Chair

5. Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.

Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:

  • Funerals
  • To broadcast acts of worship
  • Individual prayer
  • Formal childcare or where part of a school
  • Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
  • Other exempted activities such as some support groups

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S1 2JB

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