Church and coronavirus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These are strange times we are in. I certainly haven’t experienced anything like it before. We are all wondering how to respond, not only as human beings but also as believers – not least with the advice changing weekly and even daily.

The purpose of this message is to let you know where we have got to in thinking about church activities in the coming weeks, bearing in mind that the picture is constantly changing.

Before we get to any of those practical things, though, let’s be encouraged with these words:

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:5b-7

Equipped to Serve Central
We have decided to postpone Equipped to Serve Central which was planned for tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. Instead, we hope to arrange a prayer meeting online via something called Zoom, to start at 8pm. Details of how this works will follow.

Sunday Services
We realise that we will probably not be able to meet as normal, so we are looking into alternatives, including live-streaming the services. We will let you know before the end of the week what we are intending to do.

We are also looking into:
• how we can enable Fellowship Groups (and other groups) to meet online rather than face-to-face,
• how we care for those in the church family who are vulnerable and/or isolated,
• how we might help other people living in the parish.

If you need help
It may be that you have already had to self-isolate, or that you will need to do so in the coming weeks. You may have all the help and support that you need, both practically and socially. If not, can I encourage you to ask for help from someone you know at church, your Fellowship Group leader, or a member of staff – even if it’s only to have someone to talk to?

Further information
There are several helpful websites with up-to-date advice and information:

Church of England
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches
NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Government
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Bible Resources
And finally, many of us will be looking for spiritual guidance at this time and also finding ourselves with extra time on our hands. Why not take the opportunity to catch up on sermons you have missed, or even to do some extra study? Here are some excellent resources you may find helpful:

St Stephen’s and St Wulstan’s(!)
https://www.sssw.org.uk/ssswsermons/
All Souls Langham Place
https://www.allsouls.org/Media/AllMedia.aspx
St Helen’s Bishopsgate
https://www.st-helens.org.uk/resources/all/
Clayton TV (Jesmond Parish Church Newcastle)
https://www.clayton.tv

Finally, please remember that none of this has taken the Lord by surprise, nor outwitted him, and that we can be confident that the God who gave his own Son to die for us will give us what we need at this time. The coronavirus will pass. We don’t know when, but it will. What will not pass is God’s love for us.

Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)

17 March 2020