Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are in strange and difficult times and we, as Church, need to respond appropriately. We should be setting an example by observing all the government’s instructions and advice, around hygiene, social distancing, panic buying/hoarding, and looking out for our neighbour (In the widest, biblical, sense.) As part of that, I have agreed some steps with some local volunteers and the local parish/town councils and these are set out on an accompanying note to this one.
In addition, the national Church and our own Diocese have issued instructions. These instructions are being supplemented by daily emails from a Diocesan Task Force. I have set out below what this means but I want to stress that, just because services have ceased for a season, that doesn’t mean the Church has closed. The Church is its people, not its buildings, and our prayers and actions are what will keep it alive and open.
With immediate effect, all public worship, including Sunday services, are suspended. There will be a live service broadcast on the BBC on Sundays. You may find other live-streamed series taking place if you search YouTube or other areas of the internet. In addition, I will celebrate a Eucharist in one of our six churches every day and will also say Evening Prayer in one of them. If anyone happens to be there when I do that, they may join me (subject to the rules on distancing, etc.). I am not allowed to publicise the times and venues as this would be deemed to be ‘public worship’. No one should ever underestimate the power of prayer and, in order to provide an opportunity for prayer as a community, I am asking you all to join me in saying the Lord’s Prayer at 09.00 every day; wherever you are, whatever you are doing.
The Confirmation preparation and service for this year has been cancelled. Weddings can only take place under very firm restrictions. I have advised all couples with a wedding booked up to and including June this year, and all but one have decided to postpone their wedding. As there are no Sunday services, banns cannot be read. Consequently, everyone, who would have had banns read before the end of June, will need to apply for a Common Licence instead. I will speak to those affected in the first instance. All Baptisms up to and including the end of June, have been postponed. Funerals will continue but under very strict guidelines.
All pastoral visits must cease with immediate effect. Those who visit others on behalf of the Church, should make sure they have the telephone number(s) of those they visit and should ring them weekly. If anyone does need a face-to-face visit, the matter is to be referred to me please.
These are difficult instructions for me to follow and I am sure you will find them challenging too but these are challenging times. We will come out the other end of this at some point and the more people follow the guidance and instructions, the sooner that will be. If anyone needs to talk about anything, please ring me. Always remember that the power behind us is greater than the problem ahead of us. So, I urge you to be patient, to pray, to keep your faith and hope, to share good news and look out for each other and those around you and stay safe.
Rev Andy Shaw
Vicar of Over Wyre