It has been just over 100 days since the nation was put into lockdown and the doors of our beautiful church were closed until further notice. Whilst there is still undoubtedly a long way to travel, we are beginning to see the restrictions eased and a slow reintegration occurring.
Approximately three weeks ago, it was announced that churches could open for private prayer, so long as appropriate Health and Safety measures were introduced and ensured. At Saint Wilfrid, we are delighted that the church has been open on a Sunday morning for the last three weeks, offering a safe space for those who would like to come and pray. The up-take for this has been encouraging.
Last week, the government announced an easing to the restrictions surrounding places of worship. Subsequently, the House of Bishops responded, with further clarity being provided by the respective Diocesan Bishops. The strong emphasis of the responses from both the House of Bishops and our own Diocesan Bishop, was that guidance regarding the further opening of the church buildings at this stage, was to be permissive and not mandatory. Furthermore, that such a decision to re-open should be made at a Parochial level.
As such, the PCC met remotely last week, to discuss the guidance and its application in our setting. Whilst there was a sense of lament from everyone, it was felt that on consideration of numerous factors, it was both the most pastoral and pragmatic decision not to re-open the church for services for a few more weeks. There was a strong sentiment amongst the PCC that this would ensure we were caring for people in the best way and were playing our part in keeping the people of the Parish safe.
I recognize that this will be very disappointing for some and I want to re-enforce the seriousness, diligence and prayer, with which this decision was made.
However, the PCC also felt that we should continue to offer the opportunity for private prayer on a Sunday morning, to continue the streamed Eucharist services (we will explore ways for this to be accessed more easily by more people) and to further explore how we could bring people back together in the safest way. The PCC will be reviewing this pattern, alongside any changes in guidance and spread of Covid-19, in mid-August, with a view to potentially expand the scope, availability and access of our activities, in the September term.
We therefore invite you to come along to the church on a Sunday morning at any point between 9.30AM and 11AM for private prayer.
Additionally, weather dependent, Lella and I will be in the rear church garden for an hour from 11.15AM, on the following dates: July 26th, August 9th,August 23rd . If anyone would value a (socially distant) chat and catch-up, we’d love to see you! Whilst unfortunately we cannot supply refreshments, do feel free to bring a thermos and something to snack on.
My prayer for us all is that we may know the glorious riches of the mystery of God, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Please be assured of our ongoing prayers for you all at this time.
In Christ, with love,
Joel Mennie, Vicar.