How St Mildred’s, St Dunstan’s and St Peter’s in Canterbury are facing the new restrictions. Some day we’ll be glad of the record!
Good morning to you all, and I do hope this finds you well in these difficult times. A lot has been going on behind the scenes – hence today.
Temporary closure of our church buildings
The PCC’s of both of our Parishes, and our ministry team, have agreed that we temporarily suspend corporate worship in our buildings with immediate effect, and move onto on-line provision, live streaming our services from St Dunstan’s with a 10.00 Sunday Eucharist. This will be the pattern of worship until Sunday February 21st 2021, when the situation will be reviewed, and hopefully more of our folk will have been vaccinated, and the virus less prevalent.
We are legally permitted to keep our church buildings open for corporate worship, if we feel it is wise and safe to do so. Bishop Rose has advised in a letter to clergy, that this is a may, and not a must. She reminds us that we have a duty of care for everyone particularly those who are vulnerable or who may be most at risk from this virus.
With the demographics of our congregations being predominantly elderly and vulnerable (over 70), the safest option for all, in this current climate, is to temporarily close our buildings for corporate worship; particularly in light of the CofE guidance that states, “The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.”
The safety of our vulnerable congregations is absolutely paramount, and with this in mind, we are temporarily closing our buildings and moving our worship online, which folk can watch from the safety of their homes. I assure you that this has not been an easy decision for myself and the PCC’s, but it is in the interests of keeping everyone safe, and we have hope.
I appreciate that for some this will be a huge disappointment; and for others you may feel comforted by this decision. Either way may you be reassured by The Bishop of London’s words – who chairs the Church of England Covid recovery group: “There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.”
May I remind you that although buildings will be temporarily closed, the church is not shut – we are the Body of Christ, the church, and we can love and support one another with phone calls, and prayers, and keeping connected to one another. For those who are in touch with are offline folk, please can you let them know of this decision.
God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.
Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury