It is with a heavy heart that I am closing the church buildings of the ART benefice for communal public worship from today until the end of January.
I, with the churchwardens and PCCs, have worked hard to make the buildings safe and compliant with government and Church of England guidelines.
On 31st December, we introduced even more stricter ways to enhance that safety locally.
HOWEVER, for the following reasons I now think it is appropriate to close until the end of January
- The lockdown in Spring 2020 reduced the R value at that time to below 1 but evidence released in the past 24 hours suggests that the new variant is passed from person to person so easily that even the first lockdown restrictions might not have been sufficient to control the disease in the present form.
- The data for the local area released this week show that the incidence remains higher than average for our country in our villages of Tutbury and Rolleston especially.
Our local hospitals now have more people with Covid than at the height of the epidemic in April 2020. The anticipated “Christmas bulge” has not happened yet.
- Bishop Michael has now granted his dispensation with the option to suspend public worship in our buildings to the end of January.
In Rolleston and Tutbury, we have also decided to suspend all Private Prayer in the buildings for the next fortnight.
Should the situation improve dramatically within the next 14 days, we will review our decisions re Sundays and Private prayer.
I am again extremely disappointed that we are closing for the second time in the history of the churches
but I feel that in the light of the new evidence, it is the only safe, appropriate, response.
Alternative ways of worshipping and staying connected
- I attach the new Daily prayer booklet which I will use on Thursdays and on some Sundays. It also has the Bible readings for Sundays and Thursdays on page 4.
It looks as if midweek readings for January are from Hebrews. It might be worth us focussing on that book in our private Bible readings at home.
I can lend or suggest books to read alongside our bibles, or DVDs to watch.
- I attach the words we will say in our online Communion services. These include a Prayer for Spiritual Communion.
- We now have the Sunday services with good audio and video available on Facebook, Zoom and Youtube. (See links below)
The service will be live streamed from one of our church buildings on Sundays at 10am, and from the Rectory at 10am on Thursdays.
- I am proposing to host Zoom coffee times every second week. Details to follow.
- Pastoral care will be by email, post, telephone calls and waving to each other in the street.
There are now 210 people associated with our 3 churches which is great. I share this responsibility, with our wardens, and PCCs.
The 210 does not include our wedding and baptism families nor the people whose loved ones have died in the past year.
I invite us all to continue to care for each other whether we are in a recognised or elected church role or not.
Technical help is available
If you are having trouble accessing the online worship and would like some help with setting up equipment then my husband, Chris, is willing to visit and stand outside your house.
As a hospital worker, he is regularly tested and has also been vaccinated.
If you would like the opportunity to chat with each other after the Sunday services in a “Zoom coffee bar”, again let me know and we can organise that either for everybody or separately for each church.
For those people without internet, there is the option to dial into our services on their phone.
Please pass this information to any you know in this situation, and I will see if this is something we can add.
I will be writing to the people I know who do not have internet access within the next week to tell them about this.
Emmanuel: God is with us. Amen.
Yours, in my ongoing prayers,