Yesterday afternoon the Officers of the Methodist Church at national level issued a recommendation that all Services, Meetings and Activities of our Circuits and Churches should be suspended. This is an unprecedented situation dictated by circumstances that are linked to the spread of the Coronavirus.
As a Circuit I believe we have a responsibility to comply. From the Circuit team we have notified our Church Stewards of this requirement and from today there will be no Services or Church Meetings until further notice.
The prospect of a complete lock down of our premises is devastating and will add to the apprehension and uncertainty that is in the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment. It seems a pretty bleak and joyless situation.
But we do have resources to cope and come through to the other side of what might be a protracted period.
We have our faith. On Sunday at Salisbury I used Psalm 121 as our Call to Worship. The Psalm declares that “My help will come from the Lord. The Lord will guard you, he is by your side to protect you. He will keep you safe.” In the new version of Psalm 23 we sing “I will trust in you alone, for your endless mercy follows me, your goodness will lead me home.” Although we face a time of great difficulty, and for some even danger, we put our trust and confidence in the Lord, who in Jesus assures us of his everlasting peace and love.
We have our people. Thank you to our teams of Stewards, Pastoral Visitors and Ministers who, week in and week out, exercise Christ’s ministry of care to both members of the congregation and also to a wide range of the contacts that we maintain. That work is now even more essential, and we are grateful for all the devotion and commitment that will be poured into the tasks of looking after one another. At least in today’s world we have the advantage of all the modern methods of communication. I am sure that telephone contact is going to be of prime importance in the coming days. Please can I say that the ministerial team would rather be told of a particular pastoral issue several times than not at all.
We do have opportunities of Worship. In addition to the Daily Service on Radio 4 and Songs of Praise on BBC1, several churches have developed streaming as a means of offering Services to people who perhaps are unable to attend Church. I have put details of a link to Wesley’s Chapel and their streaming line below. Anna Bishop is looking at ways for her to be creative and is exploring the possibility of streaming short Services from Salisbury.
There are some practicalities. Funerals are part of our stock in trade. Both Steve Hawkes and I are currently arranging funeral services within the Circuit – and elsewhere. In a fast-changing situation, we are finding that we are having to make alterations to our plans and preparation. Both Funeral Directors and Crematoria Staff are communicating details of their less-than-normal requirements. It is likely that we shall be put in the situation of Committal only Services and asking people to defer Thanksgiving Services to a later date.
A reminder that Steve is part of the Hospital Chaplaincy team at Salisbury District Hospital. Apparently, donations to food banks have dropped significantly. Here, in the home of The Trussell Trust, Anna is arranging a meeting with representatives of the other Salisbury Churches to try to find ways of supporting the most vulnerable and needy members of our community. We should also be alert – there already a number of scams which seek to capitalise on people’s fears over the virus.
Please hear me when I say Thank You for your support, care and love
We continue to hold one another in our prayers.
Acting Superintendent Minister
This is the link to the Methodist Church website
To Wesley’s Chapel