Last week saw the Prime Minister announce the return to public worship services from 4th July 2020. Well, sort of...
Having read the guidance, it is clear that this return to public worship is not a return to public worship as we would have known it prior to March 2020.
The guidance would limit numbers, prohibit singing (classified as a risky activity), hugging, handshaking, raised voices. We would need to maintain a social distance regime and deep clean following every meeting and enhanced hygiene procedures during the meeting.
There are other aspects of guidance that will prove challenging for us; for example, in the overall guidance announcing the changes from 4 July, people are advised not to interact socially with anyone outside the group with which they are attending any given place. This makes the whole idea of joining together in a corporate act of worship in person a challenging subject.
There will be much for us to consider over the next weeks: How we may meet physically to worship (in a different way), sanitation, social distancing, pastoral care, keeping our online ministry effective, and of course, how to turn this time into an effective harvest for the Kingdom! Please pray for us as we consider our plans.
What this means
For the time being:
- We will not be returning to regular physical Sunday Meetings.
- We will continue to Worship Online
- We will explore ways we may choose to meet physically and what this may look like.
- We will not return to physical mid-week groups - this is still prohibited.
- We will continue to meet via zoom.
- I would love to be wrong but I suspect this will be the case until at least the autumn, if not the end of the year.
- We will keep watching the guidance, both the high-level announcements and the detail that follows, that is often not quite the same. As things change we will, consider and react appropriately.
This is a time to be both bold in our faith and actions and responsible.
We never closed
While it is easy to look forward to meeting together and I look forward to this as much as anyone, it is important to remember we never closed. While the building was not available to us:
We worshipped online with our services on Youtube and Facebook. I know may of you have and many more people that would not already have attended a physical church have engaged with the online services.
We have met together on Zoom for Sunday night prayer, being joined by other Christians from the area.
We have met together on Zoom for our mid-week groups, continuing our exploration of discipleship.
We have engaged with local, regional and national events online both receiving great input and publishing video content for Lincoln City Churches group, Hope Together, Groundlevel and others as well as taking part in live meetings with a range of groups.
Our social outreach Assist has continued to provide support for the most vulnerable in the area, increasing its provision through partnership with others during this time. We do not see this need abating any time soon.
We have engaged with the children of the village through TST Online and the Video content 'Freya Speaks'
We have kept in touch with each other as best we can.
We have not closed, we have adapted and God has provided great opportunities to work with others and to reach people who would not consider stepping inside 'the church'.