The guidance makes it clear that public (communal) worship is allowed during this lockdown as long as the appropriate Covid-19 safeguards are in place.
This guidance and associated law limits numbers, prohibits singing (classified as a risky activity), hugging, handshaking, raised voices, requires face coverings to be we worn and prohibits mixing between households / support bubbles. But we are free to join together (safely) and worship.
In order to keep everyone safe we are restricting numbers at our Services to ensure social distancing is possible. To allow us to arrange this you will need to book into 'in person' services; wear a face covering and observe social distancing. The best way to book in is from the link on our news letter. We would encourage you to join our email list.
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.
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'.
We encourage you to engage with us
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If things have not changed since writing this article, this month will see further relaxation of the ‘social distancing’ rules. I for one will be glad to be able to socialise freely, to be close to friends and wider family and not need to think about social distancing, hand sanitisers and elbow bumps. I am also looking forward to not getting to the shops and discovering my mask is still on the side at home; I am looking forward to ditching the mask.
There has been debate during the last year about the relative value of masks giving protection versus the issues they cause with communication and identity. I tend to see them as a necessary annoyance recognising the problems they cause as well. Even before distancing rules are further relaxed can I encourage you to take off your lockdown masks. Hear me correctly here, I am not inciting a mass rebellion against government guidance nor am I referring to cloth or paper masks we use to go shopping.
Over the last fifteen months, life for many of us has been disrupted. We have all had to become accustomed to not doing things we once thought of as normal, everyday activities. Few people in the country are not affected in some way and many people will have donned one of the following masks to protect themselves. The ‘I’m OK mask’; the ‘I’m coping’ mask; the ‘I’m financially stable’ mask; the ‘I’m happy mask’, the ‘I like it on my own’ mask and the list goes on.
Can I encourage you to ditch the masks and be kind to yourself? Don’t feel bad if you have found it hard, or your life circumstances have changed in a way you can’t control. Don’t be concerned that you are fearful of reintegrating as social distancing is removed. You are allowed to take things at your own pace, to ease yourself back into things or even to not restart something either for a while or at all. But please ditch the masks.
Emotional masks allow us to hide but like cloth masks, they get in the way of communication. If you are struggling, please ditch the mask and try to speak to someone you trust about how you are feeling, ask them to help you get through this. Too personal? Ditch the masks and speak to someone anonymously, there are a range of places and phone lines to start to get help, the Churches, the GP or Assist 01522 370164 can help point you to a someone or an organisation who will listen. It really is time to ditch the masks. So that we can be who we really are and so we can help each other as we return to some form of normality.
As I wandered down Princess Street in Edinburgh in a time before Covid, lockdowns and travel restrictions I took this picture. At the time, the positioning of the words ‘Try Praying’ and the Automated External Defibrillator amused me. It seemed at first glance to be a case of someone ‘hedging their bets’; if one didn’t work you could always try the other.
In reality though, the picture shows the operation of the church at its best. A mix of practical service and support underpinned by prayer, belief, and the expression of hope that Christians find only in the reality of living with God.
This mix of faith and works has been recognised across the nation as churches have reacted to the Covid-19 crisis. From the initial community support, through to the provision of premises and people to support Vaccination efforts. Throughout this, church communities of all types have come together to pray for individuals, communities, and the nation.
I think we all recognise that the effects of the pandemic will be with us for some time even after we are allowed to travel, go to the pub, take holidays and freely see friends and family. The economic, social and mental health impacts will be ongoing. Churches across the nation will continue to meet this challenge with a mix of Prayer and Practicality. Both in my view effective, necessary, and worthwhile.
This is why we are offering The Wellbeing Journey, a free eight-part online course to help individuals and communities address the challenges of our time. Focusing on having a wellbeing mindset: including physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational, and vocational well being.
Hosted by Simon Thomas (Prime Video Sport/ Sky Sports/ Blue Peter) and Joanna Adeyinka-Burford (BBC, Channel 5, Nickelodeon); The course is practical and free to all. So, why not join us on the Wellbeing journey?