Martin Borgars: March 2020
At 3:00 p.m. (1500 hours) this afternoon (March 17th 2020), the following statement was issued by the Methodist Church of Great Britain. This mirrors statements made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England and the Baptist Union to their ministers and congregations. The full statement can be read here https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/coronavirus-guidance/
It is with sadness that we recommend that worship services in Methodist Churches are suspended for the time being in line with Government guidance. We would encourage people who lead services to think about how worship might be offered in different ways, including online and using worship at home sheets.
During this incredibly difficult time when people might want to spend time in prayer in their Methodist Church, local trustees should consider whether it is possible to open up their churches to enable people to come and pray or sit quietly, perhaps offering prayer stations as a point of reflection with precautions around physical distancing.
Suspending services means that we advise that baptisms will not take place in public worship and if you have a wedding planned in a Methodist Church you should speak to your minister. While funerals may still take place, we would advise that the number of people attending is limited as per the Government's advice.
In terms of Church business, we recommend that all meetings including church councils and circuit meetings should be cancelled. District chairs will be in touch about Synods. The next meeting of the Methodist Council has been suspended and we will advise on how essential business will be carried out. We will be issuing further advice on this.
Therefore, in the Kennet & Test Valley Circuit, with immediate effect:
- All churches will be closed for Sunday worship until further notice, without exception. This includes any Methodist congregation not worshipping in Methodist premises.
- All church-run small groups, coffee mornings, fellowship groups, toddler, creative arts groups etc. are also cancelled until further notice.
- All Church and Circuit Meetings are cancelled until further notice. In some cases it may be necessary to use Skype or email consultations for urgent decisions.
- Each minister will provide a weekly worship resource for the churches in their pastoral charge that will be emailed to members wherever possible or delivered personally where this is the only option. Once the Circuit website is back up again I will also post my services on there.
- Please work with your minister and pastoral team to agree ways of staying in touch with members and adherents alike. Regular phone calls are likely to be greatly appreciated and, within reason, there is now a legitimate interest in passing on telephone numbers of those who may already be struggling and anxious.
The situation is clearly changing almost day by day and it is therefore important that everyone keeps themselves up to date with the latest advice.
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