Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 5 for Clergy, Church Wardens and Lay Chairs
Yesterday’s announcement about the postponement of public worship has led to a lot of questions about how churches and their leaders can adapt to the challenges ahead. Thank you for those questions, they help to give us a clear picture of the challenges you face.
The Church of England have already provided some clarity on weddings and funerals which can be found on the Church of England website. By tomorrow lunchtime we will have further guidance on the Diocese of Chelmsford website about these issues and others in our own FAQs section.
Day of Prayer and Action
The Coronavirus outbreak is a defining moment for the Church. Our mission is to meet this challenge by becoming a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world. One of the ways we must do that is by encouraging and enabling acts of worship at home. Sunday’s National Day of Prayer, Announced by Churches Together in England, is one way we can achieve this.
Please use your social media channels and email lists to let people know about the Day of Prayer and encourage them to participate. Attached to this email are some images you can use on your social media channels and some model text for social media and email.
How we will support you going forward
It is going to be a huge adjustment for us not to gather together for public worship, not least because that is precisely what we want to do in a time of crisis. The Coronavirus will also disproportionately affect those in our communities who we provide most pastoral and practical support to and we need to find new ways of doing this. On a practical level this means five things:
1. Where possible we need to keep our churches open for members of the public to use for prayer and reflection, following guidelines on hygiene and social distancing
2. We are also encouraging every church and chaplaincy to maintain a daily pattern of prayer and if possible a Eucharist, but these cannot be public services. We are praying for the nation not with the nation. Further specific advice about worship is on its way.
3. Church at Home. We must encourage and enable people to worship and pray in their own homes, through live streamed services, podcasts, lower tech worship resources and collective acts such as Days of Prayer and Action. Tomorrow we will launch a new web page to provide you with resources and guidance to help you encourage home worship. The Cathedral are now live streaming morning and evening prayer each day on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/chelmsfordcathedral/. Please follow them and share this with your own followers. In the coming days we will also be publishing videos and podcasts for you to share which will also help people to worship in their own homes.
4. Blessing our communities in new ways. Providing spiritual leadership as well as pastoral and practical support for the sick, the anxious, the lonely and those facing financial hardship. As well as providing information for prayers and worship, we will provide ideas and examples of churches finding new ways to support their local communities.
5. Being part of the wider civic effort to protect people from the spread of COVID-19 through information sharing and by setting an example as responsible citizens.
Please do keep asking questions and sharing your reflections with your Area Deans and via email@example.com. Where many of you have the same concerns and questions we will answer them through this bulletin and the FAQs section that we will publish tomorrow on the website. Where this is the case and given the volume of emails we receive, we may not answer every email but rest assured that we will read them all.
Yours in Christ
The Diocesan Communications Group
Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Rt Rev Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking
The Venerable Ruth Patten, Archdeacon of Colchester
The Venerable Chris Burke, Archdeacon of Barking
Rev Canon Dr Roger Matthews, Dean of Mission and Ministry
Joel Gowen, Diocesan Secretary and Chief Executive
Keith Baggs, Chelmsford Cathedral
Tom Geldard, Diocesan Director of Communications and Media
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