Grace and peace be with you all.
I am writing to you following the new measures which were announced by the government yesterday evening. The new measures mean that many of our congregations, church stewards and local preachers who are over seventy or have underlying medical conditions will need to self-isolate and of course for us in this circuit that is a high percentage of people. Even those who do not fall into this group have been advised not to have unnecessary social contact.
I have made the decision to cease all Sunday services. I have, of course, spoken to all the Circuit ministers, Helen, Gareth and Nigel and with Leslie Newton, the District Chair who have all agreed. This does not mean that we are stopping worshipping as followers of Christ and I would encourage you to join together, even though we are apart physically, at the time when you would normally be attending Church using the resources that I have circulated.
With my medical head, this is a wise and easy decision but with my heart, I share with you, that this is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions in my ministry particularly so close to end of my time with you. I encourage you to continue to serve one another in whatever ways you can, in prayer, by phone, by letter, and if you are in the younger, less vulnerable group, by offering practical help with shopping and collecting prescriptions.
I have also attached the service for isolation again and can I take this opportunity to remind you that there is a lot of information on the Methodist Website including the link to the resources for worship. Here is the link to that page.
Please share this letter with as many people as you can. We are the Body of Christ, and in this time of separateness we are still one body and remain the people of God in this place. Please if you feel lonely then ring someone and if you think that someone else will be struggling then ring them. Of course, all the ministers are around and available for you to contact. The ministry of the phone, and the opportunities for digital contact including video calls for those who can, are really important as we travel though this.
The government advice is being updated on a daily basis and the Methodist Church website is also being updated regularly. I urge you all, ministers, pastoral visitors, preachers, stewards and congregations to follow the government's advice. Here, the circuit office will be closed, and Diane and Pip will be working from home; the circuit phone and emails will be diverted to them so use them as you would normally.
If you have any questions about this, please contact me or your minister.
I pray that through this difficult time, we will know that the love of God surrounds us and that his peace will give comfort at a time when fear and anxiety are high.
God bless you all.