Letter from Rev. Stephen Wookey
Forgive another letter but it has been another extraordinary day, and we feel it is important to keep everyone as up to date as possible. The Archbishops of York and Canterbury published some advice earlier today, and the Diocese of Gloucester has written since to ensure we are clear as to the next steps. This is in essence what we have been told, with some comments of my own on how we are dealing with it here [my words in the square brackets].
Public worship will have to stop with immediate effect. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold. [What we are planning instead is to live stream both morning services on a Sunday either through Facebook and / or YouTube. We will let you know later this week how to find it, but it should be on the front page of our website.]
Weddings and baptisms can take place, provided you follow all the national guidance and hygiene measures. BUT they can only be attended by a small number of people, who must be able to follow physical distancing guidelines. People need to remain two metres apart from each other [I presume the bride and groom are excepted! We have let the various couples who are getting married in April know, and will contact the others shortly]
Wedding banns: banns cannot currently be read, as there is no principle service. Details from the registry will be on the diocesan website by Friday.
Funerals: at present the same guidance as with weddings and baptisms applies to funerals. We expect further guidance on this over the next couple of days.
Non-essential face to face pastoral visits should be changed to conversations over the phone/Skype etc. [We hope to be able to pray with people over the phone.]
All non-essential meetings, committees and boards should be cancelled. That includes PCCs, Chapters and Synods. The Diocese will share further guidance around how good governance is continued during the coming weeks.
APCMs advice will be coming out in the next few days. We expect these to be postponed, but we will keep you updated.
Home groups etc: should not meet physically but could be done in a different way, using Facebook or Zoom etc. [This relates to our home groups, Mums and Tots, Christianity Explored, prayer meetings, Men’s group, Women’s Bible Studies etc.]
Whilst no public services will happen this Mothering Sunday (22 March), we ask that you join in with the Archbishops’ National Day of Prayer. And remember we are encouraging everyone to join us in prayer – spiritually not physically – every evening at 9 pm. I am sorry this is so draconian but we all understand the reasons why. My prayer is that rather than our being divided by our not meeting together, we will actually find we draw closer as we pray, share over the phone, by text, Skype or email, and it will give us a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with others.
With my very best wishes in our Lord Jesus Christ