Dear Church Families
‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ‘ (Psalm 23:1)
The COVID-19 virus seems to be changing so many things, so quickly too. But, wonderfully, it does not and cannot change the most important things of all. It doesn’t change who God is. And it doesn’t change who we are as we look to him: dearly-loved children of our Father in heaven, people for whom the Lord Jesus died, and those in whom his Spirit now dwells. Nor does it change what he calls us to do: to worship him together as we trust, serve, and obey him, as we love one another, and as we hold out the good news of the Lord Jesus to others too.
However, the virus is inevitably having a significant impact on how we live together as churches at the moment, as we honour our Government by following the guidance they have given, and as we implement more detailed guidance issued by the Church of England too. In practice, this means the following changes for the foreseeable future:
· No Sunday services in any of our churches. Public Sunday services will not be happening in any of our churches for the foreseeable future. We really don’t give them up lightly, since meeting as gathered congregations is one of the Lord’s great means of grace to his people, through which he grows our faith and makes us more like Jesus. So please be praying that he will keep sustaining and growing us for however long it is until we can meet together in our normal Sunday patterns again. As ministers, we will be doing all we can to give everyone in our churches opportunities to listen to the Bible being ‘preached’ into our lives each week and to pray together, even while we can’t actually meet together.
Other joint church events cancelled or
postponed. All other joint church events have been postponed for the
Church buildings are closed.
Arborfield and Barkham church buildings are closed in accordance with Church of England guidelines.
· No small group meetings. Given the guidance on social distancing, we have also taken the reluctant decision to stop our mid-week small group meetings for now. However, where possible, we are encouraging all groups to meet virtually instead, to continue looking at the Bible, praying together, and encouraging one another.
· Caring for one another. We remain brothers and sisters in Christ, so now, more than ever, we need to be looking out for one another. We encourage every member of our church families to play their part in this, particularly watching out for those who might find this time especially hard (eg those who are older and those who live on their own). We also encourage members of our church families to let others know if they need any particular help at any stage, where possible using small groups as a first point of call, but contacting their ministers or the Church Office if need be too.
· Caring for the local community. We would love to serve others in the local community who may need particular help at this time too (eg shopping, someone to talk to, or perhaps a Bible to read). We invite anyone in the local area to be in touch via the Church Office and we will gladly do what we can to help.
· Church Office. When calling the Church Office, please leave a message. These are being monitored and responded to regularly.
In the meantime, we continue to pray that the Lord will:
- bring an end to this virus;
- guide our Government and others leading the response in the UK and around the world;
- protect especially the elderly and most vulnerable in our communities;
- bring about his good purposes through this time, as he humbles our pride, draws us closer to himself, grows us more like Jesus, and brings others into his family too.
Please join us in praying for these things.
With much love,
Piers, Andy, Julian, Mark, and David