Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
I will not be shaken.
My salvation and glory
depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.
The words above from Psalm 62 seem very appropriate – and comforting – in the current situation. From being a distant threat out in China, the coronavirus has hit home with unexpected and dramatic consequences. The announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday has escalated the nation’s response to the pandemic, particularly the advice on ‘social distancing’ for all citizens (not just those in at risk groups).
As a church we have to take seriously the advice for everyone to avoid gatherings of people. The government has made clear that the reason for these new measures is to protect the most vulnerable and save lives. In light of this advice, and after much thought and prayer, we have decided to cancel church meetings for the next month. We will then review the situation on a month-by-month basis. In taking this step we are following the advice of the FIEC (read more here) and we know of other churches and denominations doing the same.
Our church events during this week have already been cancelled, including the toddlers, children’s and youth groups, and the members’ meeting on Thursday will not go ahead. Our mission conference will be postponed to a later date, hopefully sometime in the autumn, and there will be no gatherings at both Pelham Street and Fernwood on Sunday.
We have not made this decision lightly and appreciate the impact it will have on our life as a church, and as individuals. However, we need to be responsible and do whatever we can to protect the most vulnerable in our church and wider society – those whom the Lord has particular concern for. We are also called to submit to the governing authorities that God has placed over us for our good (Romans 13:1-7), and this surely includes listening to advice they give.
Over the coming days we will give more details about how we plan to continue our regular pastoral care and discipleship, including live streaming sermons. Just because we can’t gather as a church for the time being doesn’t stop us being and ‘doing’ church. We can continue to grow together in Christ, loving and caring for one another, and reaching out to the lost. Please pray for each other and exchange messages and phone calls, especially with those who may not have family support nearby.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before him.
God is our refuge.
With faith, hope and love in Him,
Andrew (with and on behalf of the Elders)