After social distancing consultation the clear consensus from the stewards of all 3 churches was that it was not practicable to open up the churches for individual prayer. The guidelines and advice offered by the government, connexion, and circuit went against the desire to begin the process back to something like ‘normality’.
In our hearts we wanted desperately to open up our churches, but the health and safety and management were a challenge to uphold. With planning we could have operated a one-way system, cordoned off areas, provided sanitation stations, etc. It would have been strange to invite people in with no socialising in the form of general conversation or tea and biscuits, (not to mention no leading from the front, no use of books or handouts – unless the people were to take them away with them.
But the main stumbling block was the government guidelines that over 70’s should not be encouraged to attend. Given the fact that as a denomination we do not particularly embrace this form of contemplative prayer in our buildings and the difficulty of being able to steward reliably and consistently, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was not feasible to offer the opportunity of individual prayer, especially considering we are doing it already in our own homes.
When the opportunity to open up more fully becomes available if the government advice remains that over 70’s are not encouraged to gather we will need to seek advice from connexion and circuit. Incidentally, anyone who normally receives a flu jab was advised not to enter a church for individual prayer which left me wondering who in our churches would be eligible to attend?
It is a time of confusion and frustration, please bear with us, please continue to care, and comfort each other. Rest assured as soon as we can, we will meet together and have real songs of praise.
Until that time can I suggest we follow the guidelines and advice that God gave to king Ahaz when he was facing a difficult time in his life, through the prophet Isaiah God said ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid’ Isaiah Chapter 7 verse 4 (A thought to ponder does that 3 point sermon mean that God is a Methodist? You may well want to begin your time of individual prayer thanking God that he is not a Methodist!)