These are unprecedented times, at least in most of our lifetimes! Following our government’s announcements we have all been asked to act, seeking to delay this epidemic and safeguard our N.H.S. services from being overwhelmed. We also want to shield the vulnerable. Although most get mild symptoms, some experience very serious consequences, and a small percentage are losing their lives. Please read below our summary of the government’s requests – and then the first actions we are taking as a church.
1. ANY INDIVIDUAL WITH A HIGH TEMPERATURE OR NEW AND CONTINUOUS COUGH – Please stay at home and practise of “SELF SECLUSION”... for 7 days.... BUT, IF YOU ARE PART OF A HOUSEHOLD, THEN ALL STAY IN FOR 14 DAYS. This is to ensure that after that time, you are all clear of any virus that might be developing.
2. WE ARE ALL ASKED TO PRACTISE “SOCIAL DISTANCING” – this means to stop non essential contact with others, and any unnecessary travel. Work at home where you can, avoid social contact, as well as big groups... This applies whether we have symptoms or not. Some will feel these steps are excessive, but it is important that we respond to our government’s request, not just for our own sakes but for the sake of others. (This one is very hard for us as a church, since we work on social closeness and a family atmosphere – but let’s do it - finding fresh ways to be close and care for each other as family). Continue to wash your hands frequently, for 20 seconds at least, catch sneezes and coughs in a tissue, bin straight away and wash hands again. Learn to greet others without physical contact. If you are experiencing symptoms only call the N.H.S. if you need to..... If your symptoms worsen consult the 111 web site, Or then call 111.
3. THE VULNERABLE....Any of us over 70, or with underlying health conditions, (including those who are asked on health grounds to get an annual flu jab), or those who are pregnant, are asked to shield ourselves from social contact for 12 weeks and to largely stay at home. Take exercise in fresh air, by all means, ask someone healthy around for coffee, but please keep a distance of 6 feet!
1. ALL SUNDAY MEETINGS ARE CANCELLED AT THE MOMENT It is likely the school may stop us meeting, but in any case we need to do everything we can to cooperate with our governing authorities and help slow the spread of this terrible virus.
2. SMALL GROUPS AND YOUTH are also ceasing for the moment, so we can maintain some physical distance as requested. We have asked all small group leaders to encourage group members to think how they might still see and support others, whilst maintaining distance to prevent infection.
HOPE church is still HOPE church... so, even when there are no gatherings ....
We will be in touch later with a variety of ways you can continue to be blessed - in worship, prayer and feeding on His word. E.g. If you are on the Sunday Morning Group on Facebook, watch out for Lorna’s verse of the day... E.g. Watch out on HOPE Facebook sites for a Sunday morning worship link to some good songs… - Keep connecting with God!
Offer Help - to those in the community as well as those in the church, who you know to be in need, or self isolating. Ask For Help - if you need shopping done, practical help. etc. Contact your group leader or congregation leader or phone the church office line on 01905 821877 and leave a message. Phone each other ....(or WhatsAPP, etc) - Friends, those in your small group or activity group, but also others you think of, who might benefit from a call. Pray for one another, as well as the vulnerable, the sick, the N.H.S. and our government. We understand what the government means by “social distancing”, and will cooperate, but for us, it is physical distancing only – practically, let’s keep loving one another, but without the close meetings! - Keep connecting with others.
At a time when many are feeling vulnerable and edgy, do be ready to speak, when you get the chance, of the hope you have in Jesus. It is very likely that there will be “gospel creativity” for us to express in this time of meetings being restricted! We will continue to monitor the developing situation and communicate in line with the best advice we can get, from other church leaders we respect, as well as the health authorities and government. These steps are not being taken out of fear, though we are being faced with our human frailty and much is being shaken, but out of love for those that are vulnerable at this time.