This is the message shared by our minister with our church community this morning. If you have any questions, or need to speak to someone in this anxious time, you can find Leigh's contact details on the 'get in touch' page.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this, but in accordance with the latest guidance from the government and the Baptist Union, all church meetings and activities will be suspended with immediate effect, until such time as the official advice changes. This means that Sunday services, house groups, Messy events and the wellbeing cafe are all cancelled until further notice.
The building may be closed but that does not mean church is cancelled, and we will be exploring creative ways to worship together and accompany one another in this difficult time.
* On Sunday mornings, I will publish an online 'service' with prayers and links to hymns as well as a sermon and some reflection points, so that we can share in worship though we are apart. This will be found at stoneygatebaptist.org.uk/blog, and for those who cannot access this online, I can print and deliver notes.
* On Monday mornings, when we would otherwise have been opening the wellbeing cafe, I will use our social media to share some thoughts on wellbeing, and I encourage those who can to stop at noon for a few minutes of quiet reflection. If you wish to use the prayer of examen, a form of which we use at the wellbeing cafe, this video may be helpful: youtube.com/watch?v=G40noy9bsIk. Renew Wellbeing are also sharing daily videos and weekly blogs, which can be found at renewwellbeing.org.uk/
* I have already started to collect some hopeful thoughts and helpful advice on the blog and will continue to update this, in the hope that it might provide some solace and relief. The post can be found at stoneygatebaptist.org.uk/post/love-in-a-time-of-covid-19
* I am looking into conference or video calling as an alternative to house groups, for any who are interested. Please let me know if this is something you would like to engage with.
* In place of gathering for Messy events, I will email our Messy families on our planned dates with some ideas for activities they can do at home and a positive thought for the day, to try and retain some sense of community there.
* Given the latest advice for pregnant women, I am under instructions to work from home, which will make visiting difficult (although I hope not impossible under necessary and safe conditions) but I will remain contactable by phone and email for prayer and conversation.
* A high proportion of our congregation are considered high risk or are already self-isolating, which limits what we can do to support one another or our wider communities, but I encourage everyone to keep connected and keep praying. We need to hold one another in prayer and love now more than ever. And if you are self-isolating and finding it difficult to keep supplied and sane, please reach out.
When I told my three year old that we wouldn't be going to church for a little while, he told me he was sad because he loves church. I know he will not be alone in that response, but I hope you understand the wisdom of this decision and are encouraged that there are still ways in which we may worship together and remain in fellowship with one another. If you have any other ideas about what we might do in this time of not being able to gather, please do share them.
In love and peace,
Rev Leigh Greenwood