As we shall not be worshipping in church at the end of each week we shall publish on the website (Church Services) the Collect, Bible Reading References and Prayers for use at home. Because of confidentiality we will not be publishing names of the sick, departed and years mind.
There is a very good add to help us to worship from home from Tewkesbury Abbey which can be found at: https://mcusercontent.com/0798654a224188ba776646e6d/files/634be9e6-3f05-4fd2-a5b4-f7883af73233/Praying_from_home_2.pdf.
People really are trying to do their best.
A Prayer for the Coronavirus Situation
'Merciful God, we pray for the the many people who have contracted Coronavirus.
Bring comfort to those grieving loved ones who have died and peace to those worried, fearful and uncertain as the virus spreads. We also
pray for governments and authorities who are developing strategies to contain and deal with the virus and those in the health
services who may be risking their own lives to care for sick patients.
Help us all to be responsible in the things that we do in our lives to prevent the spread of
the virus by taking heed of the recommended precautions and avoiding situations which
may make things worse ... Amen'
TO ALL CHURCH OF ENGLAND CLERGY
17 March 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We wanted to write to you today to offer you advice and encouragement at this very difficult time for the whole of our country. Please find attached to this letter some careful guidance. We write this letter having consulted with the bishops across the Church of England and are grateful to them for their wisdom and help.
Thank you for all that you do and will continue to do as disciples of Jesus Christ and ministers of the Gospel. We recognise what a very unusual and painful time this is for everyone and we want to stress that we are praying for you all and are very grateful for all that you are doing.
It has always been the historic vocation of the Church of England to be the church for everyone. William Temple, one of the great Archbishops of Canterbury and York of the last century, is often quoted as saying that we are the one organisation which exists for the benefit of its ‘non-members’. As the challenge of the coronavirus grips the world, and as the Government asks every individual and every organisation to rethink its life, we are now asking the Church of England in all its parishes, chaplaincies and ministries to serve all people in a new way. Public worship will have to stop for a season. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold. But this does not mean that the Church of England has shut up shop. Far from it. We need to look at new ways of serving everyone:
1. Where you can and where it is prudent, we encourage all clergy to continue their pattern of daily prayer and, if it is your practice and can be done within the constraints as set out, a daily Eucharist. It is vital to observe strictly the protocols of hygiene and, where necessary, self-isolation and social distancing. This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise for the nation and for the world. Please do of course keep the church buildings open for private prayer wherever possible as we know so many do all the time.
2. If churches and worshipping communities have the resources to live stream then they should do so. This will enable the people of God and anyone and everyone who looks to God for support and meaning in this time of crisis to participate in the life of worship at home. At the same time, both nationally and in our dioceses, we will produce and provide resources for prayer and worship in the home. This will be especially important for those who are self isolating, but also for the benefit of everyone.
3. Many people are going to suffer during these coming months as the coronavirus reaches its peak. Tragically there will be deaths and so many will be grieving and fearful. We, the Church of Jesus Christ, with our sisters and brothers from other Christian churches, must be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable, and we offer our services to all those who are beginning to think through how best to provide for those in need. Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day. We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support. Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable, so do continue to play your part in those.
Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the gospel – a hope that will counter fear and isolation - will spread across our land. We have called, along with our fellow church leaders, for a day of prayer and action this coming Sunday - Mothering Sunday (22nd March). Mothering Sunday has always been both a day of celebration for many and a sensitive and emotional day for some. Wherever you are this Sunday please do join in this day of prayer and action and remember especially those who are sick or anxious, and all involved in our Health Service. As one action, we are calling on everyone to place a lighted candle in their window at 7.00 p.m. as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.
This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world. Please, therefore, join us in this great challenge; and pray for our Government and nation, for each other, and especially for those who work in our health and emergency services.
With every blessing,
+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis
CORONAVIRUS: A PASTORAL STATEMENT FROM THE RT REVD PHILIP MOUNSTEPHEN, BISHOP OF TRURO
My friends, I’m sharing this message today not just with the clergy and people of the Diocese of Truro, but with everyone here in Cornwall at what is a very challenging time for us all.
You’ll be aware of how much has changed in just a few short days. By now you will probably have heard too the call of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to suspend public worship for a season. That will come as a shock and challenge to many of you, but in the circumstances, and following the best medical advice, I’m sure it’s right.
But I want to say very clearly to you that does not mean the Church is shutting up shop! Far from it. Now is the time for the Church of God to rise to this great challenge of our times. I cannot help but feel that this crisis challenges us deeply to be just the kind of Church our God is a calling us to be.
ONE AND ALL
And I believe too that that this crisis challenges Cornwall to be its very best: to express in heart and soul the spirit of One and All.
So to us all in Cornwall I would say – let us be the very best we can be. This is the opportunity we all have to shine, to be our better selves. It’s a great challenge: but let’s rise to it.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
And if you are feeling isolated and fearful, remember you are not alone. There are many people standing by you, even if you can’t see them – and our God has not changed: he remains good and faithful and we can trust him and rely upon him. He won’t let us down.
And if you’re working in the public services, our NHS, the emergency services and the caring professions, planning and working to respond in the best way possible to the many challenges we face and who may be very stretched in the days to come: do know that we are cheering you on. We’re deeply thankful for you and are praying for you – and for your families too.
For the Church – whilst our pattern of worship will change significantly I think our church buildings need to be more open, not less, providing space for people to come and pray and be and socially interact (at an appropriate distance of course). We should use digital media creatively wherever we can and we are working on identifying a few churches in the diocese where live streaming of worship might be possible.
And we need to be the feet on the ground in our communities – identifying those who are lonely and isolated, fearful and grieving and doing all we can, within the constraints that are placed up on us, and without exposing people to unnecessary risk, to show in word and in deed the love of Christ.
LET’S KEEP FOOD BANKS STOCKED
Likewise there will be others who will find these times very challenging economically: again we need to do all we can to meet their needs. Let’s keep the foodbanks well stocked up.
So for us as a church this will not be business as usual. But it will NOT be no business, it will be ‘business unusual’. We’ll still be about the business of the Kingdom of God, but in new, different, committed, creative and deeply caring ways.
The big question this crisis asks of us as a Church is this: will we meet its challenge to love and serve and give as Jesus did, for we are nothing less than his Body here on earth? I pray we will and will not be found wanting at this great hour of need.
And to all of us I would say, across Cornwall, in this crisis, let’s be people of prayer. This crisis is bigger than any of us. But God is greater. So we need not be fearful – in the end we can be people of hope, as we become people of prayer: because there is a good future for us, beyond this, a good future that God holds out for us all.
‘PRAY WITH ME NOW’
And as this virus is no respecter of borders, I’m going to close with a prayer written by our neighbour, Bishop Robert, Bishop of Exeter. If you’d like to, do pray with me now:
Keep us good Lord under the shadow of your mercy, in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort, knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
And may God bless us all.