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Dear all,

You will probably have heard on the news that the Church of England has decided to suspend all public worship with immediate effect.

I kept hearing on LBC, yesterday, that all worship has been suspended. That is not true, of course. Worship will continue – in church and at home – but it will have to be private rather than public. And worship will be different. We will have to be creative and find new ways of doing worship.

Every parish in the Church of England is required to have a Eucharist on a Sunday. This requirement has not been lifted. I will be celebrating the Eucharist in church on Sunday mornings at 10am. Unfortunately, this cannot be a public service. Do let me know if you’d like a copy of the order of service so you can pray along while the Eucharist is being celebrated in church. As Christians we actually believe that the worshipping community is larger than those physically present in a (church) building. We believe that when we pray we do so in the company of Christians who have gone before us and who will come after us and with Christians wherever they are in the world. This means that we will still be worshipping together, even if we are not in the same building.

The Church of England recommends that we livestream services. I am not sure whether we will be able to do this, as we have no internet connection at the church and mobile phone signal is not very good on the hill. Also, I am really not sure whether watching me celebrate the Eucharist in an empty church would be very uplifting…. Do let me know what you think.

We will be opening the church most days next week. During this time, Sue or I or both will be present. Opening the church will allow people to come in for private prayer. If you would like to make use of that opportunity, please, use hand sanitiser before entering the church and on leaving and keep 6 feet or 2 metres away from other people. Please, do not talk to people in church, but give them a chance to pray. If you would like to talk to someone, please, do so outside, but make sure you stay 2 metres apart. Also make sure that you catch any sneezes or coughs in tissues. Thank you.

The pattern for church opening times next week will be:

Sunday 22nd March: 10.30am – 12noon

Monday 23rd March: 11am – 12noon

Tuesday 24th March: 9am – 10am

Wednesday 25th March: 2pm-3pm

Thursday 26th March: 7pm – 8pm

Friday 27th March: church not open

Saturday 28th March: 10am – 11am

We’ll review these opening hours towards the end of next week and let you know the pattern for the following week. Please, do let us have your feedback.

We will ring the church bells when we open the church to let people know that the church is still here and that we are still praying.

During the open times there will be quiet music. I will also put the posters for the Stations of the Cross up and I will put the text on the wall next to them. In this church we have a tradition of doing the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. In other churches they do the Stations of the Cross throughout Lent. The Stations of the Cross can be done by a person on their own and they are a good way of helping us prepare for Easter, and preparing for Easter is not going to be the same, this year, as other years. We will not be able to have public services during Holy Week, this year, so it will be up to us to try and find ways to ensure that Holy Week will still be poignant.

The Bishop of Southwark has asked all clergy to pray the Lord’s Prayer at 1pm and 7pm every day, to pray together for our nation and for all those affected by the coronavirus. Please, do join in with that if you can.

The Church of England have provided liturgical resources for use at home. Please, do have a look at the link below. There are prayers to be used at home, prayers to be used with children and even short services.

Do make use of these resources, if you are able to. If you know of elderly people near you who do not have access to computers, maybe you could print a hard copy off of relevant prayers / services and pass it on to them? Thank you.

Do let us know if you know of anyone who would like someone to ring them from time to time or who needs help with shopping etc.

The foodbank is running low on supplies. If you are able to donate items to the foodbank, please, could you bring them to church at times when the church is open? Katelyn Toth-Fejel has kindly agreed to collect these items and take them to the foodbank. If you can’t get to church, she is also willing to collect items from your porch. Please, let me know if you’d like donations to be collected.

Finally, the Bishop of Southwark has suggested that, if safe to do so, we light a candle in our window each evening as a symbol of Christ’s light in our world at this dark time.

Please, be assured of my prayers. These are strange times for all of us. Do look after each other as much as possible, keep safe and don’t lose hope!

God bless,

Mtr Ariadne

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