5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5
Important Information regarding new Government restrictions
I hope that you have been able to experience the joy of Christmas despite the restrictions which we have been living with — Christ's coming among us is a present reality even in these circumstances, as the verse from John's Gospel makes clear!!!!
Last March, when we were first placed in lockdown, some of us were hoping to be 'back to normal' by September, others suggested that Christmas might be a better target. Unfortunately, we're still not there — the new Covid variant seems to be much more easily transmissible and there were over 50,000 new Covid cases and 981 Covid deaths announced by the government yesterday. Lancashire has now been in placed in Tier 4 restrictions, with the guidance 'Residents should stay at home, unless they have a "reasonable excuse" such as work or education'.
With this news, I believe the right decision at this time is that, once again, all church buildings in our Circuit should be closed for worship, prayer meetings, bible studies etc. with immediate effect and we must continue with alternative forms of worship — Zoom-based, printed sheets, TV, radio, youtube etc. (funerals can go ahead with the government published limit to numbers and marriage services only in exceptional circumstances).
This decision has been taken following conversation and consultation with Rev Paul Davis (Chair of District) and other Superintendents in Lancashire. Every encounter that we have with other people, and every building that we visit, is a risk and it is clear that we should minimise the risks that we take for our own health, the health of others (particularly the elderly and more vulnerable members of our community) and also in order to reduce the pressure on the NHS. We should therefore avoid face-to-face encounters as much as possible and minimise the different places that we go to. (Note — while communal worship is legally permitted, it does not mean that it is the right thing to do with so many vulnerable people in our communities).
It is with mixed feelings that this decision has had to be taken — I realise that it impacts on many people across our circuit who have valued the opportunity to gather with others for worship, but we must do everything we can to minimise the spread of the virus. It is also important that we stand alongside our neighbours — those in our communities whose businesses are closed and those whose activities are curbed.
The Circuit will continue to provide two zoom-based services — Jo Towers (Circuit Administrator) will continue to send the login information each week by email. The written 'Worship from Home' service sheets are also available to anyone who would like them. If anyone wants to receive the Zoom login information or the 'Worship from Home' sheets then they should contact � Jo Towers — firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07922768516.
Please continue to care for and support one another, to pray for one another and for the wider community and the world. Please also reach out in love to the most vulnerable in your neighbourhood.
"5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5
Grace and peace,
Rev Steve Charman
Superintendent Minister (North Lancashire Methodist Circuit)