We have now heard that our buildings can be open again for very limited activity; private prayer and small funerals. This is good news, and we hope those spaces will bring comfort and peace to those who enter them. There are, as you can imagine, strict guidelines for reopening, and we will need a host of volunteers to supervise. In the first instance, these are our opening times;
- Wednesday 10.30-12.30am Holy Trinity, next to the hospital
- Friday 10.30-12.30am St Laurence, to coincide with the market
- Saturday 10.30-12.30am St Laurence, to coincide with the market
- Small Funerals can be held at St Matthew’s
If you are under 70 with no underlying conditions and feel able to volunteer, please do contact Simon; [email protected]
However, I would urge you not to become too focussed on our buildings.
Our buildings may be closed but the church is very much open! I would encourage us to continue to be those who bring salt and light in the places where we are. Keep praying, keep being kind, keep asking how your neighbors are, keep demonstrating the love of God in your conversations, actions, and encounters. And keep noticing where God’s Kingdom is growing beyond the walls of our buildings, and celebrate. Writing in the New Statesman on 24 April Sebastian Shehadi and Miriam Partington say: ‘Recent data shows that others may be engaging more with religion since lockdown. The fact that Bible app downloads shot up in March globally is one indication of this. The top English-language Bible on Google Play and App The store was installed almost two million times, the highest amount ever recorded for March, according to App figures. Similarly, one of the UK’s largest online Christian bookstores, Eden, has seen physical Bible sales rise by 55% in April, while Google searches for ‘prayer’ and ‘Christianity’ have skyrocketed. The pandemic has triggered a ‘historic spiritual moment’, says Dr. Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who is unsurprised by the growth in Bible-reading. He notes that engagement with online church services is also booming and that it is a response to feelings of disorientation, fragility, and fear caused by the crisis. The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who is chairing the Church of England Recovery Group, has issued a statement which reads: ‘We all want to see places of worship open as soon as is safe and practical and we have been very actively planning to that end, drawing up detailed advice to help parishes prepare… We believe it could help bring healing and strength to many who are hurting amid this traumatic time, with our churches acting in so many places at the center of community life, which is now beginning to resume.’