Dear Church family

I am sorry to have to write to you again so soon.  As I mentioned in my email on Friday, the situation is changing rapidly – almost hour-by-hour – and no-one is unaffected.

Nevertheless, it is with a heavy heart that I have to let you know that the Church of England has today suspended all public worship.  This means that all Sunday gatherings will cease for the time being.  Sadly, it also means that we must also suspend all our other regular activities: Crofters, Thursday Fellowship, Shine, The Grid and so on.

But this does not mean that the church stops being the church!  We are urgently looking for different ways in which we can continue to be a church family that loves and cares for each other and the wider community.  

There are four particular things on our minds:

  1. Sunday Worship: We are looking at how we might be able to gather virtually, probably by live streaming.  (If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry: we’ll explain later!)
  2. Community Outreach: Many of our neighbours will be feeling lonely, isolated or even imprisoned.  If you are aware of a need you can’t help with, please let me know.  If you could offer help but need support of some sort (for example: you can go shopping for people but need petrol money), please let me know.
  3. Prayer: We can all pray all the time whether we’re together or alone.  St Thomas’s is remaining open during daylight hours for private prayer.  Also, as you know, we’ve recently launched Friday 45 – three-quarters of an hour of prayer on Friday evenings.  We’re looking at how we can do this online which of course makes it easier for people who find it difficult to get out in the evening or who are not quite sure what they would be going to!
  4. Support for each other:  Some of us will really struggle with isolation, so it would be wonderful if we can find ways of connecting and encouraging each other whilst we are physically separated.  The natural opportunity to catch up on a Sunday is no longer there, so could you commit to one or all of the following?
    • Call one member of the church family each day
    • Text one member of the church family each day – even one you don’t know personally yet…
    • Write a postcard or note to someone once a week
    • Offer to do someone’s shopping

These are just some ideas; if you have other suggestions, please share them.  Please also keep an eye on our website where you’ll find the latest developments.

Good communication is so important at a time like this and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the information and support they need.  Do you have a spare computer that you could lend or give to someone who is not yet online?  Do you have the time and skills to set someone up so that they can easily have access to whatever we are able to live stream?  If we can produce a friendly card offering help to the house-bound, would you be willing to put them through doors?

Finally, let me remind you of what we learned in last week’s sermon on Luke 22:7-38.  Jesus pointed out to his apostles how the world outside the church thinks and reacts in certain situations.  Then he said, “But not so with you.”  Like me, you have probably seen lots of different reactions to coronavirus.  When we’re tempted to go with the flow by stockpiling pasta or whatever, Jesus says “But not so with you.”  We are to be different in our response.   Not different because we’re better, or immune, or superhuman; but different because we live in relationship with the only one who has not been taken by surprise by Covid-19: the true and living God.  The God who came and bought us with his own blood so that we need not fear death because he has defeated it.  Let us pray that our difference may be so visible that we may have the opportunity to introduce people around us to Jesus.

Tim and Jamie join me in assuring you of our prayers.