Mission action plan to respond to the current coronavirus outbreak
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
We have all received the strong calls from the Church in Wales and the Prime Minister not to leave home unless it is essential. In the light of this, the time has come in Crickhowell not only for us to suspend public worship, but for us to close our church buildings entirely. All our normal ministries from Sunday services to meeting with people of various age groups are suspended. In doing this, we demonstrate how vital physical distancing is in saving lives.
The closure of St Edmund’s Church and other churches is the closure of the building, not the church, the body of Christ. We have placed notices on the church doors and also on our website explaining how people can join with the church in worship and prayer, with an emergency telephone number so that contact can be made if required.
We are blessed by having a church at the heart of our community and, as Christians, we have been called to love all those who are part of our community, no matter whether they are regular worshippers or not.
We have the potential to work in partnership with other organisations to shape our communities by love – while, of course, following all the pastoral and medical guidelines in the present situation. It is a difficult and challenging journey during which we are to explore what it means “To worship God and express the love of Jesus in the World” in the midst of coronavirus.
I hope and pray the current situation changes soon and we shall be able to resume our activities as usual. But I could also envisage this period will leave some scars behind which we shall be able to heal through the love of God.
The current situation due to COVID-19 is reshaping our ministry, which I hope won’t last too long, but may have a long term impact on the mission and ministry of the church. ‘Stay at home and do the little things’ is a great theme for this time when we all are concerned about this situation. You may notice it is a combination of the government’s advice and an extract from St David’s last instruction to his disciples.
There are three areas in which I can see our mission and ministry in Crickhowell and the area continuing whatever the situation may be:
- Stay Home, Keep Caring
- Stay Home, Worship Together
- Stay Home, Grow Together
Some of us may think this is new territory for the church, but we are not the first generation to have to disciple over a distance. After all, the New Testament epistles were written to churches or church leaders for the purpose of discipling them even, on occasions, over a long distance.
Stay Home, Keep Caring
Pastoral support through telephone calls
We shall ensure every member of the worshipping congregations is contacted at least once a week, and those who are isolated so that they are not alone. Sally has already linked each member of the Pastoral Team to 2 to 5 people; guidelines have already been issued as to how this phone contact can be managed. The ‘pastoral’ link will be different from a normal social call, and Sally will share material/prayers which can be used.
Children, Family and Youth Work
Our teams for the children and families work are looking at how to engage with young people and families with young children effectively. To send them messages and other online resources via Facebook and WhatsApp messages is an option.
Prayer items can be sent to Rennie and Melloney Gold which they will circulate to the members of the prayer group and the wider congregation through Prayer Chain (text messages and WhatsApp).
Stay Home, Worship Together
With the new guidelines on 24th March 2020 it would be challenging to produce the same sort of service that was produced on Mothering Sunday. However, a small team which I have put together will make sure the online Sunday Worship will continue via the website. James Bessant is a great help to the technical team.
Morning, Midday and Evening Prayers
The church congregations are encouraged to join with the wider church in morning, midday and evening Prayers and in using the lectionary readings during the week. Every evening at 7.00pm light a candle in your window and pray together. Say the Grace looking out through your window. We would use the same prayer we used on Sunday. If you need any resources for the Morning, Midday or Evening, please get in touch with Julian or Sally or look at the website.
Stay Home, Grow Together
We have four Home Groups which meet every week. However, during Lent, Home Groups were meeting together as part of the Lent study. Julian Stedman now sends the study material via email to those who were attending the study in church before we called off all the activities.
How do we maintain our small groups when we can’t meet? Though we cannot be in the same room, this does not mean our groups have to stop. Simon Large is creating the possibility for the Home Groups and other groups e.g. worship leaders, Tuesday Prayer, and Men’s Breakfast etc. to meet together while staying home. There are various free options available such as Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp etc. Please contact Simon if you have any other ideas. We will let you know what’s happening by email and on the website.
Julian will be sending some material about evangelism and discipleship, which may help you to grow in your relationship with God and also may help when you are speaking to the other members of our churches and the community.
Our God is close and asks us to be close to each other, not to move away from each other. And in this moment of crisis for the pandemic we are experiencing, asks us to manifest this closeness more, to show it more. We cannot, perhaps, physically get closer because of the fear of contagion, but yes, we can awaken in us an attitude of closeness among us: with prayer, with solidarity, many forms of closeness.Pope Francis