Update 25 March 2020 15:00. All services of public worship in church buildings are suspended.
There will be no public services of worship at St Mary’s or St Peter’s Church until further notice as we implement the advice given by the Church of England. Please click here for details, including arrangements for funerals, weddings and baptisms (opens in new tab).
Please be assured that prayer will continue and that will will continue to offer pastoral support and practical help as far as we are able.
Our parish office landline number is no longer monitored. Staff are working from home and can be contacted on 07561 334695. Please be patient as the volume of calls is high.
Be kind, be connected, be calm
The rapid global spread of the Coronavirus infection has led to extraordinary measures being taken by governments and authorities. This is a fast-moving situation and the guidance we receive is updated regularly to reflect the UK government’s instructions.
As churches, our core mission to worship, pray, care and serve is unchanged. But the new situation restricts us from doing some things that have been part of a familiar pattern for a long time.
As we adjust to these new changes, we need to be kind, be connected and be calm.
25 March 2020
We are going to follow the guidance we’re given. That’s because taking these precautions is a way of looking out for one another’s interests, not just our own narrow self-interest. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul exhorted the church to come together in worship in ways that supported each other, especially those were less able to look after themselves. Just as it’s wrong to greedily stockpile toilet rolls at the expense of others, it’s wrong to behave in ways that may feel fine for us personally but which creates health risks for vulnerable people. I’m grateful to everyone who has followed the advice we’ve been given over the last few weeks.
Let’s keep in touch. The original Greek word for church, ekklesia, means ‘gathering’. So getting together is fundamental to us. But for a while, it may be necessary for some of us to stay away from our gatherings. It’s really important that people don’t become socially isolated, even if they remain at home. Please keep in contact with friends, ideally by phone calls. Have you shared your contact details with neighbours and friends who may need you? And will you be confident to ask for a chat when you feel a bit lonely?
We are planning for ways of staying in touch during this health emergency, which is likely to last for a while.
God is with us and will not forsake us. We have served God in our town since Saxon times, through all kinds of serious perils. Our churches have been soaked in prayer, and they have been sanctuaries for the frightened and lost.
We can all play our part in remaining calm during this challenging time. And by drawing deeply on our spiritual resources, we can know the peace of God, which passes all understanding.
Make time to pray with thankfulness and with hope. Read the scriptures and let God lead you in your walk with him.
Thank you for reading this and for your patience and steadfastness at this time.
Yours in Christ,
In this time of pandemic
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
For those in isolation
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill,
afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For those who are worried
you are compassionate to those in need
and heal the sick in body and mind.
Look kindly on those
who are fearful at this time.
Help us all to put away
all thoughts and actions
that separate us from you
and from one another.
Give us grace to live our lives
confident in your promise that you are with us always. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to care for the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake. Amen.
For those who are ill
we entrust to your unfailing
and tender care,
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there
to hold us safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For health workers
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom
to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From one who is ill or isolated
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.