Service for 4/10/20 by Revd David Howlett

Dear Friends

The past week has been a turbulent time, not only government rules, but local rules across the country have been changing in order to cope with the onset of the second phase of the pandemic. We’re all in unknown territory, and those who lead our country are placed in a very invidious position, of trying to save the population from the disastrous effects of a substantial second wave, which would result in great suffering, both in terms of illness and death, while at the same time endeavouring to ensure that the economy returns to some level of stability, and that as many jobs as possible are saved. One thing I think we have to get used to, and that is continual, an unexpected change, as experience is gained.

It’s likely that the new normal, will be an ever changing normal, until a vaccine has been found and distributed, not only in this country, but indeed across the world.

This surely must  have been the experience of the early emerging Christian Church, as it faced both growth and persecution, and overlaid upon this were disputes among the leaders as to the best way to progress; but progress we did, and from a small insignificant sect, Christ’s influence has grown to at least 2 billion people, or as much as a third of the population of the world – certainly the largest religious faith. There remains a great deal to do, and I feel sure that we have not nearly reached the ideals to which the Holy Spirit is leading. It is however, a story from which we may draw great encouragement.

Some of our churches now offer Sunday Worship within their buildings, while others are preparing to do so. Some too will be revising  their thoughts in the light of increased infection, but what ever decisions may be taken we need to remember that many in our congregations are elderly, and some may not be prepared to return to normal church meetings with complete confidence, until vaccination has taken place.  In this respect I continue to refer you to the URC East Midlands Synod Web Site https://www.urc5.org.uk/ , and the  ‘Latest URC Covid-19 advice – Emerging into the New Normal’, found at https://www.urc5.org.uk/content/latest-urc-covid19-advice-emerging-new-normal. This document, is prepared by the Synod Moderators.

Please consider the Personal Risk Assessment Form which will be found in the documentation mentioned above: note that for those scoring 6 or above, the advice is:- ‘A score of 6 or more suggests a high risk, and indicates that you should continue to work or participate in church life from your home’. It is also important, if your buildings are being opened up, to ensure that our Synod  Property Officer, Mr Geoff  Milnes, is informed prior to Church Building opening. This can be done,  through the Synod office using property@urc5.org.uk. Further good advice is available in the Synod E-Letter 325 – 23rd July 2020.

With the release, this last week, of the NHS Covid 19 mobile phone  App, QR Code posters enabling Test and Trace to operate MUST be displayed  at ALL entrances to church and Church Buildings. We must remember the church is the “venue manager” and retains overall responsibility for ALL groups using church buildings. A copy of the latest instruction received from  the Synod Office, is attached to this email, for church leaders knowledge.

As usual, with this email, I attach the service for next Sunday 4th October,  at this early opportunity.  The service is in the form of  low level technology, so that those who have access to simple emails may receive it, and may forward it on to our other brothers and sisters whose email addresses I do not have, with minimum effort,  should it be felt appropriate. Now that folk have established a routine for those to whom they forward a copy of the service, I commit the circulation to Blind Carbon Copy. The pdf contains the hymn words, largely from ‘Rejoice & Sing’, so that you may sing along, as I know you do.  Some prayers and the readings for the day, from the Revised Common Lectionary, on which the URC Prayer Handbook is based, are included. This service, would have been shared with our Wycliffe URC had it been open.

May I once again remind you of the very excellent services and devotions which the URC is providing at: https://devotions.urc.org.uk/

Every blessing to you all as you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for all you continue to do.

David

Support Papers 4.10.20

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