I write this letter in view of the guidance from central government and the Methodist Connexion, to say that in the current context of the spreading COVID-19 (Corona Virus) global pandemic that has sadly been recorded in our country, and the sad losses of life, we have suspended all meetings and public worship in all the Meon Valley Circuit of the Methodist Church.
Alternative worship resources are being considered at this stage, including internet based services, as well as the ones available at https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/worship/singing-the-faith-plus/seasons-and-themes/worship-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/.
There is an order of service for Mothering Sunday service you can download to your computer, tablet or smartphone.
In partnership with Tizz and our preachers in the Circuit, I am hoping that we will be looking into how we can ensure that people can join together to worship God by telephone. This will mean that those without internet can still worship with someone.
I and Pete Bangs, alongside Pastoral Visitors throughout our churches will still be able to carry out our pastoral care of the churches by telephone or email.
If you or someone else in the churches or in the community needs to speak to someone, you can phone me on 01329 833 518 in the first instance. If you however want to speak to your Pastoral Visitor, and you know their telephone number, you can phone them directly. But make sure you don’t give your Pastoral Visitor’s number to other people without your Pastoral Visitor’s permission.
All lay office holders in our churches are available on their usual phone numbers as well as email, and you can continue to contact them in the same way you have been doing.
Please feel free to ask us if there is something you need to know – and there will be things I have not mentioned in this letter, and we will do our best between us to find out the answer for you. We will all have to practice patience and kindness to each other and the wider community as we stay together to get through this challenging time by God’s help.
Some have been very disappointed that we have had to have public worship and meetings suspended. That is understandable. We can take comfort, I hope, in the knowledge that our God is not confined to our buildings, and that when circumstances such has been dictated by COVID-19, it is alright for us not to gather together in buildings. It only becomes wrong if there are no good reasons why we choose not to meet together in one place.
There were times in the Bible when people had to go into isolation. See Leviticus 13. The goal of what was commanded was to stop the infections from spreading to the whole community. The measures we are all to observe are targeted at the same goal. It is about preserving life. One of the Methodist Church distinctives is the tenet “Do no harm”.
During this time of isolation or a possible lockdown, we should pray for one another, pray for the world, pray with our families, and read good Christian materials, especially the Bible and pray around what you read. Please think about fellow-Christians, neighbours, work colleagues and friends. Email them or phone them to see how they are and offer some hope as you are able.
I leave you with Psalm 27, and pray that you observe all the good hygiene guidance to take care of your own wellbeing and that of everyone else.
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Revd. Joseph Tembo.