Coronavirus update

Dear Minster & Friends

This email comes with our prayers, in what is a uniquely challenging time for our nation, and our world. I (Chris) hope and pray that you are all well, and that you have the peace of God in your heart, even as so much fear surrounds us.

There are a few things I’d like to update you on, regarding how we, as a church, are responding to the circumstances around the coronavirus:

Sundays

This Sunday, I will be live streaming from my living room, at 10.30am. You will be able to access it by clicking on this link, which goes to our church Youtube channel. I will give a short update with relevant news, followed by kicking off our new devotional series (see below). The whole live stream will only be 15-20 minutes.

From next Sunday, we are currently aiming, each week, to live stream a short worship service, from the Farm. The only physical attendees will be those directly involved (probably four or five people), and we will respect the government guidelines in terms of maintaining personal space between us. The service will involve worship, word, and prayer, and will last around 45-50 minutes.

The live streamed services will be aimed at adults and youth; but will also include ways for children to engage, and continue their discipleship journey. There are a range of ways that we might do this, and Hedy and I are currently working on a plan. More details will follow next week.

Devotional Series
As mentioned above, from this Sunday, we will be launching a devotional series, based around either Esther or Ruth. The details of this are still to be confirmed, but I am hoping that we will use a combination of live and recorded resources. My current aim is to start by alternating a ‘daily briefing’ from me, with a short devotional from one of our church family. However, this is subject to change. Full details to follow.

Pastoral Care
We are currently finalising our plans regarding how we set up effective prayer and pastoral care networks. This will make use of some existing groups, including Minster Communities; but our strong desire is that everyone in our church is part of one of these networks. We will be looking, next week, at how we create new groups; but if after next week you feel you may have been missed out, please contact me. We will use our church database to create new groups, but I am aware that there are some gaps within it. We hope that these pastoral care networks will be really effective in enabling us to support one another, both spiritually and practically.

We are aware that there will be both medical and economic fallout from the current situation; and that some of you have already been affected by this. If you are suffering, please don’t do so in silence. We are family, and long to support one another really well.

Stampwell Farm
As Frog mentioned in the letter from him and Amy, which went out earlier this week, Stampwell Farm is open for use by congregation members, as a space of recreation and prayer. If you do use the farm, please follow social distancing guidelines, and be aware that all buildings (including toilets) will be closed.

Further Communication
Talking of communication, please do keep an eye on your emails for future updates. It would also be wonderful if everyone could check that the Youtube Live link works for them, before Sunday. Additionally, if you are on Facebook, do join our Latimer Minster Facebook group.

If at any point in the coming weeks, you feel lonely, isolated or forgotten, please, please let us know. We will do our absolute utmost to establish good communication and strong pastoral networks, but we are aware that it is possible people may still fall through the cracks. Please let us know if you need help, of any kind. We are family, and we want to communicate with and care for you.

If for any reason you do not want to receive future updates or devotionals, please let us know by responding to this email. Otherwise, given the exceptional circumstances and our desire not to see people fall off the radar, we will take your stated desire to receive weekly emails, as consent to be sent these.

Opportunities in this season
This is a difficult time for our nation, and our world. Nevertheless, there are unique opportunities that this crisis gives for us to share the love of God with people all around us. We will make some suggestions in this regard soon; but in the meantime, you might like to think yourself about ways that you, perhaps in partnership with other local Minster members, might be able to do that.

This crisis also gives us a unique opportunity to explore new ways of being church. We hope and pray that we will learn things in this season that will continue to help us grow as disciples of Christ, even after the coronavirus has passed.

Final thoughts
The current situation we are facing is unprecedented, certainly within my lifetime. Nevertheless, God is still Sovereign; and He is still good. I trust that, even in the midst of the trial and suffering that may come, God will work for good, in accordance with His word.

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you in cyberspace!

With love and prayers,

Chris, Frog and all the team