All parish groups should suspend their meetings

20 March – Number 2

Dear colleagues,

  • All parish groups should suspend their meetings until further notice unless they are meeting solely by virtual technology

There are some simple messages we are hearing from government. The best response to beating the Coronavirus is for people to engage in personal/social distancing.

Any group that is being organised through a parish is likely to meet the test of a public event. Organisers of a non-essential public event must allow 4 square metres per person as well as provide hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal.

But these arrangements are focussed on the general population. Many of our activities including bible study groups, lent groups, growth groups and the like involve people who would be identified as at greater risk of becoming severely ill and dying.

It is my desire that we can be together for prayer, teaching, care and fellowship as soon as possible. I share the grief at not being able to do this.

In order that we can express our love for our neighbour who is a congregation member or a member of the community, all parish groups should suspend their meetings with immediate effect, if they havent already done so and until further notice.

I encourage parish clergy to attend a church in the parish each day and say prayers for their people and parish. This morning the bishops and cathedral clergy prepared some services for streaming. We were able to follow this morning’s social distancing rules given the enormous space but next week we imagine changing this further.

Each ministry day there is an opportunity to message and call parishioners. It is often very powerful to pray over the phone with someone.

I’ve got some of the books out that I’ve been longing to read – I imagine sharing a few bits on Facebook. I’m getting used to virtual meetings, with the right camera angle, because we’ve got Diocesan Council and some other groups meeting that way this coming week.

+Peter