There will be no services until further notice, but please read the section below in how we can still worship together.
ii. National Day of Prayer and Action – Mothering Sunday
Bishop Mike and I have joined other Church leaders in encouraging all Christians to take part in a National Day of Prayer and Action about the coronavirus this Sunday.
You are encouraged to pray for all leaders at this time, making decisions about the containment of the virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
At 7pm this Sunday, please light a candle in a window of your home as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
iii. Cancelling Public Worship – what does it mean
There has been a good deal of clarification on what is possible now. I find it helpful to think of ourselves shifting from being a worshipping church to being a praying church, now that there will be no acts of public worship. This is categoric, and is entirely to inhibit the spread of the disease. So we need to see ourselves as working hard to inhibit the spread while maintaining a life of prayer, largely by people in their own homes, with a thread of daily prayer provided in churches.
iv. Daily Prayer and Eucharist
There has been some confusion as to what forms of worship can continue in our churches. I want to reinforce the clear message from the Archbishops that all public acts of worship are suspended and must not continue.
If it has been your pattern, as clergy, lay ministers or church wardens, to say daily prayer in church, this can continue but it must be done behind closed doors and either alone or with members of the ministry team. You should think through this carefully, and limit each occasion to a very small number (I am advising no more than three, and probably just two), diligently following the guidelines on hygiene as set out on the website about social distancing, using hand sanitiser etc. The restriction on numbers is to avoid a whole ministry team being out of action when one member contracts the virus forcing the rest of the group into isolation. We only need the minimum you need to maintain a thread of prayer in our churches – this is about praying for the world, not for the benefit of the participants.
If it has been your practice to hold a regular eucharist, again, this can continue behind closed doors and must not be a public act of worship. In addition to observing the guidelines on hygiene, only the priest and one other person, to make the responses, should be present. Only the priest should receive communion to avoid transmitting any form of infection. If you have more than one priest in the benefice then make a rota so that only one is present, so that again the potential spread of the infection is limited. This represents a shift in instruction from last week when the guidance allowed congregants to receive the bread.
In a multi-parish benefice I would simply have one eucharist, with a priest and one other in the way described above, in one church each week.
There can be no home communions, communion by extension or other forms of communion in homes. We all need to learn the practice of spiritual communion, and guidance about this ancient practice for such times as these is to be found HERE. The limited occasions for the eucharist to be celebrated across the diocese will be on behalf of all of us, for the sake of the healing of the world.
v. Outside worship
Some people have asked whether the suspension of public worship in our church buildings also includes acts of worship organised outside. It does. In order to slow the progress of the coronavirus and to enable our health service to deal with the massively increased demand it is facing, we all need to take responsibility for keeping to the letter as well as the spirit of our guidelines. There can be no outside acts of worship.
vi. Chrism Eucharist and forthcoming diocesan services
In the circumstances, we have no alternative but to postpone all diocesan services due to take place at the Cathedral for the foreseeable future. This includes the Chrism Eucharist. We are working on ways to Livestream some form of prayer and opportunity to renew ordination vows and licensed lay ministers’ promises, and I am working with the cathedral on ways to make this happen. We will let you know the plans for ordinations in due course, when we have consulted nationally.
vii. Streaming Services and Messages
Some of you have already found ways of live streaming your worship. If you have a smart phone, the technology is not so difficult to master. However, there is information about churches that live stream their worship on the Church of England website, and where cathedrals or parish churches are live streaming morning and evening prayer every day, please let your parishes know this is available and do add live streamed services to www.AChurchNearYou.com.
Morning Prayer will continue to be live streamed from the Bishops’ Oratory at 8:30am, Monday – Saturday, following Common Worship Daily Prayer. We now have around 50 people regularly joining us online each morning.
Bishop Mike and I will continue to produce a weekly vlog and offer more online content to provide some spiritual nourishment and human contact in these unusual times.
Evening prayer and a Sunday Eucharist will continue to be live streamed form the Cathedral. Please go to the Diocesan website for links and service times. This can be found HERE.
St Mary at Stoke Church (IP2 8DA)
- 8am Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer)
- 10am Parish Eucharist
- Wednesday 9am Holy Communion A simple service of Holy Communion using Common Worship Order 1.We meet in the Choir Vestry, through the door at the north side of the church
- Friday 3.30-5pm (2nd Friday of each Month) Messy Church: Fun, games, worship and food for primary school children and their parents
St Peters Church (IP2 9TH)
- 10am The worship at St Peters alternates between Holy Communion (weeks 2 & 4 each Month) and non-Eucharistic family worship (week 1) or Praise (week 3)
- Monday 7.30pm Prayer meeting (every first Monday)
- Thursday 10am Morning Prayer
St Francis Church (IP2 0QQ)
- 10am Parish Eucharist with Junior Church. The Parish Eucharist at St Francis is modern catholic in style, vestments are worn, but the service is friendly and relaxed. We welcome all.
- Wednesday –Friday 8.30am Morning Prayer
- Thursday 9.30am Holy Communion: A simple service of Holy Communion using Common Worship Order 1, often with a short address by the Priest. We meet in the Holy Cross Chapel