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Pastoral Letter 31st July 2020 from Rev’d David Dear Brothers, Sisters and Friends.

I write to you on the final day of July, we began these letters on the first week of lockdown and (bar one week) I have written to you each week since, making this my 19th Letter to you during this lockdown situation. It seemed for a moment that these letters might come to a close soon, as we began the movement back towards socially distanced meetings, alas that might not be so easily the case, as it seems more and more likely that local lockdowns and risk mitigation will cause us to need to think hard about how we meet in the weeks and months to come.

Last week I shared with you the decisions of the church regarding the congregation you are a member of, needless to say word will have begun to spread in church communities as to the current situation, but below is an outline of decisions of the meetings at The Hurst and Helsby church councils, Blakelees will be holding a council meeting in early September to consider the situation for them then:

The Hurst) The Council chose not to open the building for worship or private prayer at this time, further development and work will be undertaken in the coming weeks in preparation for another Council meeting in early September to consider again the situation. The peace garden has been opened for private prayer, with the necessary social distancing measures required. The Council made no decision toward the use of the church building for funerals, as more work was needed on risk assessment and the meeting did not express this as a current priority. The Council agreed to the Church Mission Policy C.2005 being redrafted and considered the primary focus for decision making in the weeks and months ahead.

Helsby) The Council agreed to open the building for the recording and streaming of services with immediate effect, the council also gave agreement for the public to be present at streamed services from the 6th September, however this will be subject to experiences in preparation and a later date might well be required due to safety etc. the Council agreed that with immediate effect, the church building might be used for private funeral services. These decisions will be reflected upon and reviewed at the September meeting of the Council.

After my comment in last weeks pastoral letter in which I reflected on the need for us to consider again the nature of what worship might look like when and if we return to our buildings, I have received a number of letters, emails and phone calls, messages of consideration and concern for the future. Thank you to all who have been in touch, for the thoughtfulness expressed and the way in which members have heard not just the need to reflect on when it would be best to return to worshiping in our buildings, but also on what that worship might be able to look like and how we feed people in the present age.

At the same time as we cautiously consider the situation of reopening and look to the mission God places ahead of us, we must remain vigilant of the situation of lockdown and social distancing. In areas surrounding Chester and West Cheshire COVID-19 cases are on a rise, with Greater Manchester now in local lockdown, Wrexham seeing a spike in cases and Cheshire East still having over 2000 cases at this time. With the improving weather and the frustrations of having been in this situation since March, it is too easy for us to let COVID19 infection rates once again increase, I please ask that you hold carefully and closely to the current guidance as best as you can. I remind members that they shouldn’t be entering church buildings without expressed consent to do so, Im aware of a few situations recently where this has occurred within our churches and in the wider Circuit. Needless to say, we are being encouraged to remind members that the building is closed at this time and there is no need to enter for any reason other than those agreed with myself. I’m aware that a number of you have been meeting in private gardens and supporting one another in this way, while this is within the current guidance, can I remind members to keep social distance and most importantly not to decide to meet as a group larger than 2 households in a space on behalf of the church without first undertaking a risk assessment approved by the RA team for each council. I am sorry to seem dogmatic here, but we have had a number of incidents this week with members in the Circuit failing to follow current guidance and we must be clear in continuing to reduce the capacity for this virus to replicate.

As this week has unfolded with the aspects of concern and the nature of continued vigilance being called for, words of Paul have continued to come to me. Those words of Paul spoken about the affliction he finds himself within as he goes about the ministry God has called him to are pertinent to all of us, I feel, at this time. Paul writes to the Corinthian church, that they are perplexed, hard pressed, feel persecuted and struck down, yet in all of these things, Jesus is present with them and his life and presence shine, even in the difficulty they see. As a church, we are called to continue the mission ahead of us, to reflect on the way in which God is shifting us at

this time, yet it can feel that we need to move quicker, only to have the brakes thrown upon us again. In all of this, I pray, that we might find strength in the one who will never abandon us, hope in the one who breathes life into death and offers light into the darkness. The road ahead might be long, and we may find the journey painful, yet in this exodus, might we look for the God who still and forever goes before us and know His Grace as the power needed to take the next step and the one after that.

As always, if you want to talk, about anything, please send me an email, WhatsApp, Facebook message, text or even phone the manse, it is always good to talk.

With every blessing David

Prayer Meeting: Friday 9:30am

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