Fitzroy’s Session and Staff have been giving a lot of thought and prayer to how we best respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic. We have set up a small group to help us respond to an ever changing situation.
We are considering the immediate response and are putting together an imaginative plan for worship and pastoral care going forward.
We are prayerfully considering how to make decisions between the writer of the Hebrews call for believers to not stop meeting together and Jesus call to love our neighbours. It is likely that we will have to make a call that sacrifices our gathering together in order to responsibly protect the vulnerable among us.
Let us remember that even if we feel we are strong enough to get through the virus that we should be determined not to carry the virus to those who might be vulnerable.
This Sunday morning’s service (15 March 2020) WILL take place as usual at 11am BUT Sunday evening is cancelled.
The morning service will be a shorter service.
Children and youth will go to Sunday school and Bible Classes from the beginning.
There will be NO order of service
There will be NO offering plates
There will be NO tea and coffee after the service.
There will be NO prayer ministry after the service
Stewards will open doors and we will try to have doors ajar to save us having to touch door handles.
Please keep your distance and resist the normal practices of hugging and shaking hands..
We encourage anyone with any cough or fever symptoms to stay at home. Please check latest government advice at https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/pha-advice-new-coronavirus-guidance and remember to wash hands regularly.
If anyone is feeling in the category of being vulnerable please do no feel that you have to come to Church. This is a time to be safe rather than dutiful.
If anyone would be returning, after the service, to people who might be vulnerable we ask you to again be sensible.
Going forward, all extra Fitzroy events are cancelled for the foreseeable future and we will reassess Sunday services and our youth work as the days unfold.
If we cannot gather together we will have other options for communal activities.
We want to assure everyone that in a situation that might cause us to not be able to gather or even cause some of us to have to isolate that we will be doing our best to make sure that everyone feels connected. Isolation MUST NOT mean alienated, forgotten or lonely.
This is a time for grace and imagination. As well as a crisis it is an opportunity to follow Jesus in loving our neighbour. Members of our Fitzroy community will need words of encouragement and practical help. There will also be demand for volunteers across our neighbourhoods. Let us be on the front foot and ready to respond to the needs of family, neighbours and even strangers.
I am drawn to that favourite pastoral reading of mine from Hebrews 4: 14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The Bible is mostly written in tough and dangerous times. God is not out in space somewhere with no understanding. God came to live among us in Jesus. He can empathise with our humanity. He invites us to approach a God who understands and offers us mercy and grace in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.
Let us be in prayer for one another, the wider community and indeed a frightened world.
Grace and imagination,