Updated 17 March 15:00
It is with sadness that we recommend that worship services in Methodist Churches are suspended for the time being in line with Government guidance. We would encourage people who lead services to think about how worship might be offered in different ways, including online and using worship at home sheets.
During this incredibly difficult time when people might want to spend time in prayer in their Methodist Church. Local trustees should consider whether it is possible to open up their churches to enable people to come and pray or sit quietly, perhaps offering prayer stations as a point of reflection with precautions around physical distancing.
Suspending services means that we advise that baptisms will not take place in public worship and if you have a wedding planned in a Methodist Church you should speak to your minister. While funerals may still take place, we would advise that the number of people attending is limited as per the Government’s advice.
In terms of Church business, we recommend that all meetings including church councils and circuit meetings should be cancelled. Districts chairs will be in touch about Synods. The next meeting of the Methodist Council has been suspended and we will advise on how essential business will be carried out. We will be issuing further advice on this.
A message from Rev Graham Morgan, Superintendent Minister
God is our refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble Psalm 46:1
In the light of the current circumstances I am sure that you are wondering how we are responding to the situation. As a circuit we are awaiting information from the Methodist Connexional website which is guiding our responses and when this has been received we will respond to your queries as soon as possible (probably tomorrow).
As you might appreciate, we are being inundated with email’s and telephone calls seeking advice and guidance.
Having viewed the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubm2aLpmLwU&feature=youtu.be which I ask you to view, with a very heavy heart I am asking all churches to cancel their services this coming Sunday and also any other church meetings; coffee mornings etc for the foreseeable future.
Links will be sent out later in the week which I hope will help people to worship at home this coming Sunday and, once guidance has been received from the Methodist Church, guidance will be issued regarding what to do regarding services from 29th March onwards.
From Esther Painter Circuit Support Manager
Currently I can notify you of the following amendments to previous scheduled items below. Once our responses have been made if you would like to inform me of alterations for circulation around the circuit please feel free to send them to me for collation.
Tuesday 17th March 2020 at 7.30 pm at Pickering Methodist Church (Ryedale Circuit). District-led gathering to confer about the ‘God in Love Unites Us’ report. Cancelled
Christianity Explored Postponed
Circuit Meeting on March 24th cancelled
Westborough Café closed until further notice
Burniston Coffee Stop closed until further notice
CTIS Good Friday Walk of Witness on 10th April 2020 Cancelled
Holy Habits: Making More Disciples with Rev Andrew Roberts now cancelled.
Advice from the Methodist Church website:
Other community activities:
Pastoral visits: in these extraordinary times, pastoral support is incredibly important and it’s likely it may increase but we would advise that you contact people by phone in the first instance to check they are still happy for you to go in person. If you’re visiting a care home or hospital take your guidance from them. You should also be mindful of updated safeguarding guidance.
Churches may want to consider carrying out pastoral ‘visits’ by phone. In any case it may be worth calling the person you are due to visit to check they are comfortable with you being there. Now is a good time to be thinking proactively about who in the church might need extra help should they decide or be required to self-isolate. Is there the need to create a plan for shopping for more vulnerable members of the community for example?
If you have someone who is not able to join your services, please consider printing a service sheet and dropping it round to them for them to use at home or email them this link to live services.
Remember that many people are anxious and a reassuring phone call and an offer to pray might be very much appreciated.
Helping others People who rely on extra support to receive essential food and resources may find the next few months particularly challenging.
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have produced a simple guide on how you can support foodbanks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Worshipping at home Last week we provided a worship at home service sheet. We will endeavour to coordinate this for the coming weeks. A new section on the Singing the Faith plus website has been created to host these materials. See Worship during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are willing to draft a similar act of worship please email Gabriella Mahadeva email@example.com who will send you guidelines and allocate you a particular Sunday.
Our friends at Family Friendly Churches – are offering, free of charge, weekly prayers, address and a couple of hymns as videos (with words and music) for use within the home. These can be found at: www.ffctideas.org.uk/Corona.php
Safeguarding considerations Inevitably at this time churches are being encouraged to think about those who may be in greater need, isolated or unable to get out and about. Whilst working within government and health guidance about levels of contact and self-isolation we also want to remember standard safeguarding practice including:
For those receiving visits
For those undertaking visits and/ or keeping in contact with members and associates
The latest Government advice is here:
Remember that the Methodist Church is wider than Britain We are learning from our sisters and brothers around the world who are dealing with a difficult and uncertain situation and we would ask that you hold them in prayer, particularly those in affected areas.
Revd Paul Wood, Interim Director of the Ministries Team, said: “As we deal with the practicalities of protecting people from coronavirus we continue to remember Our Calling to care for the other whilst always being mindful that is that our call is always to respond to the good news in Jesus. We are a people of hope we need to declare and model good news in these difficult times.”
Head of Mission, Jude Levermore said: “Our Calling is to respond in love and service to the needs of our communities. The aim of this advice is to help us do this even while the extent of the issue is still unclear. We are grateful to our sisters and brothers around the world who hold us in prayer as we hold them. We should not be afraid “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
God of all hope we call on you today.
We pray for those who are living in fear:
Fear of illness, fear for loved ones, fear of other’s reactions to them.
May your Spirit give us a sense of calmness and peace.
We pray for your church in this time of uncertainty.
For those people who are worried about attending worship.
For those needing to make decisions in order to care for other
For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Grant us your wisdom.
Holy God, we remember that you have promised that
Nothing will separate us from your love – demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.
Help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you.
A message of thanks and support
Here at Methodist Church House we are working hard to support you all in Mission and Ministry to fulfil your calling. We wanted to say how grateful we are for the way you have responded to the challenges of these current times. We have seen so many of you going the extra mile in producing web based worship, in sharing resources, and in building one another up. This last Sunday we saw hundreds of examples across the Connexion of true connexionalism and we are so encouraged. This will be a marathon and not a sprint, we are committed to serving you as you serve the world, take care of yourselves and please feel free to make contact if we can offer more, or you spot gaps that you might have ideas on filling. Thank you.
Jude Levermore Head of Mission and Paul Wood Interim Director of the Ministries Team
Guidance on avoiding the spread of the virus on the NHS website
Full details of the coronavirus outbreak from Public Health England.
Download an NHS handwashing poster to print out (Pdf)
There is Government advice for travellers returning from various countries, including Italy. For latest guidance please click here.
If you have any questions regarding the Methodist Church and coronavirus, please email firstname.lastname@example.org