Living a Life of Faith, Energised by Love
18th March 2020
To the St Chad’s Family and Community
“We must distinguish between a healthy fear - the beginning of wisdom, which prompts us to follow advice, and to care for those at risk - and unhealthy fear which… [leads to] doing harm to ourselves and others.”
These words are taken from an article published in the Daily Mail and the Yorkshire Post yesterday by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury. Furthermore, yesterday the Archbishops issued clear but challenging guidance for the Church of England, which was followed up by communication from Bishop Pete. We will have to do things differently as St Chad’s, and much of this will mean that we will not physically gather together for some weeks. This letter is not intended to address everything all at once, and things are likely to change and develop, but this is the present situation.
Services and Events
Public worship in the Church of England is to be suspended. Our regular three weekly services (Thursday 10am, Sunday 9am and Sunday 11am) are stopping with immediate effect. The following activities and events are also to cease until further notice:
St Paul encourages the Thessalonians to pray continuously. Whatever things we are prevented from doing, prayer is not one of them. The clergy, and lay ministers when available, will continue to pray for the parish each day at 9am. From Monday next week we will be recording morning prayer with a short devotion as a daily podcast uploaded onto the St Chad’s website. We hope that members of St Chad’s will be able to pray along with us from your homes. Although we are separated it remains true that we are one in Christ and our solidarity in prayer is one way of expressing this. You can find morning prayer in the “Daily Prayer: from the CofE” app on mobile phones, or on the following website: https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer
The church building will be kept open during the day from Monday to Thursday from 9.30am until 4pm and can be used for private prayer. Of course, social distancing and good hygiene will be necessary, and signs will be posted to aid with this.
If you share a house with others, please do pray with them. Pray for peace, pray for wellbeing, pray for wisdom. Pray for friends, pray for family, pray for St Chad’s. Pray for Woodseats, pray for Sheffield, pray for the UK, pray for the world. Pray for schools, pray for businesses, pray for the NHS. Pray for church leaders, pray for the government, pray for the World Health Organisation. A selection of prayers specifically written about coronavirus can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources
The Archbishops and other church leaders have called for Sunday 22nd March to be a National Day of Prayer and Action. We are all invited to place a candle at 7pm in a window as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ, which can never be extinguished. St Chad’s will be open from 9am until 4pm. You can come to the church building to pray, or you can pray at home, or out on a walk. It has been suggested that as St Chad’s we can try and cover the whole 24-hour period with prayer. Perhaps you might like to choose a half hour or whole hour slot to focus on prayer. You may want to consider prayer walking around the parish.
This is a time when St Chad’s Church can truly share the love of Christ with those around us in practical ways. Please take responsibility for caring for those immediately around you: those on your road, or within your networks.
On Bromwich Road a WhatsApp group has already been set up so that people can support each other. This was simply a flyer drop along the road with a mobile phone number included so that contact could be initiated. What could you do along your road? If you would like something printed for you to post through people’s doors, then please contact the church office. You can find on this email a form that can be used to offer assistance to neighbours.
Even if you are not able to leave the house you can still show love to others by calling a friend, family member, or someone who might be lonely, and having a conversation with them. And of course, you can always pray, no matter your situation.
Currently Grace Foodbank is well stocked, but if you would like to drop off food please do this at Sainsbury’s rather than St Chad’s. Foodbanks are still distributing food but many of the volunteers are over 70 and will be self-isolating, so younger volunteers are required at this time.
Keeping in touch
Each of us will be in a different situation as we read this letter. Perhaps you are reading this at home in self-isolation. Perhaps you are at your place of work, or maybe your home is now your place of work. Perhaps you are out on a walk getting some fresh air. Perhaps you are just sitting down after putting the children to bed.
Over the coming weeks we will be using emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, the church website, letters and phone calls to keep in touch. If you would like any help with setting up Facebook or WhatsApp, then please let the office know. If you need to self-isolate then please do let someone know.
Wherever you are, know that we are united by Christ and that this bond is incredibly strong.
Taking Care of yourself
The next few weeks are going to be incredibly challenging for every one of us. Please take seriously the government guidelines on social distancing and protecting older people and vulnerable adults https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults and please don’t take unnecessary risks with your own health. Please also watch out for your mental health and wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to people if you feel anxious. Remember that the Church of Jesus Christ has been through much worse crises than this one, and God remains with his people through all adversities. Cast your anxieties upon him, because he cares for you.
Finally, some verses to ponder on and be encouraged by:
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”
From the St Chad’s Staff Team