It’s been another day of decision making as I have been reflecting with the senior team and the wider staff team how to respond to the announcement last night about the current lockdown.

As of 12pm tonight it is unlawful for us to leave our homes except where we have a reasonable excuse. The goal of this severe restriction on our movements is to limit our contact with others and thus to reduce the number of people who catch and pass on the virus. Today’s continued increase in infections and mortalities reinforces the seriousness of the situation. We pray for all those involved in every level of government, our health services acting our behalf, and all those grieving at this time.

Whilst the government has given permission for people to meet for worship (albeit with restrictions), it is my conviction, having reviewed all our processes and procedures, that we should keep each other as safe as possible at this time, and in anticipation of the arrival of a vaccine, play our part in minimising the potential for spreading the virus and putting further risk to life and strain on our health service.

To this end, from tonight, and unless there is a significant change in circumstances, the Church and Church Centre will be closed until the end of half-term. While funerals will continue to take place with limited numbers, our Sunday worship will now be online only. Until things change, because of the virulence of new variant, we will also not be holding a weekly communion service in church or opening the building for private prayer.

Once again, I will be exploring with the whole team how to make the best of this challenging situation.  As has already been our practice, all staff will be working from home where possible.  I am so grateful for the way that everyone has been working together through it all.

Over the next two months, as a Church family, we will once again need to find practical and supportive ways to support each other. We have already learned so much about this and we are mindful of the most vulnerable and isolated among us. We continue to want to support our local foodbanks and encourage everyone to contribute in some way to their work. The foodbank drop-off this Saturday, in the church centre carpark, will continue to take place safely.

With the news of the vaccine being rolled out so widely, for which we can be so grateful, it seems that, despite the news this week, we are not far away from the final stages of this pandemic. It’s been a hard road, but we will get there. As we start the new year together, we are focusing our attention on the God who has been faithful to his covenant promises. We are grateful for the new life that has come from Alpha and look forward to seeing growth through a new course again this term, a new Prayer Course which Ian Nott is heading up, and the new life groups and post-alpha groups starting up again this week and next.

May God bless us as we continue to seek him together even though prevented from meeting in person.