I have just sent the following email to staff and circuit stewards in my circuit:
“I wanted to make sure that you were all aware of the latest guidance from the Connexion regarding Covid-19- the corona virus, this will continue to be updated:
I know that some people are saying we need to act sooner rather than later, especially with gatherings of the very young and the elderly, and other vulnerable groups, and would welcome your thought on that, I know a number of Methodist Churches and Circuits around the country are closing certain activities, many are looking at this article which while it has a scaremongering title actually gives a lot of sensible information:
I would also like to share with you the thinking from the churches in Singapore who took some decisive actions and would welcome your thoughts;
As a people of prayer and faith might we follow the lead of the free church in Singapore who called its people to prayer at 19:00hrs every day, in a prayer action called 19 at 19?
I pray that we will respond in the right way for our people, our communities, the city and beyond.”
So far I have had conversations with my pastoral volunteers about making “visits” by phone, with those who run the tea and coffee rotas about having wrapped biscuits, have cancelled a buffet, we are making hand gel available, but emphasising that good old fashioned soap and water are better.
As for those who have come back and asked what Jesus would do, suggesting that he would not encourage self isolation, and even suggesting that taking a common chalice is a sign of faith because “God will protect us” I suggest that the opposite might be the case, to love our neighbours as we love ourselves in this means not shaking hands or hugging, it means taking sensible precautions, we can call, text and message one another. To care for the vulnerable and elderly might mean making sure that they have shopping, food etc, but not spending time with them as we might like, again telephones are available to most!
We discussed about food bank provision at our Church Council on Tuesday and decided to make up extra bags of cans, pasta, rice, tea, coffee biscuits etc, but to cancel our usual practice of sharing a cuppa and stopping to chat as much as possible. We have also added liquid soap to our bags to add to the usual shower gel, toothpaste etc.
While some of this may seem unloving, it isn’t unloving and it won’t last forever, by acting sanely we might just save a life, or 2 or 3! When I needed a neighbour were you there? Yes, but perhaps in a different way!