Updates from David Whitehouse
19th March 2020
Last night we received further clarification from our Bishops on implementing the Archbishops' encouragement to keep our church buildings open for private prayer. They have now said clearly that to avoid public gatherings, times at which the building is open 'should not be advertised'.
In order to comply with this guidance the church building will now NOT BE OPEN between 2.00-4.00pm on Sunday 22nd March.
We do however want to respond wholeheartedly to the Archbishop's call for a national day of prayer and would encourage you to make time during those two hours to join with Christians from around the country to pray for God's mercy, compassion and glory to be seen in midst of this season.
18th March 2020
I am writing to tell you of some changes that we are having to make in the way we live and worship together as a church family in the light of the most recent information from the government. Today our Archbishops have informed us that we are having to cease all public meetings and acts of worship. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we are, for the time being, suspending all our group meetings and Sunday services.
This however does not mean for one moment that we are ceasing to be church. We are simply going to have to find new ways to worship together, to pray with one another, to care for those in need, to build up our faith, and to make Jesus known. Let me tell you a few of the key things that we are putting together to help us do that:
: Though we will not be gathering in the church building, we are planning to broadcast a service online at 10.30am each Sunday morning. We hope that as many people and families will be able to join us online at that time so that we can share in that moment. We will be posting details in due course about how you can do that.
Our Archbishops have encouraged us to keep our buildings open for private prayer and have called for a national day of prayer this Sunday. We will therefore be making St Andrew’s available on Sunday (22nd) from 2.00-4.00pm and if you are able to safely be there in person, or otherwise join us from your own home, then we hope you will make this time a priority to pray with us for our nation and our local community in Leyland.
Caring for all:
St Andrew’s is blessed with a wonderful network of groups for all ages and we are asking all group leaders to be setting up appropriate means to help your group members keep in touch with one another and particularly those within your group who are vulnerable or are having to isolate themselves from others. Through our Pastoral Teams and group leaders we will be in touch shortly with a series of resources that we hope will help us care for one another.
Encouraging faith in Jesus:
One of the ways that we care is to help one another keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. In these next weeks we are going to be continuing to preach through the last few chapters of Luke’s gospel and we are going to accompany that by making available a short book of daily readings called ‘To seek and to save’ that will help us to keep reading God’s word together even when it is difficult for us to meet.
There will be lots more news in due course and we will be doing our best to keep the office open so that there is someone on the end of a phone to answer questions and pass on information. We will also be regularly updating our website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed so do make sure that you connect in with those to get the latest news.
I close with the words of the Bishop of Blackburn as he wrote to all the clergy today,
‘The God we meet in worship is always faithful. Worship is the heart and centre of our lives for there we meet and offer our lives to God who always keep his promises and who, even in the valley of the shadow of death, walks at our side.’
Easter reminds us that we have a message of life and hope to proclaim in the darkest of days. Duncan and Matt join me in assuring you of our love and asking that you join us in praying that this year will continue to be a year when as a church we make known the Good News of Jesus. This may not be how we planned to mark our 800th anniversary but that milestone should remind us of the steadfast love of God who has been faithful in every generation. Let’s work together to find new ways to make that love and faithfulness known in this season where so many people need to be assured of it.
Your vicar and friend,