I’ve just uploaded a livestream of this onto our church Facebook page here, but if you prefer to read than listen, the text is as follows. Please note that this is all subject to change: some items have been updated since I sent the original email to the congregation last night, and others will change by the end of today…
Many of you will have already seen from the news on Tuesday that the Church of England has taken the decision to cancel all public worship services. They have taken this decision on the best advice available and we feel it is entirely right that we should follow suit. Therefore, from this Sunday, until further notice, there will be no services at Newport or Bishop’s Tawton on Sunday mornings or evenings, alongside our cancellation of other midweek events and all hall activities.
We are able to open the church for prayer and to encourage each other in many other ways but won’t be doing this at the normal service times or allowing many people into the church at one time. We’d like to suggest that you might spend the time reading your Bible, listening to music and praying when you’d usually be in church. If the weather is good, try going for a prayer walk or planting some bulbs or seeds as a sign of hope for the future. For families, we recommend the Superbooks website for some great children’s Bible resources.
Bishop’s Tawton Church will be open as usual during the day, and Newport Church will be open for personal prayer at the following times:
Those coming to use the churches for prayer are asked to keep 2m from each other and to wash your hands regularly (and carefully). If there’s a need to open one of the churches in the evening, please get in touch. We will be praying for our communities in the churches through the week.
This particular Sunday, Bishop Jackie is recording a Mothering Sunday message which we encourage you to listen to on the Diocese of Exeter website (available from 9am), while Archbishop Justin is recording a service for BBC Radio 4 and Radio Devon at 8.10am. For the early risers Ruth Valerio is giving a reflection on Radio 4 at 6.05am. We’re also joining a national initiative to pray at 7pm in our homes- light a candle in your window as a sign of Christ’s presence in our communities- for more details see here
In the Archbishops’ letter they encourage us to consider how we can still be the church, and ‘do church differently’ at this time. While we may not be able to gather together for worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship in the same way as normal, it is important that we still maintain a rhythm of those things in our lives. We’ll be thinking about how we can do this creatively and sharing ideas over the coming days and weeks.
Alongside this, at this time we must look to our neighbours with compassionate hearts and look at what we can do for them- whether praying for them, getting some shopping or just phoning for a chat, we can all do something. If you would like to offer support for our local community, or you, or someone you know is in need at this time, please get in touch with Cathy who’s bringing this together for us.
We have a church Facebook page, which we encourage you to use to stay in touch and up to date, and to post any prayer requests, if you’re able to access it, and we’ll put links to online resources there and on the church website. If you’re aware of other church members who don’t have access to the internet, please pass this information on to them and keep in touch.
These are strange times, but as we were reminded on Sunday morning ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1.5).
Every blessing, let’s keep in touch,
Andy, Cathy, Dave, Jo, Marilyn and Sandra, on behalf of the PCC’s.
If you want email addresses for other members of the team or my phone number, please get in touch via my email in the first instance