Bishop Ruth and the three archdeacons have written to all parishes in the diocese to share guidance following the announcement of the new national lockdown.
Though public worship has not been suspended by the government, the letter urges parishes to take worship online where possible and also to remain at home as much as possible.
Individual parishes should do what works best in their community, they say.
“We want to assure you of our support to do whatever is best in your context. Worship is not being banned, private prayer, funerals and, in exceptional cases, weddings can continue in accordance with government restrictions. However please be wise in making the most sensible choice for both you and your communities.
“We would like to commend that you take worship online where possible. The Government recommends us to work from home if able to do so, and only essential travel is allowable. For the immediate future all licensing services will now be by Zoom. It is safer and responsible therefore to remain at home if we can, not only for our own safety but also in order that the disease does not continue to transmit at the rate it currently is. This does not mean you are unable to enter your churches or livestream if that is your desire but please think carefully about both yourself and the message you are sharing with others.”
They thank clergy and congregations for the ways in which people have lived out their faith through the service of others during the pandemic, and urged people to continue to look ahead with “hope and expectancy”.
“This new year will be full of challenge as we continue to fight the virus. Vaccines are being delivered but we have more hills yet to climb. As we begin a new year, we would like to send our love and gratitude to you for all you have given over this past year, in serving your community, and in faithfully living out the story of God’s love. We look with hope and expectancy for God’s presence to be evident amongst us for 2021 and we trust Him to provide all we need for what is to come.”
The full letter is available to download below.