Posted in Letter
As we approach the 12th week of lock down I am sure many of you are asking the question ‘how long will this continue?’ And we all know that the answer is ‘as long as it takes’.
Unfortunately some people have forgotten why we are all taking these steps to self isolate and shield; or else think that it won’t affect them so they should be able to do what they want, regardless of the consequences. We see this in the scenes from the news reports of people crowding on the beaches during the recent hot weather and the questions from the media about when can people book their summer holidays (the implication being you can’t have a summer holiday in Britain, you really have to go abroad for that!)
But as the Government eases the lock down restrictions my prayers are that they aren’t moving too quickly, which could lead to another spike in cases. It means that more people are able to meet up outside for the first time in weeks, Graham caught up with his son and family earlier this week. This also means that if you would like us to visit you for a chat and prayer we would be happy to do so. But only if we can do so safely: not entering your house, but meeting in your garden or in a nearby park. And only if your level of shielding means that this is safe for you. Please give us a call if you would like to meet up.
It also seems likely that places of worship will be able to open in a couple of weeks for individual prayer. We have to wait for confirmation from the Government on this but we already have considered what steps we need to take to enable Emmaus to open once we have the go ahead. Watch this space!
On Monday Graham and I were working at Emmaus. Some of the render had broken off around the front door and we were concerned that more might fall. So Graham was up a ladder and I was ‘footing’ at the bottom. As the chisel was dislodging the loose render my mind turned to the scripture:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
its builders labour in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
It struck me as somewhat ironic that Graham was knocking chunks off the building.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us of the different seasons including the time to tear down and the time to build up.
We continue to seek God’s wisdom for the season for the Emmaus Christian Centre. Southern Synod wrote to us this week asking all churches to review their situations as we draw closer to the time when we may be able to meet again for some form of corporate worship. The letter included a multiple choice of each fellowship’s situation:
- A) The church can take up where it left off, have enough resources to cope with any financial cost it has taken and has the capacity to develop ministry and mission in new ways if needed.
- B) The church should be okay to resume operation but is concerned that several of its congregation will be unable to return to church and there is a question mark about its capacity to cope and its income stream.
- C) The church could resume if it is given extra support to manage its buildings and mission for the first couple of years. (if you can, please indicate what type of support you might require)
- D) The church is so weakened by the lockdown with all or most of its congregation in the vulnerable bracket and is not able to continue, so believes it will be necessary to close.
- E) The church is unable to make an assessment at the current time because…. (providing a reason will help us understand your current situation better).
As a leadership team we have reviewed these options. On the face of it it may seem that option D is where the Emmaus Christian Centre is but we all felt that the church needs to stay open. But we recognised that we need help to look again at what we are doing and how we can engage with the local community to build up a fellowship that will continue into this new decade and beyond. As we do that some things will need to change (a time to die) and for many of us this could be a challenge and a sense of loss as the style of worship we hold dear may not be relevant for the new people we hope to reach from our town centre.
Graham and I will be writing to Southern Synod with our thoughts about why we consider that we are option C and ask to discuss with them what help we feel we need and what help they are able to offer us. Please continue to pray for wisdom and guidance as we seek the Lord’s plans for the Emmaus Christian Centre; that we can continue to offer a place of prayer, worship and witness that is in keeping with God’s Kingdom building plans for Chatham Town Centre in the 21st century.
We need to recognise that things will not return to the ‘normal’ that we used to know but when we do emerge from the coronavirus pandemic (whenever that may be) our world will have changed and we will need to adapt to a ‘new normal’. There is a beautiful song on the internet based on the Aaronic blessing, see below.
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
Graham and Katy Hill, Local Church Leaders