ADVICE FOR CHURCHES FROM THE CIRCUIT pdf to download
A statement from the Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Conference:
“Methodists have missed being able to gather for worship in church buildings over the last two months and look forward to the resumption of public worship when it is safe for this to happen.
"The Church’s commitment to the pastoral care of its members and others has been at the forefront of our response and will continue to be. During the lockdown many congregations have shared in internet based services, usually broadcast from manses, following strict social distancing rules, and many people have continued to worship in their homes. Church communities have been creative in preparing worship materials and nationally we have a dedicated phone line for those who are not connected to the internet.
"The increased number of broadcast services on radio and television has helped to mitigate some of the sense of deprivation that people feel from a loss of fellowship. We would hope that those programmes continue to be scheduled as not all will be able to attend public worship even when all restrictions have been lifted.
"We recognise the paramount importance of the safety of members of the public and understand that any change to the current restrictions must be made with care.”
The Government is due to give an update on its lockdown guidance on Sunday May 10. We will consider any changes carefully and update our own guidance as necessary. The Secretary to the Conference will meet Ecumenical colleagues later this week and District Chairs and the Warden of the Diaconal Order on Monday May 11 and will discuss any possible changes with them. As usual, any updates will be shared on the Methodist Church website and on our social media channels.
The Methodist Church has announced the closure of all its church buildings for the foreseeable future. The only exception will be for churches that are offering essential social outreach such as foodbanks, soup kitchens and night shelters, but these must be carried out closely within Government guidelines. We would encourage people to use our online resources at home which include downloadable services and links to online worship services.
In terms of Church business, all meetings including church councils and circuit meetings should be cancelled. Districts chairs will be in touch about Synods. The next meeting of the Methodist Council has been suspended and work is in hand to make sure that essential business is carried out. We will be issuing further advice on this.
Other community activities
The Trussel Trust has also issued guidance on how churches can support volunteer supported charities.
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have produced a simple guide on how you can support foodbanks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Other community events like lunch clubs, after school clubs, playgroups and fellowship groups should be suspended.
Churches must only consider carrying out pastoral ‘visits’ by phone. Remember that many people are anxious and a reassuring phone call and an offer to pray might be very much appreciated.
If you’re a minister, consider what your plan might be if someone in your congregation is diagnosed with the virus.