Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Churches
The guidance from the Church of England can be found on their Coronavirus website page. This is mainly aimed at people who are involved in running churches, however, you may find some of the information useful.
Alternatively, the official government advice can be found here. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
And the NHS advice is here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Please note that advice is changing daily (if not more often) so be sure to check these sites regularly if you need information.
In the meantime, if you would like to know how all of this may impact on St James, read the letter below from Vicar Ian:
St. James the Great, Blendon:
In his Gospel Mark tells the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat, part of a small flotilla, when suddenly huge storm came upon them nearly swamping the boat. The disciples are terrified and woke Jesus up. Jesus caused the storm to stop then asked them “Why are you so afraid. Do you still have no faith?” I am sure that Jesus completely understood why they were afraid but his challenge to them, having experienced his ministry to date, should challenge us too.
We are all in the midst of a storm at present. It is something very new and it is a bit scary. Something that appeared from nowhere on the other side of the world has grown into a significant global pandemic. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed, fearful, anxious – even terrified. And those things we feel are normal, they make sense. It’s a scary prospect, being isolated or even getting ill. The thing to remember is that Jesus is here, he’s with us amid the danger and chaos. We have a loving Father who calls us to trust in him, to have faith in his presence with us, his Holy Spirit filling us. This doesn’t make us bulletproof. It doesn’t mean we don’t follow the advice or take sensible precautions but that we do so with a hope and knowledge in a God bigger than Coronavirus!
On 12th March the Government officially declared the move from the ‘Contain’ phase to the ‘Delay’ phase of the response to Covid-19 which is designed to slow the inevitable spread of the virus across the country. There are currently (as of 27th March, but be aware this will change daily) 77 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bexley but no one really seems to know how widespread the virus is with estimates of actual infection well above officially recorded figures.
I have attempted to summarise some of the official guidance we have received and the impact it will have for life at St James.
I will be in regular contact with the wardens and PCC as well as ministry and group leaders to ensure we follow the advice from the NHS, Public Health England and the Church of England who are updating their website on an almost daily basis.
The primary piece of advice relating to this outbreak is to maintain good hygiene practices primarily the washing of hands with warm water and soap on a regular basis – or if not possible, using alcohol hand gel.
Carry tissues with you and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Newly updated advice is to stay home unless you are identified by the government as a key worker. If you show symptoms of the virus, you should isolate yourself from the rest of your family and make sure you do not share towels, utensils etc
It is suggested that we clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environments, ensuring the virus isn’t passed through objects.
The government have asked people not to go out (including using public transport) unless you are going to work (as a key worker), doing essential shopping (supermarket or chemist), accessing medical help or for exercise in your immediate locality (once a day)If you do have to go out, you should maintain a distance of 2m between yourself and anyone else.
Also, there should be no groups congregating that are larger than 2 of people who are not in the same household.
Life at St James
There is one huge area of Church life that is going to be affected by the outbreak of Coronavirus and this is the advice at the current time.
1 The church building is now SHUT. This means that no services, group meetings etc can take place there. It is important to remember that, although the building is shut, the church is made up of you - the people. This is an opportunity to show people Jesus in the way we react to these restrictions on our lives. So, we make sure we follow the new rules; we check up on each other (by phone/text/email etc); we check up on the vulnerable people who live near us (even if they are not members of our congregation!) and we offer practical help where this is safe.
2. We are using the website and Church Facebook page to allow people to remain involved – livestreaming online (when we can work out the technology!), sermon recording etc. The main source of links, information etc will be the website.
Above all, remember Jesus is Lord. God our creator is with us, he cares for us and he is bigger than Coronavirus!