Update 14th January 2021
Since the start of Lockdown 3 we made the initial decision to stop in-person public worship to give the PCC time to review the situation and advice as it emerged. We've been watching the number of Covid cases rise steadily in Leeds. We know there is pressure on our cities resources: schools, hospitals and local government; not to mention the impact economically on local businesses and organisations. We received a letter from Public Health Leeds asking us to be considered in our actions and decisions, including inviting us to consider stopping public worship. Along with this, we have received further government and Church of England guidelines which further restricted what was possible in public worship should it resume.
The PCC met last night and we've unanimously taken the decision to stop 'in person' Sunday gatherings with the view to review this decision at the end of half term. This will mean that there will be no 'in-person' Sunday services up to and including Sunday 21st February, at which point we will review the situation. In doing this, we're not wanting to be motivated by fear but to love and serve the community of which we are a part - the best way to do this seems to be to ensure this lockdown is as short as possible by minimising opportunities for transmission. We want to see this community prosper once again; to be in a position to help and serve a recovery from hardship, loneliness and isolation that many are feeling. It is from a place of love that we want to give up the right to physically gather.
There's much debate online about whether churches should remain open or closed. I don't care to enter into that. We have made a decision for us, having heard a variety of voices within the church and listened to wider advice and guidance. I hope we all understand that church isn't just an hour on a Sunday morning in a particular place. For now, we can still meet online and are looking at ways of better including those that are not able to do that so they are able to worship with others. We can still maintain some connection; checking on neighbours and friends by phone, messages, email and video calls. I'm convinced the Holy Spirit will bring about opportunities to witness to Jesus' grace and hope in our lives and to our community.
So, let's grieve this situation and draw near to God in prayer but also seize this opportunity to be creative in how we connect with others, serve our community and see our lives shaped by Jesus. We are putting together some ways of going about this and have some ideas, but would happily listen to others. We will have more on this and how to get involved in the coming days.
Grace and Peace,
Mark, Barbara and Nick (Church Wardens), and the PCC