It is with a heavy heart that I have to let you know that the Archbishops have written to clergy to say that the Church of England is suspending all acts of public worship until further notice.
“As the challenge of the coronavirus grips the world, and as the Government asks every individual and every organisation to rethink its life, we are now asking the Church of England in all its parishes, chaplaincies and ministries to serve all people in a new way. Public worship will have to stop for a season. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold. But this does not mean that the Church of England has shut up shop. Far from it.”
At St Leonard’s we are absolutely committed to ensuring everyone in our community is protected as far as possible and so we will be following this instruction until further notice.
It is an unprecedented action but comes after serious reflection on the current information available about the Covid 19 virus and the implications for those who become infected who are older or have underlying health conditions.
Their letter goes on to encourage us to continue in prayer and where possible to offer online resources to people. We realise that at St Leonard’s there are many for whom this will be a devastating blow as our Services are a source of invaluable human contact as well as a spiritual lifeline.
Please be assured that you are being held in prayer and we ask you to also pray for our community especially those who are lonely and anxious. We would also encourage you to pick up the phone to one another or pop a card in the post, so that we continue to enjoy one another’s company despite the inevitable distance this new situation creates.
How are we responding at St Leonard’s?
- The members of our Clergy team who were due to preach on Sundays shall circulate a ‘thought’ from the Gospel reading via the website and our email group along with a prayer you can use in your devotions.
- On Saturday we shall make up posies as we would have done for Mothering Sunday. They will be available on Sunday morning at St Leonard’s outside the main doors for collection. It would be lovely to deliver posies to the homes of some of our older members. If you are in good health and would be glad to do this, please pop along to church on Sunday between 10 am & 11 am and collect some posies to deliver. There will also be some letters for delivery. Some of us will be there to coordinate this and look forward very much to seeing you briefly then.
- Our Choristers will continue to meet on Thursday evenings 6 pm – 7.15 pm for their practice whilst the schools remain open but this will cease if the situation changes.
- Toddler Church will take a break until further notice.
- Space to be, Freedom Club , the Lent Groups and Eco Church will not meet until further notice.
- The Church will be opened weekdays between 11.30 am – 2 pm and at the weekend 10 am – 12 noon for private prayer.
- We shall offer the Eucharist throughout this time of suspension on behalf of us all in small groups of three during which we shall pray with intention for you all, for Streatham and for the wider world.
We will use our email group as well as our Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep you updated and in touch.
Thank you to all of you who responded with offers of support for our older isolated people who live alone. We will be in touch shortly with contact details of those who would value your support.
If you are someone who would usually makes a donation via the offertory plate on Sundays, and can afford it, we would ask you to consider continuing to support the work of St Leonard’s using our online options. We have set the budget at St Leonard’s on the assumption that each week a collection will be taken. Our outgoing expenses will remain much the same and we are committed to paying our staff, the bills and making our contribution to the Diocese of Southwark despite the change of circumstance.
And finally please pray:
God of healing and hope, in Jesus you meet us in our places of pain and fear.
Look with mercy on those who have contracted the new virus, on any who are vulnerable, and on all who feel in danger.
Through this time of global concern, by your Holy Spirit bring out the best not the worst in us.
Make us more aware of our interdependence on each other, and of the strength that comes from being one body in you.
Through Christ our wounded healer. Amen.
With my love and prayers,