It is with regret that I write to you to tell you that on Monday night the Church Council decided to close St Andrew’s with immediate effect, a decision that will be reviewed at the PCC on Feb 8th. This applies both to public worship and private prayer.
This painful decision was taken in light of the ever rising Covid 19 infection rate in the city and after consultation with clergy colleagues. It transpires that no other church in the Deanery is staying open and therefore if St Andrew’s were to do so, it would send out a very strong message. The message we would want to send is that worshipping God is of prime importance and that the church is a Covid secure place. Both of those things remain true, but as all good communicators know the message one intends to send and the message that is received can be two different things. More likely, people would hear the message that the church doesn’t care; and doesn’t take people’s health and safety seriously. There remain far too many people who refuse to abide by the rules and the PCC wants to underline in the strongest possible terms that careless behaviour costs lives. Keeping personal interactions to the absolute minimum is the only way to preserve life and safeguard an overburdened NHS until the vaccines are widely available.
I can’t tell you how bitterly Fran and I regret not being able to have a ‘proper’ leaving service, but we have had to bow to the inevitable, grateful as always for the incredible support of our wonderful co-leaders and their collective wisdom.
This coming Sunday, January 17th, we will revert to the pattern established in the first lockdown: prerecording a service and posting it on the website at 10 a.m.
January 24th will be different for obvious reasons. There will be no service of any kind at 10 a.m. At 6.30 p.m. we will livestream a service from St Martin’s Finham. This will only be attended in person by Fran and I, our son Dan (who is back living with us), Sue Masters who will lead the service, Nick Tooby who will be speaking on behalf of the congregation, Revd Kate Massey, who will be speaking on behalf of clergy colleagues and two staff from Finham who will enable the livestreaming. We will publish details later as to how to access this service, but please note two things: it is live so if you tune in late, you will miss it. However, we are also intending to record the service and make it available at a later date, which will enable those of you who are not especially technically proficient to wait for a son/daughter/grandchild to visit and allow you to watch it on their device.
Thereafter, we will revert to the practice of posting services at 10 a.m. that can be watched at any time.
I will save words of farewell and thanks for another occasion but would remain grateful for your prayers through these coming weeks.