18th March 2020
Dear Spicer Street Church family,
I am writing on behalf of the elders to inform you we have concluded that we should suspend, with immediate effect, our Sunday services and all our other meetings for the next month at least (i.e. up to and including Sunday 19 April). We will of course, continue to keep the situation under close review.
The reasons for the decision
As you can imagine, we have taken this decision with very heavy hearts, but we are persuaded this course of action is in line with the government’s recommendations and guidelines, and we do believe that the authorities are seeking our good and the good of the whole country. Their strategy is clear: the spread of the virus needs to be slowed down, and avoiding gatherings both large and small is a key way of achieving this aim. We understand this strategy may well significantly reduce the loss of life and so we are persuaded that willingly complying with the guidelines is the right and loving response. We would also guess that the restrictions are only likely to increase. Whilst we must, as an independent church, take responsibility for our own decision we also note that the FIEC recommends this course of action and many other churches are also suspending their meetings.
Not gathering together will not sit comfortably with any of us. We hear the injunction of Hebrews 10:25 and are rightly nervous. However, that warning was for those who were drifting away from church and does not, in our view, function as an absolute command for those who love church and are faced with difficult choices involving the protection of the vulnerable. We can only make the best decisions we can before the Lord and entrust ourselves to his mercy and grace.
A time for growth
Let’s pray that this time is a season of growth for us spiritually and let us be outward looking to see how we can serve those around us. And let’s pray that challenges and difficulties ahead soften many hearts to the gospel.
How do we aim to function as a church during this season? We are looking to have a sermon ready for you online each Sunday morning and also possibly one for Sunday evening. We hope to have these available on the website. Going forward we also plan to make available ongoing teaching on the catechism and material for children. It would be wonderful if families could take time on Sunday to worship together, sing, pray and listen to the online teaching. Restrictions permitting, might you invite someone who lives alone to join you? These could yet be very special times for us all.
We will not be able to meet in small groups as before and some are already gearing up to study together online. We are leaving this up to each group as the groups and the group leaders will be best placed to judge what will work best for their particular group.
Caring for one another
We are aware that we will need to stay in touch with each other in the weeks and months ahead. Each member is allocated to an elder and we hope you will be in touch with each other. For regulars who are not members we are equally keen to stay in touch with you and we will be seeking to contact you in the days ahead. We are also mindful that there is a network of supportive relationships across the church - we pray that these would grow and deepen. We will be seeking to identify who are the most vulnerable and isolated and looking to help them.
Youth and children’s ministries
Dan Hook and Judith Keane will be available to help in any way they can. If you have a youngster in the youth work they will be in touch with you in due course.
We hope the office will remain open. And also please feel to contact us if we can be of any help.
Most of us will be finding this time deeply unsettling. Let us pray often for each other and may we know, through the Holy Spirit, the grace, mercy and peace of God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
With love in the Lord Jesus