Thursday 19 March 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Elders and have come to the decision that we should suspend all physical gatherings of the church. We haven’t made this decision lightly, but by carefully considering the government/NHS advice and our responsibility to avoid spreading coronavirus. We recognise that some of you will find our decision and its implications difficult, but we believe it is the right decision and are confident that the Lord will sustain us through this different and difficult time.
The government has asked us all to stop all ‘non-essential contact with others’, and that we should avoid going to places where people gather such as pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues. Earlier this week in parliament, the Health Secretary confirmed church meetings were included.
Although these restrictions are not yet being imposed by law, we believe that it is right that we comply with the government’s request. The authorities are seeking to act in the best interest of the public, so far as they understand the situation. Their concern, particularly, is to protect the ability of the NHS to act as effectively as possible in this crisis and to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Not to go along with what they are asking us to do, we believe would be irresponsible.
So, while the government continues to advise against public contact, we are suspending all the gatherings and meetings of the church and seeking to reduce face to face interaction to an absolute minimum.
We do of course want to maintain the life of the church as much as is possible and so we are planning to do the following:
1. We intend to offer live streaming of church services. This means those with internet access and computers or smart phones can log in to view and hear our 10.30am service starting this Sunday, 22nd March. We will be using both Zoom and YouTube, so that you should definitely be able to connect to one of them.
You’ll find this on our website: On the menu along the top on the page you’ll see a new option: Watch Live. This will contain links to the service by Zoom (recommended) or YouTube. Further instruction will be available on those pages. Initially it won’t be a full service, but will include prayer, Bible reading and a message. We encourage you to join us.
As the weeks go by we hope to take full advantage of the many exciting opportunities of this technology to bring you a more comprehensive Sunday Service, possibly with times of open prayer, discussions and sharing testimonies and encouragements. We’re going to be starting small but have big plans to bring the full PBC experience to you wherever you are! Please do be patient with us while we get the technology worked out.
If you are not able to join/listen live, you will still be able to listen later through the church website in the normal way and we are looking into alternatives for those who do not have internet access so please let us know if you need this.
2. We are also looking at ways of helping the church to connect up at other times, for Bible study, prayer and discussion. Further details on this will follow. Our communication with one another is going to be even more vital during this difficult time and we will endeavour to send out updates and matters for prayer as often as possible.
Also, we encourage you to support others in the church family more than you would usually do, by phone, text, WhatsApp, etc, It’s vital that we keep in touch with each other in that way as much as we can.
We are confident that the Lord is on the throne, that we are safe in Him and that He has His purposes in this crisis. So many things that people have trusted in and lived for are being taken away, at least for a while. We must pray that the Lord will use these things to shake and awaken our nation.
As Elders we are also praying that the Lord will use this difficult time for the good of our church and that it will even be a time when our faith is strengthened as these circumstances cast us more and more on Him. We also pray that it will make us more appreciative of those blessings of church life that we can so easily take for granted.
Please pray for Elders and Deacons as we continue to think through these things and lead the church through this unprecedented time. We trust you will understand and give your full support to the decisions we have made, but please let us know if you have any concerns.
The Lord reigns.
Yours in Christ
The Church Elders