Dear Members and Friends of Shirley Baptist Church,
My greetings to you in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In these concerning times with the coronavirus now pandemic, I do pray that you will continue to take to heart the encouragement we are given that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1:7)
The situation being very fluid means that things can change quite rapidly, but the latest government recommendations, endorsed by the Baptist Union, to which we belong, mean that we will have to close all internal and external events and church services with immediate effect.
All life groups have chosen to suspend too, with some having set up WHATSAPP groups to keep in touch. It is important we stay in touch and do what we can to maintain our fellowship even in isolation. Remember we are not isolated from the Lord, and the opportunity to strengthen our own life with Him is there to be enjoyed and extended.
It is hoped that we can download a shortened Sunday service podcast each Sunday and provide a midweek devotional to help maintain our unity in the Spirit. For those without the internet we will try to get the service on to CD and deliver to those who want it. Please be patient with us in this process as we are all learning how best to proceed, but we will do all we can to make sure that no one lacks for the spiritual encouragement they need, and the practical care they may require. I am always happy to answer my phone and speak to you about anything.
As a church we must pray for God to guide and aid those who work on discovering a vaccine quickly. We must make sure that though coronavirus may limit our times of meeting together, it does not quarantine our faith and we continue to witness to that by making sure that where we can help, we do help. Use the telephone more to keep in contact with other people. Pastoral visits may get more limited so, if you do need help urgently, call me, Paul, the church office or anyone in the Ministry Team so we know what the need is and can make sure we do all we can to meet it.
On the physical front, if you are more elderly and you do have any underlying health issues, then do stay at home as the government advises. This coronavirus COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways, and so, if you have either a high temperature, you feel hot to the touch on your chest or back, or you have a new continuous cough, then 14 days of self-isolation is required. We will do our best to keep you all updated but please do ask if you have any concerns. I know these are worrying days but let us find our rest in God. In Jeremiah 33:6, God promises His people, “I will bring health and healing; I will heal my people and let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
It is right however that we still act sensibly and in line with good medical advice.
- carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue;
- washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser gel to kill germs.
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- if you feel unwell, stay at home.
- cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Please stay safe and perhaps like Esther, it may be that we were put where we are, for such a time as this?
In Him and with love, your friend and pastor,
(For and on behalf of the whole Ministry Team at Shirley Baptist)