We live in a difficult time with fast moving circumstances in the face of the Covid 19 epidemic. Since the weekend it has been clear that restrictions were going to be placed on us and yesterday the Prime Minster announced that we should avoid all unnecessary social contact. Older people, and those with underlying health problems, have been asked to take even more precautions. The URC’s General Secretary and Deputy General Secretaries have, therefore, written to ministers suggesting that every local congregation strongly consider suspending worship services as a a proper response to the Government’s guidance. We have heard the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church, the Church of England and the Muslim Council of Great Britain have all suspended worship and it is likely that all other churches will too.
Over the weekend I started to plan to offer Sunday services via the Daily Devotions email list. I’m pleased to say that I had lots of offers of help and from this Sunday we will send out, at 10am, a service in both written and audio format. This will have the feel of a service on the radio in our style with well known URC people leading worship. There will be prayers and hymns to join in with as we pray together. There will also be, from time to time, a chance to share bread and wine together – the first such opportunity will be on Easter Sunday.
There are a number of things you can do now to help this project.
please ask anyone in your church who has email and would like to avail themselves of this form of worship to sign up to receive the Devotions Emails. They simply need to go to devotions.urg.org.uk
if you would be willing to be a local contact for your church folk who would like these resources posted to them – either on paper or burnt to a CD and are willing to do this then please email me via email@example.com with the subject line CD. I will then compile a list of of people to email the material out to for you to print (or burn to CD) and distribute locally well before each Sunday service. I am not able to do this centrally for the URC but we can share the load. This facility will be available for worship on 29th March but not this week.
On Sunday Michael Hopkins, clerk of Assembly, will lead worship for us with a focus on Mothering Sunday. On 29th March, Phil Nevard, a minister in the South Western Synod, will lead worship for us. I will lead worship for us on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Our General Secretary elect, John Bradbury, will lead Easter Sunday worship. Nicola Furley Smith, our new Secretary for ministries, will lead worship for us for Low Sunday. After that Fleur Houston, Nigel Uden, Sarah Moore, Richard Church, Janet Sutton Webb, Neil Thorogood and Ruth Browning will all prepare worship for us. We will hear a variety of voices in each service and we will create opportunities for you to join in as well.
We hope that these are a useful resource for the church.
Jan Berry has written this prayer which, I think, is a useful one to pray at the moment:
God our refuge, we seek your protection. Protect the vulnerable from illness: those who are old and frail, weakened by years and struggle; those who care for others, expending energy and love; those for whom inability to work means hardship and poverty.
Protect us from the greed and suspicion which snatches at our own security stock-piling and panic-buying that deprives others of the necessities of life.
Protect us from the shortsightedness which sees the germ in our own eyes and ignores the plagues of hunger, war and violence that take so many lives each day.
Protect us from the isolation that leads to loneliness and despair denying the interconnectedness that links us with one another.
God our refuge in our panic and fear may we not lose sight of our common humanity that makes us one people in you. Amen.
I hope that these resources help us in our panic and fear and keep us connected to the wider Church.
with every good wish
The Rev’d Andy Braunston, Daily Devotions from the URC
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