A Message from Mark Standen - Rector of St Margaret’s
We have now received formal guidance from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as to the way churches should function for the time being. The guidance is contained in a pastoral letter and if you'd like to read it in full, it can be found here
The most striking sentence in the guidance is that public worship in Churches is to be suspended with immediate effect until further notice. This includes public services on Sundays and at other times of the week.
The Archbishops say:-
"Being part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day. We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support...
This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you brothers and sisters to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”
Our staff and wardens spent much of yesterday thinking through the practical implications of this guidance and challenge to us at St Margaret's, and we want you let you know our initial conclusions to date:-
- We will livestream - on our website - a 'service' on Sundays behind closed doors from 10am, starting this coming Sunday (March 22) and we would encourage you to join with us if you possibly can. The Archbishops have designated this particular Sunday as a day of prayer and action, and we hope that you will be able to join with us on that day.
- We aim to extend this to include other 'events'.
- The church building will be open 9.30am to 12.30pm weekdays, to enable people to come in for private prayer.
- We will be seeking as a priority to give support to those members of our church community who will need a helping hand in this period and seeing what help they might need, and matching their needs with the kind offers to help already received. Please keep those offers coming. The Church Office will be a key hub for co-ordinating this support.
- We will be considering how we can contribute to the broader needs of the communities in which we live, and the community of Angmering in which our church is placed, pointing them to the love and grace of God in these anxious times.
- We will be seeking ways in which we can continue to invest in the spiritual lives of our church members over this period. There are lots of resources that are available, or will become available, to enrich our lives, and we will want to signpost you to them.
- We want to encourage each of our members to be looking out, as far as possible, to helping one another through this period. There are so many ways in which we can keep in touch nowadays (e.g. phone calls, texts, messenger, WhatsApp) so let's support each other well at this time.
There are obviously lots of things still to be thought and prayed through, and there will be regular updates in the coming days. If you are aware of those who do not have email access, can you please pass on the information contained here to them.
But let's take to heart the encouragement and challenge of the Archbishops in their pastoral letter. Even though we will not be able to worship as we are used to for (hopefully) a few months; even though our pattern of life will look very different; even though we may be fearful for our health, and the health of those we love, we have enormous privileges in Christ, and great security in him.
'You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy' [1 Peter 2v9-10]
With love in the Lord Jesus Christ,