January 5, 2021
ollowing last night’s address by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, putting the country into a full lockdown from Wednesday, January 6, the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen and the Bishop of St Germans, the Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, have written to clergy and parish leaders.
The new lockdown restrictions at this time do not require places of worship to close and private prayer may also continue.
‘Be kind and understanding’
Addressing the issue over whether to keep church buildings open, the bishops’ letter reiterates their support for parishes and clergy with whatever choice they make and encourages us all to be ‘kind and understanding of those who come to different conclusions’. It states: “As we have said many times before, ‘can’ does not mean ‘must’ and while communal worship is permissible under the government’s restrictions, in some places it will not be advisable. It is for each church community to decide what to do, with support and guidance from the diocese and national church.’
Reminding all that ‘gathering for worship is one part of church life, but not everything, and gathering together in a church building is one way to worship, but not the only way’, the bishops urge us all to remember the fullness of what it means to be church and a church community.
“We are profoundly grateful”
The bishops are keen to acknowledge all the efforts already put in to maintaining church over the last year.
“Over the last 11 months, through times of lockdown and eased restrictions, the church in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has continued to worship, pray and serve – often in creative ways and at significant cost – and we are profoundly grateful for everything you have done to make that possible.
“During that time we have learnt about worshipping online and by phone, about how to stay safe when we are together in church, about running food banks and debt centres, about sharing our faith and being of practical service to our neighbours. In all of this, profoundly demanding as it has been, we have encountered God in new ways and learnt more about his love for his fragile and suffering world.”
Online & Dial-in Services available
In many areas the various online services and offerings have continued even when the country was not in lockdown. You can find the latest information as to what online services and events are available on the diocesan website here. There is also information about dial-in services available for those who are not online.
Reflecting on the situation we all now find ourselves again, the bishops’ letter goes on to say: “Now we face a new lockdown, and we do not underestimate the demands it places on you and on the communities you serve, especially schools and colleges, where head teachers, staff and students are facing another year of profound disruption. Our prayers are with you all.
“Much is changing as a result of Covid and we have learnt much and lost much. We are being called into an unknown future we had not planned for and while the vaccine offers a way out of the restrictions, life will not return to the normal we once knew. The world is changing, and the church is changing too.
“But we are people of hope, not simply in the future offered by a vaccine, but in the greater future promised by God. Our prayer therefore is that we will all keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of hope dwells, and who is the presence of God’s good future with us now. It is in this future, which is nothing less than the Kingdom of God, that our true hope lies.”