As I sat down to write for the April Family News Magazine, I was fully ex-
pecting to write about the joys of spring, and looking forward to everything
that we had planned for our Easter celebrations. Sadly, this is now not the
Have you ever been in a position where you have to make a decision, and
you know with absolute certainty that the decision you make will be the
wrong decision? I usually get that sense as I sit in a restaurant searching
through the menu for the thing that I want to eat – and then just as I give
my order to the waiter I see someone else deliver the most gorgeous, glori-
ous looking food to another table –and I know in that instant, that I made
the wrong decision!
Earlier this week I had to make some serious decisions, and I knew that for
many many people they would be the wrong decision. As I am writing we
are in the first week of ‘social distancing’ enforced by the British Govern-
ment as they try to keep us all safe from the threat of corona virus or Covid
As many of us gathered to worship on Sunday, and then went on to The
Piano to share food and fellowship together, there was a real sense that
this could be the last time we would be able to do this for a very long time –
sadly, we were right. It felt like a precious time, and I for one knew that I
couldn’t just take it for granted. As the news unfolded on Monday, initially
the decision was made to cease all midweek events – knowing that for
some people these events are their lifeline, for some it is the one event in
their week that they look forward to. I knew that closing our doors would be
the ‘wrong’ decision for them and could lead to isolation, loneliness, de-
pression and other mental health problems.
But the point at which I sobbed my heart out, was late on Monday evening
when Matt Hancock, the current health minister stood up in the house of
commons and said that all religious and faith gatherings must stop. Even
then I held off from sending out the news, hoping above all hope that the
Baptist Union would come up with a loophole, a plan of action that would
mean that we could still safely meet or do something. Sadly and inevita-
bly not. And so the decision was made to close the church doors fully.
And thank you to the many of you who have messaged support and have
stood with me as I communicated this message understanding that this
really is a very necessary course of action.
But it is a hard one, and it just doesn’t sit right with many of us – never in
peace time have the church doors remained closed. And we know that
In times of trouble people turn to God and to the church –where will they
go if we are not there? And this is where God pulled me up sharply!
Of course we are still there! We are more than the building we gather in!
We are the people of God, filled with his Holy Spirit, we are the scattered
church! Now we get the opportunity to think of creative ways to be
church, ways to bless each other, ways to bless those in our community
who are lonely, isolated and fearful. I have already been so encouraged
by the ways I have watched you pull together, praying, sharing, loving
and supporting one another, and it has blessed me so very much. But
please pray also for me, as I figure out over the next while what it means
to be a minister through these unprecedented times.
What do I do instead of leading and preparing bible studies, what do I do
instead of sharing the gospel at the school, the college and the old folks
home? What do I do instead of visiting you? I have not ministered
through a pandemic before – neither have my wise and learned minister
friends who I often turn to for support and advice. None of us have done
this before. So be patient with me and with each other as the novelty
wears off and this period of isolation drags on and becomes boring and
frustrating. Be safe and take care of yourselves and each other – even
when it feels like overkill! And most of all live in the love, grace and mer-
cy of Jesus.