During these unprecedented times, while we follow the national guidelines to maintain social distancing, Springfield is exploring new ways of being church.
Springfield Church latest updates
These are really fast-moving and changing times. I know there are many of us in this family who are facing a variety of concerns and have a multitude of questions about everything that’s going on. One of my questions was, ‘what about church?’.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued the following guidance yesterday – ‘our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold’ in response to government’s call to reduce all social contact .
In light of this, all existing church activities at Springfield are stopping for the foreseeable future.
This includes all Sunday services, Connect groups, mid-week ministries (CAP job club, Craft River, Drop-in) , and Youth and Children’s groups (Sundays, Tiptoes, Messy Church, The MiX). But in the words of the London bishops, “Our church remains open; our faith in God is undiminished; public worship may be suspended; but the life of God’s kingdom is inextinguishable.”
While I know many of you will feel disappointed and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and lose hope, this gives us an amazing opportunity to be creative in how we connect, and to use this moment for building new patterns of discipleship and loving our neighbours as ourselves in a very literal and practical way.
And this is what we’ll be doing: The Story Continues… Services will be streamed, Skype connect groups and prayer times will be set up, and pastoral networks established.
I would love it if you could join us on Youtube live at 7.30pm this evening to chat through all of this as we seek to build an authentic community, which is Christ centred, and that plays its part in being beacons of hope in our community. It’s really simple, all you need to do in order to watch it is to click on this link. If you’ve got questions, please email them to me and we will do our best to answer them.
I’ll talk through what Sundays will look like, how our mid-week groups will work, and how we’ll be practically caring for and looking out for each other. Don’t worry if you can’t make it at 7.30pm to watch live, the video will be up in the same location afterwards. And for those without the internet, we’ll be contacting them separately over the next few days, and exploring ways in which we can be church with them.
Someone shared a little devotional with me yesterday, and I wanted to share some of it with you all. In Matthew 8.27, the disciples have just experienced a life-threatening storm and seen Jesus miraculously calm it and we read, “The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!“. When we find ourselves in storms we can’t control, how do we respond with faith? Here are three encouraging truths to remember:
1. God has power over every storm.
2. Fixing your eyes on Jesus leads to peace.
3. Jesus is always with you in your boat.
Finally, as per government guidelines, the staff team are now working remotely and the church office is temporarily closed. But we’re all on email and our phone numbers are in ChurchSuite – do please feel free to get in contact if you need to talk through things, would like to arrange to pray, or for anything else.
Springfield Church, Wallington
As you may have gathered by now, we’re in the midst of a situation that most of us will never have experienced before in our lifetimes. It’s a period of uncertainty, where each of us is journeying through uncharted territory. Many of us will be worrying – whether because of having underlying health issues or are particularly vulnerable, knowing loved ones who fall into the vulnerable category, or simply because of the scale of it all.
Despite this, it’s ALWAYS worth remembering that we follow a God who heals, who protects and who provides, and our focus should not be on fear and anxiety but on Jesus and his hope and peace.
For now, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those attending church events, to love and care for those in our Springfield family, and to be beacons of hope in our community. Whatever one’s personal view on the severity of the virus, love means we want to act to protect the most vulnerable and those who are concerned about meeting together for worship and other activities. We will follow the guidance of the government and the Church of England, and consequently things may look and feel a little different:
1. If you have a persistent cough or high temperature please self-isolate as per government advice.
2. If you consider yourself to be vulnerable or unwell, let me encourage you not to come to church. If you’re due to serve in any capacity, please let the appropriate staff team or ministry leader know that you’re not coming. Please don’t feel as though you’re letting anyone down by not fulfilling your commitment, at this time.
3. Please wash your hands (with soap for 20s) on arriving and leaving, and try not to touch your face in the meantime. (For all those on set-up/PA/visuals/welcome/youth & children’s teams – please wash before and after you’ve set-up & set down)
4. Please refrain from shaking hands, hugging and touching when you see people. This means they are not put in the position of feeling they must reciprocate when they are unwilling to. [This extends to ‘laying on of hands’ in prayer].
5. Please keep an eye on your children, to encourage them to wash hands and be aware of their contact with others at church. We understand that this is especially difficult to do with very young children and therefore at this time it would be wise to keep them away from older or vulnerable members of our church.
6. In the near future we are hoping to be able to live-stream the service for any who feel too concerned to come or who have to self-isolate. But until we can, the sermons will be recorded as usual (with video from this Sunday onwards) and can be accessed from the frontpage of the website: www.springfieldchurch.org.uk.
7. We will be reviewing our communion service practice in line with CofE guidelines. Currently this means no shared wine. As our next communion service is due to be Easter Day (Apr 12th), this may well change.
8. For refreshments:
8.1. We intend to ensure a hand sanitizer is available.
8.2. Please could those serving ensure they have washed their hands immediately prior to preparation and serving.
8.3. Please do not help yourself to drinks but allow those serving to serve you, so only they touch the dispensers. (this includes milk)
8.4. We will not be serving biscuits at the refreshments table for the foreseeable future. This protects against many hands touching the table and plates, and the scrum in which everyone is touching one-another!
8.5. We will not be serving toast before the service up in youth.
9. We will limit the number of children’s toys out at any time, only hard toys that can be easily disinfected are to be used. Parents are asked to supervise their children and any toys that are contaminated with bodily fluids are put into a special box and then cleaned thoroughly. All toys should be cleaned as they are put away.
10. For mid-week groups, activities and meetings – the PCC will be meeting on Sunday to decide which groups need to be cancelled and what measures need to be put in place for those others to continue.
While we can (and should) take sensible precautions to help stop the spread of this disease, we must also recognise our calling as Christians to love, be merciful and compassionate and to care for one another. This does not include physically visiting those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are self-isolating – we need to protect ourselves and others and make sure they adhere to hygiene precautions.
However, there are many practical areas in which we might be able to help one another – e.g. delivering shopping, picking up (non-COVID-19 related) prescriptions etc. for anyone who falls ill or has to self-isolate, offering lifts to vulnerable people to get to hospital appointments (in order to avoid using public transport).
If you are self-isolating (out of necessity or choice), or you’re in accommodation with no visitors allowed, or know someone that is, please do please let someone on the staff team know. This ensures that we can pray for you, and arrange for people to keep in contact.
If you would be prepared to offer help (whether practical or contacting over the phone) church family in isolation, please do let someone on the staff team know.
Above all, please pray. Pray for our church family, our nation and our world – for God’s wisdom, His hope, His peace and His healing hand during these troubled times. If you need inspiration to pray, take it from Psalm 27(v.1-7):
The Lord is my revelation-light to guide me along the way;
he’s the source of my salvation to defend me every day.
I fear no one!
I’ll never turn back and run from you, Lord;
surround and protect me.
When evil ones come to destroy me,
they will be the ones who turn back.
My heart will not be afraid even if an army rises to attack.
I know that you are there for me, so I will not be shaken.
Here’s the one thing I crave from God,
the one thing I seek above all else:
I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house,
finding the sweet loveliness of his face,
filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace.
I want to live my life so close to him
that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.
In his shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me,
for he hides me there in his holiness.
He has smuggled me into his secret place,
where I’m kept safe and secure—
out of reach from all my enemies.
Triumphant now, I’ll bring him my offerings of praise,
singing and shouting with ecstatic joy!
Yes, listen and you can hear
the fanfare of my shouts of praise to the Lord!
God, hear my cry. Show me your grace.
Show me mercy, and send the help I need!