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The United Benefice of Melton of Ufford

From Fr Paul.

The First Sunday of Lent

21st February 2021

Dear Friends,

I hope that you are all well and keeping safe. You are all in my prayers each day.

Here we are almost one year on since the first lockdown s began, and though scientific advancements have meant a vaccine, we must remember that not everyone has been vaccinated and indeed there are many poorer countries where there is no vaccine available. We also do not know how the vaccine works in regard to still being able to pass the virus on to others.

The decision to close our churches for public worship is not one that was taken lightly and all decisions made in the light of the pandemic have been made simply with one thing in mind and that is the commandment of our Lord to love one another. Staying at home and limiting our social interaction will quite simply safe lives and protect not only the excellent  institution of the NHS but those who are working in the NHS all of whom are under immense strain and putting their own  lives at risk for us, as are many other key and essential workers.  Please keep them all in your prayers.

Equally we must be ever mindful of those who have been ill due to covid and those who have lost their lives due to covid. And some members of our own congregations have died of covid and some have been very ill with covid. Our love and prayers extend to them all and to their families.

I fully understand that lockdown and the pandemic puts a strain on us all, and that not being able to see family and friends is having a huge effect on everyone.

Archbishop Justin has made it clear that each church and parish is in a different context and some are able to open in a covid safe way and others are not and each incumbent should asses their own setting.

The  covid law which governs  the opening of  any place of worship, be it a church, synagogue. mosque, temple, meeting place or any other such place of worship states that it is the ‘premise manager’ (which in our terms is the incumbent) must personally ensure that the building is covid safe and that people will adhere to all social distancing and other covid laws, failure to do so will result in the premises manager receiving a £10,000 fine. Ultimately  I cannot make these assurances. If I were to do so, I would be constantly telling people what to do and our 2 churches simply do not allow for the 2 metre distance rule at all times.  The first premise though is to keep everyone safe and the only way of doing that is not to open our churches at the moment.

I appreciate that this has been frustrating for us all. I am grateful for your patience and forbearance, something St Paul writes about in his letter to the Corinthians.

I ask that you continue to be patience and pray for the day when we can safely be together in church again.  

Lent is a time when we are called to repentance, as Our Lord tells us in this morning’s Gospel reading, and  as we perhaps call to mind our own impatience and at times lack of love. We seek to understand more fully the love of God in Christ for us all, and through our common life of prayer and worship we can grow into a deeper relationship to God and to one another.

At this stage I do not want to say when we might open our churches again as we need to wait on the PM’s announcement and further updates on the law.

The live streaming of all our services will continue and for those not able to access this there are other resources available so please do ask me.

The future will be challenging and as we come out of lockdown the whole of society will look and feel different, and so we must come out with a sense of recovery and healing, of patience, understanding forbearance and most of all love.

With my continuing love and prayers for you all

Paul