All Saints Day: A Pastoral Statement from the Chairs of the London District
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’
And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Our Christian faith is a message of hope overwhelming despair, of life overcoming death, of light breaking into the darkness. Again, we are called to bring the Gospel of hope to a world that is aching, broken and anxious and none of us is immune to the pain, fear and suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As we prepare to respond to the lockdown that begins at midnight on Thursday, we know that people will be upset and frustrated, and many will be anxious about their own well-being and that of their families. The closure of our churches for public worship is a blow to those who have worked so hard to make them safe.
The commandments of Jesus to love God and love our neighbours are at the heart of all we do and are woven together. To love our neighbours is an act of worship in which we show our love of God, reflecting Jesus’ actions of self-giving grace. By ensuring each other’s safety and protecting the vulnerable we demonstrate love in action.
At the bottom of this statement is a link to the details of the new national restrictions, applying to all of England from midnight on Thursday 5th November, and a copy of the text referring particularly to religious services. You will see that our caring activities, in terms of formal childcare, schools, food banks and other essential voluntary services can continue. Private prayer is also permissible but not public acts of worship. The details of numbers relating to the occasional offices are also provided.
Emma Scowcroft, from the MHCLG Faith, Integration and Communities Division says, in an email to faith leaders;
“We recognise the pain and sadness that these new measures will bring for you and your communities, especially for those of you whose important festivals or events will fall during the period of restrictions - including Diwali, Bhandi Chhor Divas and Advent Sunday, amongst others. We know that your innovation, resilience and imagination – so apparent in recent months - will once again come to the fore, to enable worship and other important events to continue in some form.”
As London District Chairs, we recognise Emma’s words as they relate to the Methodist people in London over these recent months and we assure you of our love, prayers and support as we travel together through the weeks to come.
God of healing love,
be with those who are ill and anxious,
comfort those who mourn,
bring peace to those in turmoil.
Wipe every tear from our eyes.
God of boundless grace,
be with our congregations as we are parted,
be with those who rely on our care,
be with those stretched beyond enduring.
Wipe ever tear from our eyes.
God of endings and beginnings,
be with us as winter draws near,
help us to worship in ways that honour you
sustain us with your Word
and remind us that you are the Alpha and Omega,
the first and the last,
world without end.
Michaela Youngson, Jongi Zihle, Nigel Cowgill
Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.
Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
To broadcast acts of worship
Formal childcare or where part of a school
Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
Other exempted activities such as some support groups