To all parishioners and friends of St David and St Michael & All Angels Churches, Exeter
13 January 2021
After considerable thought and prayer it was decided yesterday by your PCC that we should apply to the Bishop of Exeter for worship in person to be suspended in the Parish during the current lockdown. As you may know many places of worship are applying to close even though current restrictions allow places of worship to remain open where it is safe.
I would like to explain why this difficult decision was taken and how things will go ahead.
There has been a rapid rise in Covid infections in the Exeter area. We have been monitoring them for some time and this is the worst rise we have seen. The new variant of Covid is more infectious than the previous strain and there is no doubt that to continue worship would put our congregations and volunteers as significantly increased risk of potentially serious illness.
However the decision was not an easy one and, personally, I had very much hoped that we could have stayed open this time. The real loss of fellowship and sacramental worship was acknowledged at our meeting. A thoughtful and broad PCC discussion took into consideration a wide range of views both of members and of others who had contacted members. In the end, the decision was agreed by a large majority.
So public services will cease in our churches from today. But it will still be possible to visit church for private prayer (if it is safe for you to do so) at the following times:
St Michael’s, Mount Dinham: 11am -12noon on Sundays
St David’s: 9.30 – 10.30am on Sundays
10.30 – 11.30am on Thursdays
We agreed to review the situation in mid February (around half-term when there will be a national review). All current suspensions of worship by the Bishop of Exeter will last until 1 March, but if the situation improves here we can apply to reopen at any time.
Also, funerals (at the moment of up to 30 attendees) will be able to take place despite of the shut down of regular services.
We aim to offer at least:
Daily prayer on Facebook or Zoom
A weekly service with sermon, intercessions and music on Youtube
A Thrive Service on Zoom on Sunday afternoons at 4pm including questions and discussions
A Zoom ‘coffee meeting’ on Sunday at 10.30am (with the opportunity to talk in groups)
Online Lent Groups and a Reading Group
An Ash Wednesday service by Zoom
I realize that this does not ‘make up’ for the loss of worship together in person, which has always been the lifeblood of the Christian Church. But I hope that you will consider joining in at least some of our online prayer, worship and other activities if you possibly can. It is important that we keep praying for each other and for our world; for the end of this pandemic and for those who are especially suffering through it.
And please keep in touch with each other as much as you can. If you are feeling isolated please let me, Ash, Belinda or someone else in the church know. We will do our best to partner you with someone to talk regularly. These winter weeks of lockdown may be challenging for many of us so please consider if there is someone, or several people, you can actively encourage with a phone call or message.
With every good wish and blessing,