It won’t be a surprise to any of us that the start of this new year looks much the same as the end of the old one. The rise in Covid cases which has led to the closure of our schools and shops and forbidden our family gatherings, must cause us all concern and we have a responsibility as Christians, as well as good citizens, to ‘do the right thing’ and obey the law. But, unlike in previous lockdowns, churches are this time legally permitted to stay open, leaving us with the freedom to meet in the limited form we have become used to. In spite of this, the Baptist Union has encouraged us to close our doors to all but essential services like Foodshare, giving us these reasons for doing so:
Our freedom must always be held in tension with love. As Christians, we have always had something profound to say about the nature of sacrifice and selflessness. At this time when our society is speaking and relearning the language of laying down their life for their friends, it would be deeply ironic if we put our own need to worship in person before the common good. We are listening to the experiences of church members who work in hospitals and healthcare. In the sacrifice of losing a Sunday gathering, we believe, we join with our communities to ease the strain on the NHS and save the lives of friends and strangers… For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.
The leadership team at DGBC agrees with the BU, so we are not holding any in-person services for the time being, though our online services will continue as before. We are in the very fortunate position of being able to distribute recordings of the services to all those in our fellowship who do not have internet, so no-one needs to be left out. Furthermore, we know that our online services are appreciated by others who live elsewhere in the country, as well as overseas, so our mission has not been curtailed by the pandemic, for which we give God glory. That doesn’t mean that we are complacent, or have failed to understand that meeting in person is of vital importance for the growth of our love and fellowship. Some churches will doubtless stay open for that very reason, and we honour their decision which we are sure was not taken lightly. However, at this vital time, with the vaccine already being administered and hope beginning to grow that the end of this pandemic is on the horizon, we will close our doors and continue to trust God to work through the new and significant opportunities which this pandemic has given us. Messy Church goes live at 3 on Sunday afternoon; our prayer meeting is active on Saturday mornings at 9; homegroups are up and running via Zoom and there is a chance every week for us to catch up at 11.45 on Sunday mornings, where even though we meet as small faces on a screen, we still enjoy our coffee and biscuits together!
This past year has shown us that our church is resilient and alive and that God is using us in the lives of many people throughout our community and beyond. What personal stories do you have of new opportunities which God has given you because of the pandemic… conversations and chances to serve which would never normally have come your way? Please share them with us so that our sense of fellowship will be strengthened, as we continue to give God glory together, keeping connected in whatever ways we can, while we play our part in keeping our community safe.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline