Message from Paul Stow

May 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

First of all I hope you and your families are all continuing to remain safe and well during this latest period of lockdown. We are now in Week 9 of lockdown and whilst the Government have relaxed some of its lockdown measures, all indications are is that many of the restrictions that were put in place at the beginning, i.e. social distancing, working from home if possible,  minimal outdoor activities, not allowing people into our homes including family members, will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Since lockdown began, technology has come into its own in that people have been able to remain connected with each other through platforms such as Facebook, Zoom, WhatsApp, and with regard to God’s church that is Hadleigh Baptist, through our website and HBC Friends Face Book page ( HBC Friends ) the latter of which has proved very popular. Subject to the Covid Alert Level, further lifting of restrictions have been planned by Central Government which include some children returning to school in early June which and in July there are plans to reopen churches and some restaurants/pubs although they will all continue to be subject to social distancing and other safety restrictions.

During my Zoom meeting with Michael Collins and David Ince in which we discussed the extension to the lockdown and July being the earliest we can expect the church to reopen, we felt that as people are using technology more and more to remain in contact, especially Zoom, we should use Zoom as a means to meet together for prayer and to meet ‘socially’ over a cuppa.

In this respect Michael has organised a ‘Zoom social’ at 2pm on Thursday afternoon (21st) the details of which Carol has already circulated to the church by email, and next Monday (25th) we will be holding a 30 minute Zoom prayer meeting at 7.30pm. Michael will also organise this and again the details will be forwarded to everyone by email.

Whilst holding ‘virtual’ meetings are not the same as meeting physically, they are nevertheless a great way to stay connected and to also encourage each other as we continue to remain physically separated from each other. I would therefore like to encourage as many people as possible to join the 2 meetings which we intend to hold each week until such time we are able to meet physically. If you are intending to join the 2 meetings, can I ask that you email Michael to advise him and so that he can include you in the Zoom email invitations.

Like many people, I have been reflecting upon the re-opening of the church and, in particular, what it will look like, and what is very clear is that when we do reopen, it will be nothing like it was before the lockdown in terms of what we were able to do. I heard that in Germany, churches have now reopened but they are still subject to strict social distancing which means numbers attending are limited, the length of the services are considerably shorter, and they are not allowed to sing hymns/songs as anyone who may have the virus could infect those around with their exhaled breath. Along with my fellow ministers, I am  expecting guidelines from both the Government and the BU about what we can/cannot do once we re-open, but we are under no illusion that until a vaccine is found, church as we knew it before the lockdown, has gone, and a very different church will take its place.

I am also very aware that people, especially those who fall within the Governments ‘vulnerable’ category, will be very reluctant to venture outside and gather with other people, especially somewhere like church. In this respect, until such time you feel it is safe for you to attend the ‘new’ form of church, I and the Leadership would encourage you to remain at home and we will continue to stay in contact with you via Mobile/Facebook/WhatsApp/Zoom etc

Because of Covid19,  the way we live, communicate, gather, and socialise has changed beyond all recognition. But whilst our way of life has changed, our God is unchanging. He is the ‘same yesterday, today, and forever’, and as His people we can trust that our unchanging God will continue to bring us safely through this ongoing global crisis, and that regardless of what the church will ‘look like’ once it reopens, our unchanging God will continue to build His church against which the Gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Paul

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