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Pastoral Letter - 9 December 2021

Dear friends

We have been through a lot together over this last 18 months since the pandemic first started, as households, as communities and as the people of the church. At times we have struggled, but we have also recognised the support we can offer one another in times of adversity. When things have been far from normal, we have adapted in new ways to continue the life and mission of the church. In the face of great hurt and great need, we have found the value of faith and hope. Since the summer we have seen signs of hope in the re-opening of buildings and the re-starting of some of our church and community groups. However, recent news of a new variant of the virus has once again raised the level of concern. Clearly, the pandemic is not yet over. Consequently, as I am sure you are already aware, the government has decided that there is a need for greater restrictions to be in place once again - see detailed guidance dated 8th December. In the light of this, the Methodist Church has also issued guidance dated 9th December, for the use of Methodist property.

These latest restrictions, which come into force from Friday 10th December allow us to continue with services and activities at church. However, an important part of these new requirements is that we should wear a face-covering when inside church premises. Although there is an exemption under government guidelines which allows individuals the choice whether to take off or leave on their face covering whilst singing, we would encourage the wearing of face coverings through the whole service including when hymns are being sung. In saying this, our hope is that we might continue to consider the needs of those around us, especially older people and those who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. We urge that good hygiene practices are followed by everyone as we look to keep each other safe, and we ask that those in positions of leadership continue with keeping church premises ventilated and clean.

We know that amongst each congregation there will be different reactions to these most recent restrictions, especially when it comes to balancing risk with a continuing of community life. Some will be feeling frustrated and others anxious. Please keep showing care for one another, as we remember our unity in Christ.

Revs Philip Drake, Nick Blundell, Christine Crabtree and Deacon Merry Evans.

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