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11th November 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
I recall thinking back in March that if we could be back in church for a Christmas Eve service then I would be delighted. However, the current situation means that this will sadly not be possible. It is important that we still celebrate Christmas and with this in mind we have decided upon the following changes to our services.
From the first Sunday in December we will be moving to livestream the morning service and pre-recording the evening service. The same method of seat allocation will still be in place as will all the current regulations and guidelines. It is hoped that this may make it easier for those who would like to attend but can’t come out in an evening or do not like to venture out in the dark nights. We also realise that there may be those who still feel uneasy about coming and we completely understand that. It will also be our intention on the evening of Sunday 29th November to have communion as part of the service and more information on this will be made available. We are grateful to all who have helped put the livestreaming in place and who week by week enable us all in one way or another to enjoy the services.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Our Christmas Eve service this year will be pre-recorded and put out on YouTube at 7pm. I aim to get different people involved in readings, testimony and singing and there will be a short nativity from the children of JAM as well as C Sharp taking place. On Christmas Day we will have a short interactive service on ZOOM at 11am giving us a chance to at least spend a short time ‘together’. Neither of these options are ideal but in the current climate we believe they are the best way to reach out at this time of year. We ask that you pray about them and, depending on what guidelines are in place, consider inviting some friends or neighbours to join you in your homes for a different style of carol service.
None of us could have foreseen the havoc and misery that this pandemic has brought with the last eight months being so difficult for everyone. However, as we prepare for the Christmas season, we remind ourselves that it is primarily about Jesus, the light of the world stepping down into the darkness. If ever the message of the angels upon the Saviour’s birth was needed, then now is the time; do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.
Thank you to you all for your continued prayers and support in these unprecedented times.
29th July 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
The psalmist in Psalm 122 begins by saying, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” It is now 19 Sundays since we were last able to gather together in the church building. As we move into phase 3 of lockdown, church premises are permitted to reopen, albeit with certain restrictions.
As indicated, it is our intention to restart services in the church from Sunday 9th August, initially only the evening service. As I am sure you will understand, there is a lot of preparation required to get the building up to the required safety conditions. We are currently also restricted to a maximum of 50 people and the actual number who can attend will be decided by how many people we can accommodate whilst adhering to physical distancing guidelines. With this in mind, we need to know who would intend to come along.
Therefore, we are asking those who would like to attend to indicate that by filling in the short form at the link below ASAP:
If you can’t fill in the form online please register your interest by contacting Graham by phone (01343 547743) or email (email@example.com). If you are responding this way please state which of the Sunday evenings in August you would like to come, and if responding for more than one person then we need to know how many in total.
We will give out further information regarding all that will be required of those coming, and the guidelines to be followed nearer the time. The service will also be livestreamed.
I know that these past 19 weeks have been difficult for many and I want to thank you all for your continued support of the church at this time. As we look forward to getting back, I ask for your continued patience as we seek to manage our return as best, safely and fairly as possible.
Yours in Christ
Graham and the deacons
4th July 2020
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I want to begin by thanking you all for your continued support of everything that as a church we are seeking to do in these unprecedented times. I, like you, feel the ache of not being able to gather physically to worship God, and the opportunity of fellowshipping together. However, there does seem some light at the end of the tunnel, certain restrictions have been lifted, and we look forward to more in the future.
With this in mind, as a leadership we feel now is the time to lay out a road map regarding our return to worship. As with all things, amidst this pandemic, these plans are conditional on the virus staying suppressed and the ongoing restrictions being lifted.
Phase 3, which is due to begin on the 9th July will, in time, allow for:
‘places of worship will be able to open to extended groups, subject to physical distancing and hygiene safeguards.’
The Scottish government has said this will not happen before the 23rd of July. Even then, many restrictions will still be in place, such as physical distancing, no passing of offering bags, no congregational singing, and no communion. Therefore, managing a return to our building is particularly challenging due to spacing requirements and the difficulty of ventilating an old building. With this in mind, the leadership have decided to continue with our current arrangements for both Sunday morning services and midweek prayer meetings for the time being.
It is then our intention that from the 9th of August we will begin holding the Sunday evening services in the church with the permitted number of people in attendance whilst adhering to all the above restrictions. We are currently looking at the best means and practise of accommodating those who desire to gather from the 9th of August and more information on that will be made available in due course. For those who for whatever reason are not able to attend the service physically, the service will be livestreamed.
Our aim in doing this is to get accustomed to the livestreaming technology and to iron out any problems before returning to gathered Sunday morning services. However, it is worth noting that it will be well into phase 4 before there will be the possibility of returning in any great numbers.
This has been a testing time for everyone and although technology has enabled us to feel part of church it is not the same as being gathered together physically. I would like to put on record my thanks to those who have been working on the technology, especially Gilbert but also to David Pearson-Brand and Darren Main.
I have recently began reading through 1st Thessalonians and was struck afresh by the commendation Paul made of the church. They were a church whose work was produced by faith, their labour prompted by love and their endurance inspired by hope. Faith, hope and love three essential ingredients for any church. They also welcomed with joy the message of the gospel in such a way they became a model church. And in verse 10 of chapter 1 Paul tells us how they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, who recuses us from the coming wrath. They were a working, loving, enduring, welcoming, serving, waiting church. It is my prayer that as we begin to look forward to gathering together again, we will come back as such a church; and that the Lord’s message will ring out loudly, not just with words but with the Holy Spirit thus bringing with it deep conviction.
Whatever this summer holds for you I pray that you continue to keep safe and keep pressing on.
Yours in Christ
Graham and the leadership
18th March 2020
Following the recent advice from both the government and the BUS (Baptist Union of Scotland) concerning Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a church leadership, we have regrettably decided to suspend all church services as from today (18th March). This includes Sunday worship am and pm, mid-week prayer meetings, growth groups, and all other events. These are measures we are putting in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all the congregation and the wider community.
We are aware that these measures will have considerable implications for how as a church we function in the short to mid-term, perhaps even longer. As a leadership, we want to put in place structures that will enable us to care for one another both practically and spiritually.
Although we have suspended our normal services, we are not suspending worship; and although we will not able to gather together we encourage as many as possible to tune in online and if possible, at our usual Sunday morning service time of 11 am. I will be continuing our studies in John which will be recorded and made available online via YouTube each Sunday. I would also encourage you to make use of the many other excellent resources that are available and a list highlighting some of these will be given out soon.
Sunday Services are available on our YouTube channel:
Again, we would encourage everybody to set aside time on Thursday and Sunday evening in order to pray. We are currently holding virtual prayer meetings using Zoom. Links for the Zoom meetings will be shared via the church WhatsApp.
If you need help getting started with Zoom see this guide.
Like worship and prayer, the need for pastoral care is just as important. Indeed in this situation perhaps more so. However, in the current climate visitation will also be suspended except in exceptional circumstances. We encourage everyone to use their growth group as the first point of contact where we can pray and offer practical help for each other. If you are not in a growth group then please do not hesitate to contact me at home on 01343 547743, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the church WhatsApp or Facebook page. It is important that we look out for one another and offer help in whatever way it is needed. For example, shopping, dropping off a meal, chatting, praying, etc. Paul writing in Galatians 6:10 says this; “therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
We are aware that these measures will have considerable implications for how we function as a church. However, church is not about the building but the people so although many challenges lie ahead it may also be a time of opportunity. We have seen and are seeing just how fragile life can be and how quickly things can change. Amidst it all we hold fast to the truth that God is Sovereign in all things and we rest in the assurance that, as Psalm 46 reminds us, God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear; may He be exalted among the nations.
The next few months may prove to be the most difficult that many of us will ever have faced; we will see our activities restricted many even confined to our homes may we use the time wisely in helping one another and in growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus as we spend time with Him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6 – 7
Yours in Christ
Graham and the Deacons