Dear Sisters & Brothers,

Please read carefully the letter from the Archbishops and follow appropriately. We will write again tomorrow with further local reflections.

Take this opportunity to reimagine being the Church of England in a whole new way – a great opportunity in very tough times

In Christ

+Paul

The Archbishops’ letter is here: http://bit.ly/ABLETTER-17-3-20

Dear Sisters & Brothers,
 
‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it’’
 
In these uncertain and uncharted times, we do well to regularly remind ourselves of this glorious truth. Christ came to redeem the whole of creation. He is the source of our wisdom and strength. 
Thank you so much for all you have already done in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for continuing to lead worship and prayer. Thank you for the pastoral care you continue to offer. Thank you for your creativity in considering how to support people who have to self-isolate. Thank you for keeping Foodbanks and other forms of support going. Thank you for visiting where you can.
We are well aware that further questions keep emerging and that answers are not readily to hand. Nationally there is work being done to update the C of E guidance every single day so it is always worth checking there first. But we are grateful for the interaction and mutual support being undertaken through the Forum etc. 
What we all need to consider whatever our role is the question, ‘ When offering God worship and prayer and the pastoral care of the most vulnerable are the only things that we can continue to do,  what does it look like in our context?  It will look different in villages from big estates. It will be different where everyone in the community has access to the internet from communities where usage is still low. It asks us to focus on the essentials in a way that we don’t always need to do in normal times. 

It is important that all of us stay as well as we can to be able to serve well. Hence why if we have to self-isolate we should do so that we are available and fit for the long term.

Later in the week, there will be a further, fuller letter which will draw on wider national work currently being prepared. However, we have reached one clear decision already. The Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday will need to happen differently to avoid drawing everyone together.  While the Eucharist in a simplified form will still take place, we ask all of you not to come to the Cathedral but to keep the time in your diary and expect to join in remotely with a live-streamed version from the Feretory. It is simply unwise to gather all the clergy together in one place and run the risk that all might have to self-isolate for the same period afterwards. So we will celebrate together but scattered across the Diocese. The full arrangements will follow including how we will distribute oils to you all. For the moment please do not ask any questions about the details whilst we work on them. But do hold the time and date firmly in your diary. 

Later in the week, we will have further details about other events and services once the national work is also complete. 
Once again huge thanks for all you are doing. It is an honour to serve you as bishops. Keep looking to the Lord for wisdom. Keep worshipping, praying and serving. 
May the Lord be our strength and our song
 
In Christ’s amazing fellowship
+Paul & +Sarah