Bishop David McClay writes with new guidance to the diocese in the light of the Prime Minister’s broadcast last night, Monday 23 March.
Because of the announcements made by the Prime Minister during his special broadcast at 8.30 pm yesterday, it is now clear that I must ask all churches in the Diocese to put in place the following new guidelines.
Firstly, clergy will be immediately contacting any couples who are planning to be married in church within the next three weeks requiring them to postpone their wedding. I understand how difficult this will be for those who will have been planning their wedding day for months and perhaps even years.
I have also asked clergy to contact couples planning a wedding over the coming months as the Prime Minister has indicated that this ban could be extended beyond the three–week period and couples need to be made aware of this possibility.
Secondly, although we have been carefully managing to have churches open for prayer with no more than three people present in the building, this will now have to cease with immediate effect. I’d like to thank all those who have so carefully managed this over the past ten–day period.
Thirdly, last night’s announcements now require that when recording church services using any methods of social media and recording equipment, the number of persons involved at any one time must be limited to two.
Fourthly, I’m very conscious that the government’s new regulations have implications for how food stores/food banks in our Diocese operate. With immediate effect I request that food stores are manned by no more than two people and that a system is put in place so that food parcels may be collected in a manner that ensures that no more than two people are involved in the process. This may mean creative communication using mobile phones. I would appeal to people to continue more than ever to find a way to provide food for food stores, whilst food stores in turn find ways to facilitate this within the constraints of the new regulations.
There are other restrictions now in place that will again change the ways in which we will have recently been serving the needs of and looking after our parishioners and the people in our parish areas. Very soon I will, after more consultation, be in a position to also issue new and clearer guidance around funerals.
I’d ask that all of us in the Diocese adhere carefully to all the government’s guidelines. It is clear that the medical experts believe that these guidelines will provide the best method of greatly reducing the number of persons who will contract the coronavirus over the coming weeks and therefore the number of deaths. We continue to add to these restrictions and all our other methods of caring for people the incredible gift and privilege of prayer that is ours. I continue to point us towards the ‘Pray Hope Over Corona‘, prayer resource and other prayer resources including some that I have pointed you towards in earlier correspondence.
Let’s remember that, ‘The constant love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness.’ He truly is a good, good Father. Our circumstances may not be good, life may not always be good, but God is good, and that truth remains unchanged.
Yours and His,
Down and Dromore