Since the last Bright Lights letter in June there has been much change in our circumstances, and even in the short time since our last email/letter in August there has again been even more change – schools back, easing of various restrictions, local lockdowns in parts of the country, unprecedented storms…the list could go on.
So, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I need to write to you and communicate another update to our plans for our on-going life as a church family. In August, I wrote that the elders had made the decision not to open the sanctuary for worship and at the time that made a lot of sense. Nevertheless, since then we have been told that if we do not open after the 23rd September then our insurance premiums will triple in cost – which would bring a monthly increase of around £600. As such, the trustees have had to review the situation and have agreed to an amended plan.
On Thursday 17th September, the sanctuary will open for private prayer from 10.00 am for 30 minutes only and then will be open each month afterwards on the first Thursday of the month for private prayer from 10.00-10.30 am. There will be a maximum permitted attendance of around 40 people and anyone wishing to attend will need to book in advance. All who do attend will be required to wear a face mask, sit 2 metres apart from other households, and stay for the full 30 minutes. There will be no singing and you will not be allowed to choose where to sit, as this will be allocated on the basis of when you arrive; neither will you be able to “mingle” afterwards. Further health and safety arrangements will be in place upon arrival, for example hand sanitiser, leaving your contact details, etc and these will be explained to you at that time. I realise that this list of “to do’s” is not very appealing, but if you wish to take up this opportunity, then please book your attendance by calling the church office (01324 713855) and leaving a message or emailing email@example.com.
Additionally, I need to let you know that the Church of Scotland has crafted a “risk assessment tool” to help everyone evaluate whether they should attend worship, or if the risks may be too great. A copy of this document is included, and we would ask everyone to read this in weighing up whether to attend or not.
As I say, this list of requirements is not particularly attractive, but the plan allows us to meet the requirements of the insurance company whilst minimising risk, and at the same time make the most of an opportunity presented to us: space for prayer, whilst maintaining the wider pattern of worship available through our YouTube Channel, distribution of printed material for Sundays, as well as the “catch-up” CDs/DVDs and phone line with recordings of the latest service and other events. If you wish to know about any of these resources, then please do get in contact with us at the church office or the church email address (see above) or visit our website.
Whether you decide to take up this opportunity or not, please know that there is a wide church family here at Brightons that wishes to support you and journey with you in these difficult and uncertain days. If you need support, please do say – we have a group of folks willing to give pastoral support, whether it be picking up messages or giving a phone call. If you need spiritual input, then check out our YouTube channel or ask for back copies of recordings or printed resources. But please do not think that you have to muddle through on your own, for as the Apostle Paul said:
‘Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body…God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 24-27)
I know that many have experienced the on-going sense of being the body of Christ, the family of God, in this season and as time goes on, with restrictions continuing to limit the activities we can provide, it is crucial that we maintain diligence in looking out for one another – but also a humility and openness by reaching out when we need help.
Friends, it has been an honour to see how our church family has responded in love for one another in these days and the resilience and faith you have displayed. Truly, you have evidenced a character like the Philippian church, who shone ‘like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.’ (Philippians 2:15-16)
With love to one and all,