As some of you will have seen in the news and on our own church’s online presences on facebook, twitter, instagram and our website the Archbishop of Canterbury has authorised the closure of all Church of England churches for all public worship during the Covid-19 outbreak. I have therefore cancelled all meetings, events and services at St Mary’s, East Barnet, until the best advice permits us to enjoy them again in safety. Our friends at other churches will be doing the same, and this is already true for all the churches within our ecumenical partnership with Barnet Brookside Methodist Church.
Instead of meeting in our church building for worship, I hope we will continue to pray, study and enjoy our faith in our homes, and to support other members of our community while observing the best advice on self-isolation or social distancing. I am observing this advice myself, but hope you will still email me or call the vicarage on 020 8440 3231 immediately if you have an urgent or acute pastoral need. In less serious circumstances you can also email the pastoral team or call Val on 020 8368 9380. Our Churchwardens are also available, and you can call Chris on 020 8449 2285, Roger on 020 8449 2283, or get in touch with Margaret in the parish office.
I would also like to invite you to join a befriending service, so that you can exchange phone calls with other members of the church and people locally who might benefit from this kind of contact. If you are interested in this opportunity to reach out to others and hear from them in turn, then please get in touch or if you cannot email that dedicated address, then call the parish office on 020 8441 4401.
I would like learn how the church can best support you during this worrying time, and if you are able to fill in this free survey, it will help me to know what resources to design and distribute to support our community.
Spiritual resources for adults
You can download and print a simple daily prayer booklet or the Church of England’s Daily Prayer app to say Morning, Evening and Night prayer on your mobile device. You can find the lectionary readings that many churches follow each day here or on the Daily Prayer App. And I have started to work out how to record services of daily prayer from St Mary’s or the vicarage that you might like to pray along to using these resources. Of course I will continue to pray for you and the parish in that way as often as I can. If you would like to hear a service with a more accomplished musical element, you are able to listen to the entire archive of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3.
You can also watch talks from St Paul’s Cathedral and in the future I hope to make copies of special Easter services which you can use at home and do a recording or written reflection on each week’s lectionary readings.
To lift your spirits more generally, you might also like to listen to a free concert, watch an engaging science lecture series, read a poem or read a novel about the misbehaviour of clergy in a (fictional) Church of England diocese, written by a novelist who happens to be married to the (non-fictional) Bishop of Sheffield.
Spiritual resources for children and young people
You can download and print a booklet of prayers at home for children and young people. This reflects the way that I lead collective worship at St Mary’s School, so will be familiar to lots of you. Mrs Adams, Mrs Constantinou and I are exploring whether I can provide regular support to our school’s programme of RE and collective worship while it is closed, and some other headteachers in the area may also be making use of the same material.
You can also download and print all the colouring sheets Margaret has made over the last few years for the children’s area in church; enjoy a Godly Play story about Moses which Margaret Pritchard-Houston, the diocesan children and young people’s missioner, has recorded; hold your own Messy Church at home or enjoy the science lectures linked to above.
I hope all of you will consider being part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative to light a candle and pray for those suffering from Covid-19 and their healing this Sunday.
Please check the NHS website on a regular basis for advice from the British Government about measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and health advice, should you be vulnerable or develop symptoms. And if you wish to see reputable analysis of the way the disease is spreading through the world, then the World Health Organisation offers further guidance and updates.
More locally, Matthew has completed editing the East Barnet Herald, and you can download a special preview copy now. You can also view old copies of the Herald whenever you like. If you might be able to deliver new copies of the Herald when they have been printed, while staying at an appropriate distance from the doors of the houses you visit, then please contact Matthew.
If you normally donate money toward the church and its work in the parish of East Barnet using the collection bags, or if you would like to contribute to our work in the area, then you might want to consider joining the Parish Giving Scheme on a ongoing basis to help to restore some financial stability to the church accounts. For a confidential discussion about the Parish Giving Scheme or Giftaid, please contact Heather on 020 8449 2283.
If you would like to contribute to any sharing of information or church activity during this period, please contact the parish office.
Let us seek to support, pray and care for each other; whether in church or at home; whether ill or afraid; so that our community responds with grace and charity to this attack on our health and welfare.
The Revd Dr Alec Corio
Rector of East Barnet