These are unprecedented times. After the Prime Minister’s announcement on 16 March 2020 in regards to the Coronavirus and the specific guidance that Matt Hancock the Health Secretary gave when he said “With the deepest regret and with the heaviest of Hearts we do include Faith groups and gatherings of faith within this advice” - we need to respond with peace, clarity, wisdom and responsibility.
We want to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, keep the fire burning, keep discipleship strong and keep loving our neighbours - it will just be in different ways to what we’ve been used to. God will work as powerfully, perhaps even more so in this next season as he has been doing. Because we need to to follow advice and minimise the risk for the most vulnerable in our church we deeply care for, and do all we can to combat the spread of this virus amongst our communities, will be closing down all gathered Open Heaven activities in this next season. But, we are still going to connect and care for each other in creative ways!
We will be encouraging household worship and live streaming OH1 and OH2 talks each Sunday through YouTube. The live stream will start at the same time as our normal corporate gatherings, and will allow space for worship, a talk and reflection. Live streams will start at 10:30 and 16:30 with talks starting at 11:00 and 17:00.
Currently we advise small groups to meet online rather than gathering together in one house. We'll be equipping small group leaders to help make this happen. We suggest using apps such as Facebook Messenger, Zoom or FreeConferenceCall.com.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
This crisis will create opportunities to love, care for and offer prayer to those who are ill or anxious. People all around us will be asking deeper questions than usual because everything that previously seemed secure is being shaken. There will be an increased openness to the gospel, so be bold in sharing your faith. In the year 251AD a plague decimated the great city of Carthage. In the book ‘Epidemics, Networks and the rise of Christianity’ it says “The minority Christian Community which did not flee but stayed to provide nursing had a higher survival rate than their pagan neighbours and the pagans who had been nursed through the crisis by Christians were likely to be open to a faith that, unlike their own, had worked.” Love your neighbour in practical ways. Here is a suggested note that all church members could put through the doors of their neighbours:
As the UK faces the impact of coronavirus, could we who live on xxxx provide some support for each other? If you want to be part of a WhatsApp group please contact me. That way we can shop, collect medicine or provide a listening ear for each other. Whether being in a group chat works for you or not, I wanted you to know that if you need anything, please feel free to contact me. It could simply be for a friendly chat on the phone or to buy and drop off some shopping that you need or provide a simple meal. I can leave shopping or food on your front door and ring you to let you know it's arrived. Your Name & Number
All children, young people and vulnerable adults have the right to live their lives to the fullest potential, to be protected, to have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy any activity, and to be treated with dignity and respect. Open Heaven takes safeguarding seriously, and we see it as an important strand of what we do so that we keep people protected and safeguarded whether that's through our different expressions and our ministry work. During this current season of change due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, our church community will be via online gatherings, discipleship and small groups. With emotional health being an area of concern during this time our safeguarding team will continue to be on hand to support the Open Heaven Church Community. If you have a concern please either contact Jess Pymm Safeguarding Coordinator or Izzy Lowings Safeguarding Lead via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For free confidential support and advice please also contact:
Based on government advice relating to COVID-19 the Open Heaven Church office is currently closed. All our staff are working from home and still available for calls and emails. Please be aware that all our staff work part-time and may not always be available. For general enquiries and support please email Izzy Lowings. Izzy works everyday 8:00-16:00 other than Wednesdays.