On 17 March the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, Reverend John Proctor, published a letter on the URC website about the current coronavirus situation, in which he said:
‘Many of our churches have already suspended all acts of worship, physical meetings, and other church activities, probably for some weeks, or even months. While this is profoundly sad, we think it is a proper response to the Government’s guidance, and it is a policy that we strongly encourage every church to consider.’
We as Elders of The Vale Church have followed that advice to consider suspending public worship and have agreed that this is the only sensible course of action at this time, and therefore that with immediate effect no public worship will take place at The Vale until further notice. We have come to this decision with great sadness – but recognising that we face an unprecedented threat to public health and that the most vulnerable groups include many of our church family and indeed of our regular worship leaders.
There are more decisions to be made and implications to be considered, which the Elders will be addressing as a matter of urgency in the coming days, but we felt it important to make you all aware of this core decision as soon as possible.
Alongside the sadness, however, we should look upon this as a time of change and as an opportunity to live out our faith in different ways. In these circumstances it’s more important than ever that we look out for one another, keep in touch and – most importantly – continue to pray for our church family and have faith that God will bring us through this crisis in His time, however long that may be.
As an immediate response to the cessation of worship, the URC will be making full services available as a podcast through its Daily Devotions website, the first from 10:00am on 22 March – Mothering Sunday. This can be accessed through the main URC website (www.urc.org.uk), which also lists those churches that will be offering live streamed services and a range of other resources to help us maintain the conduct of worship, albeit in a different way. It has also been announced that BBC radio will broadcast an act of worship on Sunday mornings from the same date at 8:00am.
We will keep you informed as further decisions are made, both in the immediate future and as the situation develops as it clearly will over the coming weeks and months. Please do stay in touch with us – as we will with you.
We may not see you in person for some time to come, but do please be assured that you are all in our prayers, and that we will do our best to guide The Vale Church and its affairs safely through these challenging times.
With love in Christ
The Elders of The Vale Church