18th March 2020
Dear brethren and friends, I am writing to keep you up to date with the latest developments in light of the current Corona-virus outbreak. Ray and I met earlier this week to decide on how to respond to the Government announcement made on Monday 16th March. As you will have heard, the Prime Minister has asked people to avoid social gatherings whether in large or small groups; and for those who are over 70 to self isolate from this coming weekend, for up to 3 months. These are drastic measures in what looks like being difficult times. As elders of the church, we both came to the same conclusion that we should comply with the Government request and close all meetings of the Church, including Sunday worship, until further notice. For all of us we appreciate that this is something almost if not entirely unheard of before.
However since this does not represent any note of persecution or oppression against our Faith we do not see any reason to not follow the advice given. The closure is both for the public good, and public health, even if as yet we see no evident signs of the virus in our midst. We do not take this decision lightly.
Our preference would be to meet for worship as we have always done in accordance with the scripture. But it behoves us to act in compliance with the authorities God has placed over us in this instance. We feel that it would not be a good witness if those around us comply and we refuse or ignore what the Government have advised.
There are also a significant number of our congregation who are in the vulnerable age range regarding the effects of the virus. We need to be mindful of one another, and avoid being a possible centre for infection. We cannot meet in good conscience knowing that there is a possibility of spreading the virus, this would be to act against biblical principles regarding our duty of care.
We would encourage you to observe the Lords day at home knowing where two or three are gathered, the Lord is present. Many of our brethren around the world can only meet in private and in secret, for whom any public meeting is impossible; so this is nothing strange although it may be new to us.
Finally, in the meantime it is hoped that some on going ministry can be provided via our website [www.ashtonbaptist.uk]. This will be in the form of a short reading, message and prayer two or three times weekly. We will give further details about this in due course. Let me encourage you all to please remember one another in prayer, and keep in contact by phone or other means, so that we can help each other in these very different and unusual days. Most folk have family nearby, but for some who do not, a friendly phone call or text will be a welcome contact. If you need help do not hesitate to contact myself or Ray. Stay safe and put all confidence in our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. God willing this will be a temporary interruption to our normal way of working.
Please contact us using our contact form (click here) with any queries.
Yours in Christ Jesus Andrew & Ray