Responding faithfully during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

As we navigate these strange days and seek to respond carefully and courageously to the dangers posed by the Coronavirus, our churches have a key part to play. Although we cannot, for now, ‘go to church’, we can develop new patterns and rhythms that ensure we are ‘being church’, and in so doing fulfilling  Our Calling. That calling remains to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission.  We do this through, worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism.

I am confident that across our District we have such great faith, creativity, wisdom and imagination that we will be able to find new and rich models of being church. A key challenge is for us to find new ways to fulfil the Great Commandments of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

Through this page let us share resources and keep in touch as we continue to faithfully serve God. 
Revd Leslie Newton – Chair of District

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District News

DISTRICT OFFICE
During this time our District Administrator is working from home, so if you need to contact the District Office, please call our District Admin, Siân, directly on 07809 431871 for the time being – Don’t ring the office phone, as you won’t reach us, but use the mobile number provided above. All other contacts remain the same.

PRESBYTERAL SYNOD
In the light of the recently updated Government advice, and in common with other Districts across the Connexion, our Presbyteral Synod called for Thursday 19th March 2020 will not meet. We have taken the decision to cancel the Presbyteral Session of Synod on Thursday and all Presbyters will be informed personally as soon as possible. The District will continue to liaise with Circuits to offer support and coordinate ways in which we can continue to be ‘salt and light’ in our communities in these uncertain days.

REPRESENTATIVE SYNOD – April 25th 2020 
We are sorry to inform you that the Conference Office has agreed that all spring Representative Synods that have not yet been held should now not take place, due to the necessary restrictions in place. Of course, the main theme for these Synods would have been the resolutions contained in the ‘God in Love Unites Us’ report. Although it is uncertain when we will begin to return to normality, it is important to be clear that the Methodist Church will ensure that there is proper opportunity for all the District Synods to confer and register their decisions before any decisions are made by the Methodist Conference (whenever it turns out that the Conference next meets).

In the light of Presbyteral Synod being cancelled, Leslie Newton, Chair of District read the liturgy that Presbyters use each year to renew their commitment, and shares a short message. This was live on Facebook at 11:00am on Thursday 19th March – but you can catch up with it below:

Transcript of Leslie’s message: When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord” they replied.  Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”  John 11: 32-37
I’ve been reflecting on the impact of these last few days for us all.  I’m coming to realise more and more forcefully that we need to recognise the suspension of worship and church activities, as something akin to a bereavement.  Of course, the suspension is only temporary, and some form of normality will be re-established in due course.  But nonetheless, the sudden loss of not being able to meet up as normal, the loss of our precious places and means of spiritual nourishment and care, is deeply significant.
So far, I’ve been busy encouraging us all to rise to the challenge of ‘being church’ in new ways when we cannot, for now ‘go to’ church.’  Thank you for all that you’re doing to find new ways to connect the body, and to serve the world.  It’s so important that we continue to fulfil Our Calling and to obey the Great Commandments.
But…. it is only day 3.  And, as I say, I reflect that perhaps I haven’t yet given enough attention to just needing to recognise the painfulness of loss from the usual patterns of connecting and relating.  We need to come to terms with this loss.  To sit with it, and to allow our future paths to be shaped in the light (or perhaps I should say darkness) of this loss.
In the verses leading up to our reading from John 11, Jesus had already assured Martha that Lazarus would rise again. Nevertheless, in these few verses, we see Jesus pausing, being ‘deeply moved in spirit and troubled’ and then….weeping.
However temporary these days may be, we must still face the pain of the loss: the sense of bereavement and grief.
So, on this day when Presbyters should have now been gathered in Acomb to share together as partners in ministry, it’s right that we pause to take seriously this sense of loss; the loss being felt by many in our churches and communities.  Albeit temporary; but nonetheless real.  To be acknowledged, lived with and gently worked through.
Time enough yet for creativity and imagination – and the more the better!   For our communities are still only beginning to see all kinds of loss and worry and pain.  And we are called to be ‘salt and light’, ‘grace and truth’, ‘love and more love.’  The world needs our loving service and faithfulness.
But for now, humbly we pause – apart and yet together – before God, our hearts deeply moved and troubled.  And we pray for God’s grace to sustain us in our loss, and to help us walk sensitively and gently the path of our Lord Jesus, the path of self-giving suffering, the only way that leads to new life and new hope for us and for the world.

Methodist Guidance

See the latest guidance from the Methodist Church here: 
www.methodist.org.uk/coronavirus 

Updated 24 March 10:00
The Methodist Church is announcing a closure of all its churches for the foreseeable future. The only exception will be for churches that are offering essential social outreach such as foodbanks, soup kitchens and night shelters, but these must be carried out closely within Government guidelines. The Methodist Church suspended worship services last week with some churches still opening for quiet prayer and reflection. This must now also be suspended. We would encourage people to use our online resources at home which include downloadable services and links to online worship services.

The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Conference said: “We are asking people to change their way of ‘going to church’ to help to protect themselves and others. We have put in place measures that will enable Methodists still to be part of the worshipping community, whilst for everyone’s sake staying away from church buildings. There is a range of resources available for people to use at home which we hope will help them to continue their cycle of prayer and worship. The Methodist Church is more than its buildings and if in these unprecedented times we can continue our life as Methodists without using our buildings we will help to reduce the chances of transmission of the virus.”

Methodist Resources:

Info for those in active ministry in the Methodist Church – www.methodist.org.uk/signpostforministry
Professor Clive Marsh reflects on where God is during the coronavirus pandemic – click here
A way to deal with anxiety, whether you believe in God or not. By Trey Hall – click here
Methodist Love Feast, how to hold a love feast online – click here

Methodist Coronavirus Page (includes all resources) – www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/coronavirus

Prayers & Encouragement

Prayer from the Methodist Church
God of all hope we call on you today.
We pray for those who are living in fear:
Fear of illness, fear for loved ones, fear of others’ reactions to them.
May your Spirit give us a sense of calmness and peace.

We pray for your Church in this time of uncertainty.
For those people who are worried about attending worship.
For those needing to make decisions in order to care for others.
For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Grant us your wisdom

Holy God, we remember that you have promised that
Nothing will separate us from your love – demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.
Help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you.
Amen

Hymn: When life is shaken to its core

When life is shaken to its core,
when clouds and storms arrive,
we find it difficult to know
God present in our lives.
Yet there’s no misery or grief,
pain, doubt, or emptiness,
that is not known by the divine
and filled with tenderness.

When we are tempted to give up,
when life is cold and grey,
where is the God of hope and joy,
can peace replace dismay?
God, in the centre of our pain,
makes of our dark a tent,
a holy place of tearfulness
as life splits and fragments.

We need to learn to trust and know
God in our lives, God here
hidden within the clouds and storms,
one with our doubts and fears.
This is our peace: that in the depths
of life’s adversities
we find a suff’ring God, who shares
all its cruel miseries.

© Andrew Brown (District Property Secretary and Local Preacher in the Nidd Valley) – November 2019

Inspired by Psalm 18 v11 (Nicholas King translation) and as a counter to the idea that God always brings light.
86 86 86 86 (DCM)
Possible tune – Vox Dilecti (H&P 136)

A message of thanks and support from the Methodist Church

Dear Friends,
We in the Connexional Team are working hard to support you all in Mission and Ministry to fulfil your calling. We wanted to say how grateful we are for the way you have responded to the challenges of these current times. We have seen so many of you going the extra mile in producing web based worship, in sharing resources, and in building one another up. This last Sunday we saw hundreds of examples across the Connexion of true connexionalism and we are so encouraged. This will be a marathon and not a sprint, we are committed to serving you as you serve the world, take care of yourselves and please feel free to make contact if we can offer more, or you spot gaps that you might have ideas on filling.  Thank you.

Jude Levermore Head of Mission and Paul Wood Interim Director of the Ministries Team

Ideas and Resources

It is important for us to share creative and helpful ways of ‘being church’ in these days when we ‘don’t go to church.’ 

This section is for sharing and signposting practical ways in which we can encourage and mobilise good and innovative practice in these days. There are ideas for helping sustain worship and care for each other and our wider communities. In this environment hopefully we can encourage and mobilise our people to be keeping in regular contact with members and friends, and wherever possible ensuring that people have all that they need.  Pointing people to prayer and worship resources – online or in print. Our churches have the opportunity to be ’salt and light’ to our communities in how we offer support and hope.

If there are other good ideas that are emerging in your circuit or church which aren’t included here, it would be great to share them in our District Facebook Group here:
www.facebook.com/groups/YorkshireNorthandEastMethodists/

Signposting District Initiatives

Nidd Valley Morning Prayer (Facebook Livestream)
Running Monday to Saturday at 8am by the ministers in the Nidd Valley Circuit. Tune in on Facebook over on the Nidd Valley Ciruit Facebook Page (open to everyone!):
www.facebook.com/NiddValley

Nidd Valley Digital Bible Study (Facebook Group)
Open to those who are part of Nidd Valley Circuit we will be exploring scripture together, digging into context, and sharing virtual cuppas! (Bring your own mug… And its contents!) There’s not a “set time to meet” you can arrive and join in on your own schedule across the week.
www.facebook.com/groups/237487664048640

Keeping Mentally Healthy (Daily photos on Facebook)
It is just as important to look after our mental health as much as our physical health, as we combat the feels of loneliness, claustrophobia, isolation and anxiety. Over on the ‘Families in Haxby and Wigginton’ Facebook Page, Lorraine Jones (Family Ministry Coordinator at Haxby and Wigginton Methodist Church) is shares a short post every day sharing an idea to keep mentally healthy.
www.facebook.com/Families-in-Haxby-and-Wigginton-207595146278201

Weekly Online Story Time (video on Facebook)
Donald reads a story via video for our ‘Busy Bees’ and ‘Tots n Toys’ families (and anyone else who want to listen in) from Clifford Methodist Church and Boston Spa Methodist Church.
www.facebook.com/cliffordmethodists
www.facebook.com/bostonspamethodistchurch

Tea-Time Church “At Home” – family worship (video on Facebook)
Tea-Time Church at home is an online version of ‘Tea-Time Church’ that usually takes place at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon at Boston Spa Methodist Church
www.facebook.com/cliffordmethodists
www.facebook.com/bostonspamethodistchurch

Many of our Churches, Ministers and linked groups have also been uploading videos and livestreaming via Facebook and other platforms. We haven’t listed all these here, but many are availiable and signposted from our District Facebook group. 

Sunday Online Methodist Worship with Lydia
This is a collaborative effort between the York and Goole & Selby Circuit Children and Youth Teams – headed up by Lydia Harrison, Children and Family Work Enabler in the District. All are welcome. For info and links, join the Facebook Group or tune in on the Huntington Methodist Church website on a Sunday:
www.facebook.com/groups/SundayWorshipwithLydia
https://huntingtonmethodistchurch.co.uk/stream

Brough Methodist Online Toddler Group (Facebook Group)
Brough Methodist Church have taken their toddler group online. “Let’s Play at home” was set up to continue supporting families from the ‘Let’s Play’ and ‘Jolly Tots’ groups which are run by Karen, Church & Community Worker for Brough Methodist Church. It now has members from toddler groups all over the UK. Daily livestreamed singing and stories take place along side ideas for play and crafts. All welcome.
www.facebook.com/groups/letsplayathome

Goole and Selby Methodist Children and Families Blog
Lydia Harrison, the Children and Family Work Enabler for Goole and Selby Methodist Circuit, has started a new blog to hopefully inspire and uplift people at this time.
https://gscafwe.blogspot.com/

Daily Prayer Graphics
Rachael Carol has compiled a set of images with some of the prayers that have been written for our current crisis. These are published on “Anlaby Park Methodist Church with Selby Street Mission” church’s social media pages daily
www.facebook.com/apmchurch

If there are other initiatives emerging in your circuit or church which you’d like included here, please do let us know so we can add them and share with others. Contact: digital@yorkshirenemethodist.org Additionally, it would be great to share them in our District Facebook Group here:
www.facebook.com/groups/YorkshireNorthandEastMethodists/