To all clergy in the Diocese of Southwark, copied to Lay Ministers, Parish Secretaries, Churchwardens, Deanery Lay Chairs and Deanery Secretaries
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Glory to God in the highest
Christmas will be very different this year and, despite being moved to Tier 3, the good news is that our churches can remain open for regulated worship which will thankfully make it possible to celebrate Christmas – gathering together to do so physically or on-line. Whichever way you are coming together as church, we continue to advise that you do so responsibly and safely in adherence to the guidelines. Please continue to think of those who will be isolated or alone in your neighbourhood and appropriate ways of reaching out to them.
- Christmas Provision
Although restrictions will be lifted between 23 and 27 December, being in Tier 3 from 16 December imposes on us all the need to scrutinize any existing arrangements with great care. UP TO three households can form a bubble during this time but with vaccinations likely to be increasingly widely available in the New Year, it would be wise to consider levels of risk and the appropriateness of travel very carefully. We will endeavor to keep you abreast of the latest guidelines and regulations which are being constantly reassessed as the number of COVID cases continues to rise alarmingly. After nine months we must not lose sight of the reality that this virus can and does kill people so in everything we need to take care of others and take good care of ourselves.
We are extremely proud that, for the better part of a year, our churches have been managing and adapting to the various constant changes, including two lockdowns, with great imagination and ingenuity as safely as possible. Thank you!
There has been a lot of misinformation concerning COVID-19 vaccinations. Attached is a vaccines update from the Church of England which answers questions you may have. The overwhelming medical and scientific consensus is that these vaccines are safe, necessary and ethical and we would encourage you to share this information with your parishes and if you feel so minded to be an advocate encouraging people to come forward for vaccination when invited to do so. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/COVID%2019%20Vaccines%20update%20v1.0.pdf
There are some churches in the Diocese that are being used as Vaccination Centres, including St Mark’s Kennington, Holy Trinity Wallington and St Edward’s Mottingham. Others will doubtless emerge and Southwark Cathedral will be added to the list shortly too. Attached are guidelines, should you be thinking about doing the same. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/COVID%2019%20Churches%20as%20vaccination%20centres%20v1.0.pdf
Last week the Communications Department sent out a press release about the magnificent partnership work that churches in Croydon have been doing in ensuring that hundreds of people over 80 had vaccination appointments. Well done! Read the press release here: https://southwark.anglican.org/news/press-releases/2020/croydon-churches-identify-more-than-500-over-80s-for-covid-19-vaccination
- Here to support you
This has been a very challenging year for us all, demanding of energy and many are now tired. Please be reminded that pre-recorded video sermons are available should you want to use them while you take a well-earned break. Bishop Christopher has provided a video sermon for Advent 4 and the Archdeacons are taking responsibility for Christmastide in providing full services. We hope this gives you plenty of time to prepare and will also be a source of support as you plan periods of rest and time off after Christmas. They can be found here on our YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/SouthwarkDiocese
The Cathedral is also streaming Carol services so if there’s anyone that doesn’t have a service to go to, direct them to the Cathedral’s Eucharist which is at 11am on Sunday 20 December and the Carol Service later in the day which will be live streamed at 6pm. Click here for information about all their services https://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/worship-and-music/worship/live-service-stream/
The Cathedral has also produced an online carol service called Journey to Bethlehem in Southwark – an online carol service for the wider community watch it here: https://youtu.be/9jsccN-s1CA
For those feeling lonely, the Daily Hope helpline is on hand to offer support and if you are able to advertise it in your parishes that would be helpful.
- Support from Trinity House during the Christmas closure of the office, including Emergency Property information
Trinity House will be closed from 23 December and reopening on 5 January, but colleagues will be working throughout this period, other than on the Bank Holidays. Please continue to e-mail and please note the special provision for any property emergencies below.
If a serious emergency should arise when the Diocesan office is shut, the emergency contractors list is attached as an appendix and they should be approached directly. If the contractor is told that it is a property for which the Diocese is responsible, they will invoice the Diocese directly. If it is not a serious emergency, please call the Property Services Department after the holiday period or email firstname.lastname@example.org