Corona Virus Update
Dated December 28th 2020
The full video update from Pete and Nicki regarding plans for Skylark Church Services in 2021 in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can be found here. Continue to read below for the written transcript from Pete Sims.
Hi, everyone. Well, it’s the 28th of December and I hope that you have had a good Christmas. It’s been very different hasn’t it? And I know for some of us it’s been so painful. Well done for making it through to the end of the year. It’s been a really tough and challenging year hasn’t it. Can you believe it was back in July that I made the announcement on a similar video to say that we wouldn’t be gathering together on a Sunday morning until the end of the calendar year at least?
Well, the end of the calendar year is here. It seemed such a long way off when I said it but the time has flown by and 2021 begins in just three days time. The landscape has changed significantly in the last few days. Tier 4, with all of the new restrictions. A spike in the virus and particularly in the Southeast, much more contagious. We’re having to be so careful. And that, at a time when we have heard so many times the NHS is under pressure because of winter and will be for at least the next couple of months. Therefore we have made the unsurprising decision that as we enter 2021 we will continue with Sunday Online rather than with gathering together.
I know this is hard to hear. I know it’s difficult. I know it may not be unexpected but we still long so much don’t we, to gather together but we can make it. Our top priority is to keep you safe. And one of the things we’ve learned during 2020 is that if we hold close to each other and hold close to God we can make it through. We’re so grateful that God gave us the vision of Jesus, To know him, to love him, to follow him and to share him and as we enter 2021 we are going to continue to cling tightly to him. We know the hope to which we hold. Thank you for praying for us during this year. It’s been a really difficult year to lead, both the church and the network. There have been so many unknowns, but we believe that God has given us wisdom just when we’ve needed it. He’s given us some discernment to see ahead and he’s given us courage to make some tough decisions and lots of that is down to you and your faithfulness in praying for me and Nicki. So, please continue to do that as we step into the another uncertain year. We can know that if we hold onto each other and hold tightly to our beautiful Jesus we can make it. One final thing to add is that we will of course review the situation regularly. We’ll be looking at the news, the figures, the government guidelines for places of worship and as soon as we believe that it is safe and right for us to gather again, then that’s what we will do.
But in the meantime continue to join us with Sunday online and stay safe.
We can’t wait to see you again as soon as possible.
Dated July 10th 2020
The full video update from Pete and Nicki regarding ongoing plans for Skylark Church services during the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. Continue to read below for the written transcript:
We realise that this has been an exceptionally challenging time for so many and we know just how much people are missing the Skylark family and our gathered times together. We miss you all immensely. Whilst praying over the church recently, we were reminded of a message that Nicki gave back at the beginning of February entitled “Into the Unknown”. As we listened to it again, it encouraged us that although none of us may have understood the change and challenge that 2020 would bring, God knew and was preparing us in advance to walk forward into an unknown, uncertain and uncomfortable future.
You may well be aware that on June 29th the UK Government published advice on the reopening of places of worship from July 4th, with significant changes being required in order to ensure the ongoing safety of all attending, as well as limiting the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
Over the last two weeks we have been through all the published guidance in order to try and understand what returning to Skylark Church on a Sunday could look like. As always, the safety of our church family, staff and volunteers is of paramount importance to us and we have tried to balance the desire for us all to return to meet together with the very real ongoing risks that coronavirus poses and the required restrictions in order to help mitigate those risks.
Given both the level of restrictions and the size of the church, we have taken the decision that we will not be returning to Sunday morning services at Skylark Church for the rest of this calendar year. We will review this further as the new year approaches. This has been a hugely difficult decision to make as we have weighed up the spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing of our church family alongside the realities of the health and safety requirements that would impact returning to church at this time. Let’s outline some of the guidelines that have shaped our thinking:
- Gathering limits are in place and we need to consider not only the number of people we can fit within the church auditorium at the required two-meter distance, but also ensuring that everyone can safely travel to, enter and exit the building without risking further infection. This would drastically limit the number of people able to attend.
- All households would be required to remain the minimum two meters from one another within the building at all times.
- There is to be no corporate singing within the church due to the increased risk of transmission from aerosols and droplets, even with the use of face coverings.
- Children would be required to remain seated and supervised by their parent or guardian with appropriate social distancing for the entire service. This currently makes it impossible for kids’ church or creche provision for families.
- The guidance stipulates that services should be completed in the shortest reasonable time and that no food or drink should be consumed. This means that conversation, coffee time and prayer ministry would not be able to take place before or after the service.
- It remains recommended that places of worship continue to stream or broadcast their events in order to avoid large gatherings such as our regular Sunday services.
As you can see from the above list, this would effectively reduce our Sunday gathering to a small number of people sitting to listen to a sermon and some prayers in the auditorium, which we are all currently able to do from our own homes. Having chatted with our trustees and with our leadership team, we feel it is the right course of action to hold off from gathering on a Sunday morning rather than rush back to our gathering with the current constraints that are in place.
As ever, our priority for the church family remains to keep us connected to God and to one another. It is more important than ever that we continue to press in and to pull together, to support and equip one another as we enter this next phase of what church looks like in these unprecedented times.
To this end, we are excited to announce some additions and some changes over the coming weeks to help facilitate and encourage this:-
- We plan to enhance our Sunday Online gatherings, looking to add a greater breadth of voices from across the church family, as well as incorporating sung worship from the team and other components from our Sunday gatherings such as communion. We will also look to “premiere “on social media so that we can watch together and engage with one another using the live-chat feature.
- Smaller groups have always been essential to the health and discipleship of the church. At a time where we are still not able to gather on a Sunday, the need for life groups is more vital than ever. We are committed to identifying and training up more life group leaders to ensure that everyone who wants to be in a life group can be integrated into one, both online and in homes as lockdown continues to ease.
- We will encourage everyone in the family to identify two “running buddies”, people that we can share our life and faith journey with on a regular basis, meeting up for mutual encouragement, prayer and accountability, whether that’s over a coffee, on a socially distanced walk or a hangout in the park.
- We will continue to explore and plan for the possibility of opening the building for smaller, one-off events or gatherings in the coming weeks and months. More details to follow.
We cannot wait for the day when we can all be together as a family – what a celebration that will be! More than a gathering. More than a building. We are the church. Our God is on the move and doing some amazing things. We are so encouraged by the way that we have all responded to these times and our prayer is that when we can finally be all together, our faith would be stronger and more resilient than ever.
Love you guys,
Pete and Nicki
Dated 17 March 2020
As you will be aware, the government has introduced stricter measures with immediate effect when it comes to social distancing, travel and gatherings in order to flatten the peak of the coronavirus and protect those most at risk in our society. We have been planning and preparing for this moment for a couple of weeks and want to reassure you that, as your leaders, our top priority is to help everyone remain as safe, connected and well cared for as possible.
- On Sunday mornings we will now gather digitally instead of physically. At 10am when we would usually meet together, we will post up “Skylark Sundays” online to continue to envision, equip and encourage you to live out your faith in these extraordinary times. These can be accessed via our website or Facebook page, and we will also email a link out via ChurchSuite for those who would prefer to access it in this way. Sunday messages will also be available on our podcast as usual.
- From Monday onwards, we will also send out, via the above channels, a daily soundbite of inspiration and hope, designed to lift our spirits and to lift our gaze off all the uncertainty around us and onto Jesus. We hope this will be a blessing!
- Any life groups, smaller meetings, gatherings and events that we hold throughout the week will not be taking place in the usual way. Where possible, life groups and some other smaller gatherings will harness technology to continue to connect, pray and care for one another.
- We will endeavour to ensure that you are cared for during this period of time and would ask if you could help us with this by connecting one to another as often as you are able and by thinking of those in our church family who could be most isolated or vulnerable. It’s going to be important that we proactively care for each other rather than relying on a centralised pastoral “system” to meet our needs. To truly be the church, we each need to take ownership for loving others well within the church family and beyond into our community. Who could you text or phone that might need a friend?
- We have asked our staff team to work from home wherever possible and will be redefining job descriptions on a temporary basis to have “all hands on deck” when it comes to helping meet practical and prayer needs across the church.
- We will put together a Spotify playlist and a YouTube playlist for you to enjoy, so that we can all worship at home with some of the songs that have uplifted and impacted us so strongly in our recent Sunday gatherings.
ADDRESS | 4 Hanbury Road CM1 3AE
TEL | +44 (0)1245 255 775
EMAIL | firstname.lastname@example.org