We’ve had to take the difficult decision to halt almost all of our chruch activities for the foreseeable future. Here’s the email we sent to the church family explaining what is happening…

Dear All,

This evening the elders and deacons met to discuss how we ought to respond to the announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon (Monday 16 March). While churches were not specifically addressed in the initial press conference, they were later addressed by Matt Hancock (Secretary for Health) in the House of Commons (see 1h40m18s of this video). The government advice is that church gatherings, both large and small, are included as “non-essential social contact” and should cease.

We want to honour God by submitting to the authorities He has placed over us and by loving and caring for the more vulnerable members of our church family. As a result, we have taken the difficult decision to stop our gatherings, both small and large, with immediate effect. The rest of this letter outlines specifically what will stop, what we will be doing instead and how you can be playing your part.

What will church stop doing?

With immediate effect we are stopping all the services and activities of Beccles Baptist Church. The only exception to this is our Foodbank Distribution Centre which will continue to run each Wednesday, 10:30am – 12:30pm. This will continue to run because it is anticipated that the need for the Foodbank will increase in the coming weeks meaning, for some people, it falls into the category of an essential ministry.

In addition to services and activities ceasing, the Pastoral Care team will now not regularly visit people in person, but rather be in regular contact via telephone and, if need arises and if appropriate, a personal visit will be carried out.

Following the advice given by the FIEC (The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) we are suspending all meetings and ministries for 5 weeks. We will then review this decision on a rolling monthly basis as the situation unfolds and government advice is updated. This means the elders and deacons will meet again on Tuesday 21 April.

What will church be doing?

We can split our activities for the coming weeks into ORGANISED and ORGANIC.

Organised activities

While we may not be able to meet physically, that doesn’t mean we are unable to meet virtually. Technology will enable us to livestream our services via our YouTube channel. Our intention is to livestream both our Sunday services at 10:30am and 6:30pm and our midweek prayer meeting on Thursday at 7:30pm. Our Sunday services will include announcements, prayers and a sermon. Our 10:30am sermon will be aimed at all ages. Our 6:30pm sermon will be a more typical adult sermon. The prayer meeting will include a brief talk from the Bible and then some items for prayer.

If you are unable to make the livestream of the services, fear not! The services will also be recorded and then hosted on our website and YouTube channel. If you’d like copies of our Sunday services as DVDs or CDs then please let Lynton Cooper know.

We will provide additional resources to help. For the Sunday morning we’ll produce a simple worksheet for the children to enable parents and carers to talk with them about what they’ve learned. This will be emailed out at the end of the week, probably on Friday ahead of the Sunday in question and will also be available to download here. For the prayer meeting we’ll produce a prayer sheet which will be emailed out on Thursday around midday. (If you’d appreciate hard copies of the prayer sheet, please get in touch with me, Tom (via the contact form).)

Organic activities

In addition to the more organised activities of the church, please can we encourage everyone to use the organic and informal opportunities to contact others via phone, messages, email or letter. There is no reason why we can’t keep encouraging one another even if we have had to stop meeting together physically (Hebrews 10:24-25). The place to start our pastoral care and support will be our Home Groups, but these don’t need to be the only arenas for caring for one another.

In addition, our Pastoral Care Team will be in regular contact with the more isolated and vulnerable folk in our church. If you are aware that someone is in particular need and you are concerned for them, please get in touch with a member of the Pastoral Care team (again please use the contact form).

How can you help?

There are a few ways in which your help would be appreciated:

  • Please pray for one another during the unique times we are in, above all that we’d look to the Lord to be our help and stay.
  • Please inform us if you are in particular need, so we can make sure we can care for you at this time. Please contact either your Home Group leader or a member of the Pastoral Care Team (contact details below).
  • Please love one another by regularly getting in touch with each other in the days and weeks ahead, as suggested above.
  • Please volunteer, if you are fit, able and willing, to serve in either or both of the following:
    • Buying and/or delivering shopping to people, as and when need arises, please let me (Tom) know.
    • As back-up for the Foodbank Team, should additional need arise, please let either me (Tom) or Kathy Young know (again please use the contact form).

Further information will be communicated with you in the coming days, including extra resources that you’ll find helpful. This comes with much love in our Lord Jesus to you all. Keep looking to him!

Tom Fenning (on behalf of the elders and deacons at Beccles Baptist Church)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

PS If you’re not yet following the church on Facebook or Twitter you might find these, in addition to our website, a helpful source of information in the days and weeks ahead.