Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Tuesday was one year exactly when we went into lockdown. We marked this as a nation with a National Day of Reflection. It was moving to see so many of you engaged in a variety of activities.
Please remember to pray for, and support, those in your community who are grieving. Loss and Hope, is a coalition of Christian organisations seeking to help the Church support the bereaved, equipping churches across the UK to run The Bereavement Journey. If you haven’t done so already, why not sign-up to The Bereavement Journey or click the link to find out more.
A picture from St Catherine’s Church, Hatcham, was featured in The Guardian newspaper in an article about the day: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/23/minutes-silence-for-uks-covid-dead-marks-year-since-first-lockdown
Government guidance on singing has been updated today. Read it here
From 28 March
Indoors: – small groups of singers will be allowed to perform, or rehearse for performance, only where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible, with social distancing being maintained at all times. Communal singing should not take place.
Outdoors, in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship: When communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow social distancing rules. Social contact limits apply, meaning that households, support bubbles or groups of two must not mingle. Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place.
From 29 March
Indoors: guidance and rules remain the same as from 28 March
Outdoors, in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship: when communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. New social contact limits apply.
For further information, including guidance on singing in other settings or outside of communal worship, please refer to the performing arts guidance.
Holy Week and Easter Liturgy
The Bishop’s Advisory Group for Liturgy has compiled a range of resources that parishes can use to pray through the Stations of the Cross together online. They come in different formats and styles, so most parishes will find something that suits their needs. The resources can be explored here. As well as some more traditional sets in PowerPoint, and some YouTube videos, they include a virtual journey through the streets of Jerusalem in Prezi format, and a set of “Creation Stations” prompting reflection on environmental issues. There are also resources designed especially for children.
After Easter, our Archdeacons are once again offering a series of online services. We very much hope these will be of assistance to parishes as an additional resource especially where ministry teams – lay and ordained – are taking post Easter breaks which we strongly encourage everyone to factor in.
The services, for the six Sundays from 11 April to 16 May, will be streamed in full each Sunday on our Diocesan YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/southwarkdiocese) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SouthwarkCofE) platforms and available to re-watch, so please feel free to direct members of your congregation to either of those places. The Archdeacons will also make the elements of these services available to you to download and make use of in your own Online Worship Service, if that’s something that you’re in a position to offer.
You might have seen some misleading reports in the media that some migrants, such as those here illegally, without documentation or with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This is not true. We have had assurances directly from Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State for Communities (full details below), that:
- no immigration checks will be carried out on those coming forward for a vaccine
- no personal data will be shared outside the NHS as a result of someone having a vaccine or treatment related to a vaccine or coronavirus
- you do not need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to be vaccinated or to make arrangements for the second vaccine.
Please take every opportunity to encourage people you know in this position to come forward for vaccination, both for their own health and that of the community.
Note from Lord Greenhalgh:
I have worked with faith communities throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, most recently our discussions and efforts have focused on how we can collectively support people to access the vaccine – in particular undocumented people.
The vaccine will be offered and made available to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of their immigration status and no immigration checks will be carried out. If you are registered with a GP surgery, you will be invited by the NHS when the vaccine becomes available to your cohort. However, you do not need to be registered at a GP surgery or have an NHS number to receive the vaccine. You should never be denied on this basis. This requirement is consistent across all permanent vaccine sites, pop up sites and the roving model.
Community Pharmacies, Primary Care Network (PCN) vaccination hubs, pop-up sites, outreach and roving models of vaccine delivery will be able to offer help to those who are undocumented. They are able to either; register someone with a GP at point of care; or record the vaccine on paper and agree with the individual what the follow-up arrangements for the second vaccination. I recommend that you contact your local Director of Public Health or Local Authority who can provide locations of vaccination centres.
My officials are also working closely with partners and external organisations to share this message.
The Department for Health and Social Care have made clear to NHS trusts that patients known to be undergoing vaccination, testing and treatment for coronavirus or possible reaction to the vaccine are not subject to immigration status checks. No personal information will be shared outside of the NHS if a person takes the vaccine.
I want to encourage all those concerns about coming forward to the vaccine due to their status and to stress the importance of taking the vaccine for their own health and that of their community.
Bishop’s Lent Call and Vaccinations
The Bishop’s Lent Call continues. Food poverty across our nation and Diocese is a serious problem. Food insecurity in our link Dioceses of Zimbabwe is also a major issue. Please consider giving a Thank Offering, when you have your vaccine, to the Lent Call. Money raised will be going to projects tackling food poverty in our Diocese and food insecurity in our link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and Jerusalem. Please also encourage others to do the same. To give, click here. Thank you for your generosity.
The Revd Carol Bates led a team from the Woolwich MEACC in a rap written, initially as a poem, by Revd Timon Singh. Watch this fun video with an important message here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB-Afqc8vHA
We assure you of our prayers and good wishes for Holy Week and Easter.
The Coronavirus Task Group
(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and Sophia Jones)