Rev’d Paul and Nicci Boddam-Whetham

Dear Friends at St Bartholomew’s

As we continue to prepare for the reopening of the church building for congregational worship, I realise how important it is not to let the administration, planning and technology undermine our primary motive in worship which is to glorify God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism expresses it:  “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

How do we “enjoy God”? How do we share that enjoyment with our family. our friends and our neighbours? The first question seems very simple but has a complexity of answers, as many as there are Christians on the planet, for we each enjoy God in our own way in the manner of our prayer, our praise, our worship and our witness.

To address the second question, how excited and enthused are you as you share the joy, peace and encouragement you feel after a time fellowship together? As we have been meeting together through ZOOM over these last 3 months and more, has it been possible for God to be at the centre of our devotion, that we might glorify him in our worship and afterwards in our witness? Perhaps you have not been able to engage with God through those services, so my prayer is that you have been able to glorify God in your private prayer or solitary reflection, without the fellowship of other Christians who form God’s church here at St. Bartholomew’s.

Several of us meet for Morning Prayer from Monday to Saturday (and anyone is welcome to join on Zoom, using the normal codes!) and we are reminded several times as we read a psalm or recite a canticle together (a scriptural song) that we meet to give

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

We have received further advice from the Bishop yesterday to help us interpret the Government recommendations for opening churches in coming weeks. It has been made clear that we are under no immediate pressure to do so and we are only to offer congregational worship in a manner and at a time when we are confident of having appropriate procedures in place.

To achieve this, the Core Team is working with me to this outline timetable:

  1. Finalise technology requirements for transmitting individual ZOOM participation from church
  2. Agree preparation and management protocols for limited access to church, within safe distancing guidelines
  3. During July, conduct elements of worship from the church: perhaps include President, Musician, Reader, Intercessor.
  4. Invite some members who have been “phoning-in” to join as a test congregation, if willing.
  5. During August, we hope to be able to increase numbers attending.
  6. From September we plan to invite open attendance, if necessary on a rota basis, to respect capacity limits.

The Church Council will be reviewing proposals and agreeing the protocol as it develops and is refined from our experience through the first weeks of running test services.

Please bear with us as we seek both to glorify God in all we do and protect each one who will be attending St. Bartholomew’s either as a regular worshipper, for private prayer or as an occasional visitor in the coming months.

With my prayers for your safe-keeping and continuing trust in God.

Rev’d Paul Boddam-Whetham