Urgent update regarding COVID-19 – Church Services and Elim Summit

Because of the current crisis with the COVID – 19 virus we will be cancelling all of our meetings until further notice and encouraging everyone to stick to government guidelines – please see an extended message from Elim’s National Leadership Team below.

Although we are having to cancel our services for a season it does not mean that we won’t be fulfilling our role and commission as the Gatehouse Church and we will continue to pray, serve God, look after our Christian brothers and sisters and reach out to support our community. It will just look very different for a season.

Already we have set up a pastoral system so that all our regular attenders will have someone in church as a point of reference and who will be in contact with them regularly on the phone – so expect a call or text soon. This is to make sure that no one is left unsupported. If you aren’t contacted in the next few days and would like to be included, please leave a message on the church answer phone and we’ll get back to you within the day.– 01253 347521.

During this time we need to take the opportunity to pray and develop our own personal walk. We will be giving details of a national day of prayer this coming Sunday where Christians around the country can unite in prayer from their homes. We will also be preparing video messages online to provide Bible Teaching and encouragement – please ask your contact person if you need help in accessing these. We will also be providing resources to help you reach out to support your neighbours as appropriate.

The next two Sundays were going to be special building work offerings in additional to our normal tithes and offerings. We have decided to postpone these special offerings til a later date although if you have already set it aside we are happy to receive it. This is particularly as we are aware that some families may well experience financial strain over the coming weeks. We would, however, ask you to continue paying your regular tithes and offerings into the church as although we will not be having services, there will still be outgoings. The easiest way to do this is through our website via online card payments, text or bank transfer payment http://elimblackpool.org.uk/donate/#online . If these don’t work for you, please contact us.

More information will follow on a daily basis. This is a new situation for all of us and in some things we will be learning as we go, but what hasn’t changed is the fact the God is in charge, Jesus is our Saviour and that His Church is a vital part of this community as salt and light. As we pray, we will see the Spirit doing a great work in our lives, in the Church and in our community.

Best Wishes

Neville Walker

Pastor

The National Leadership Team are issuing the following advice in response to the spread of COVID-19 to bring clear and united response to the challenge of maintaining our ministry, worship and witness during this unprecedented national crisis.

In so doing, we wish to affirm our primary calling to be ministers of Christ and ambassadors of faith and hope in the midst of anxiety and fear.

We believe for the whole Christian community this is a ‘defining moment’ where it is vital that we are rooted in the life giving gospel, power and love of Jesus for all, and ready to reach out in what may be fresh and unfamiliar ways to all members of our community.

  1. CHURCH SERVICES AND GATHERINGS

As a result of the latest Government and Public Health advice regarding the COVID-19 crisis on Monday 16 March 2020, we are taking the decision to suspend all Elim Church services from and including this Sunday, 22 March until further notice.

We do not take this decision lightly but do so believing we have a public duty to act responsibly in terms of the duty of care to all members of the community.

The latest advice includes a Government ban on large gatherings and a call for “social distancing”.

Answering questions in the House on Monday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“with the deepest regret and the heaviest of hearts we do include faith groups within the advice”.

In seeking to interpret this advice, Elim, along with other Christian denominations, are aware of the many and varied types of ‘gathering’ that are a part of local church activity. In addition to public worship services, we therefore recommend the following actions:

Live streaming Services

The live streaming of a ‘virtual service’ can go ahead under controlled conditions with a limited “stage team” only and where there is no congregation present. If you are live streaming, please ensure you follow Public Health guidelines for hygiene, and social distancing.

Group Gatherings

The ‘social distancing’ advice coming from Government increasingly seeks to limit opportunities for the virus to spread even in smaller gatherings. In the light of this, we recommend that all ‘group’ gatherings are also suspended and that churches use this as an opportunity to “connect” via other means (e.g. Facebook Live, Zoom, Livestream).

Over the coming days we will be ensuring that information, advice and updates are available on our Elim website and ElimNET. We are working on a growing range of resources to support ministers and churches in the many practical challenges that will be faced in our local churches and communities. Please make use of these resources and contact us if you have particular questions/issues which are not being addressed.

We will continue to monitor and examine advice from the Government and Public Health bodies and will update our website, resources and advice as necessary.

  • ELIM LEADERS SUMMIT

It is increasingly unlikely that the Elim Leaders Summit in Harrogate from 12-14 May 2020 will be able to take place as planned.

Our Malvern team has been in close contact throughout with the Harrogate Conference Centre and hotels but it has now been confirmed that such events are included in public gathering restrictions for the foreseeable future.

We are already looking at alternative options for gathering Elim leaders later in the year and will keep you informed as the situation develops. However, we will at all times prioritise the safety of our leaders and delegates.

Please share this information with all those who would have been attending with you. Sarah Bale and our Admin team will be following up shortly with more practical details for all those booked into ELS2020 as delegates and exhibitors.

Other large national Elim events will be subject to similar review and we will update you accordingly as we go forward.

Many of the major denominations in the UK are calling for this Sunday (Mothering Sunday) to be a day of prayer and action, particularly considering those who are vulnerable, and our health and emergency services.

We recognise that, in the current season of great challenge and uncertainty, our priorities must be to bring care, support and hope to the people and communities we are called to serve. We are confident that if we walk closely with Jesus, He will lead and direct us to work with Him through this season.

Let us continue to pray, and unite our hearts together. The call to Christian ministry requires of us that we look beyond the immediate storm, finding strength, hope and faith in God. Yet, it also requires that we bring that ‘down the mountain’ to minister to people where they are.

Every blessing

Chris Cartwright

General Superintendent

Elim International Centre | De Walden Road | West Malvern | Worcestershire | WR14 4DF