Gatehouse Church Update –14th July 2020
- Continuing present online provision for the next couple of months.
- Starting a small group Sunday afternoon service at 2pm showing the online service.
- Two small Connect groups meeting in the church week commencing Sunday 2nd August.
- Church being prepared to be a Covid-safe environment.
- Please complete a brief survey to help us plan.
I hope you are doing well. I am writing to update you with regard to the Covid situation and our plans at the Gatehouse Church.
We continue to run our online services, online Alpha, online connect group and have our pastoral support team that are in contact with you all. These will all continue. Also, you can contact us via our website (www.elimblackpool.org.uk) or phone if you wish to contact me.
Recently, we formed a team to put together a risk assessment, to make sure that we are prepared as a Covid safe environment for the time when we open our doors. This has been reviewed and accepted by Elim and our next steps are to prepare the building to be ready.
We also have prepared a short (2 minutes), anonymous survey which we would like everyone to fill in (either online or with pen and paper). This will help us to gauge how people are doing spiritually and how they want to engage with our plans as we move forward. The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9Z9L3RH . Your pastoral support contact will be getting in touch with you to see if you have any problems accessing it or if you need a paper version.
We plan on taking our first steps to having people in the building by opening two small groups (no more than 15 people in each group) which will start on the week commencing Sunday 2nd August.
The first group will be on Sunday afternoon and will be an opportunity for people to watch the online service together at church. Those people that have difficulty in accessing the online service or who feel particularly isolated will be given priority in attending this group. The survey will show us how much demand there is for this group – so please make sure you fill it in and say if you would like to attend this group.
The second group is a pilot small group (up to 15 people) with a specific focus on bible reading, outreach and prayer. The aim of this group is to encourage one another to grow in their walk as a disciple of Jesus. It will follow a daily bible reading programme and everyone will commit to praying together with 2 other Christians at least once a week. This will be a real opportunity to grow in Christ and develop your impact for the sake of the Gospel. Please indicate in the survey if this is a type of group you would like to be part of. If there is big take-up, we plan on opening more groups.
In all of this, we are aware that things are changing all the time and we will do our best to adapt. Thank you for your patience and support. We believe that God has got something very special for the Gatehouse.
Yours in His service
Pastor Neville Walker and the leadership at the Gatehouse
Gatehouse Church Update – 23rd June 2020
These last few months have been a major adjustment for all of us and we have all been affected to a greater or lesser extent. I have been so proud of everyone at the Gatehouse, how you have been looking out for each other and reaching out to those around you and it has been a real blessing to see how God has met people’s needs through one another.
One of the things that has become the ‘new normal’ is waiting to hear the next change in regulations/guidance from the government as they seek to guide is through this crisis. Already, they have allowed churches to be open for private prayer (providing certain conditions are met) and it is anticipated that they may allow churches to open for worship services (maintaining social distancing) from July. Once that decision is made, Elim centrally, will inform us of when we are allowed to open.
However, given all that, we will still need to make our own plans at the Gatehouse. Paramount is our desire to honour God and as part of that it is vital to do all we can to make sure that people are safe. Also, we need to consider our regional situation, where apparently the R rate (rate of infection) is higher than in most other parts of the country. We also are considering the make-up of our congregation which has a high proportion of elderly and BAME people. With all of this in mind, we do not anticipate the Gatehouse Church opening for normal Sunday services within the next few weeks, but we will continue with the online services, the online Alpha and the video conferencing Connect Group.
In addition, we will be exploring the possibility of trialling one or two small groups that would meet in the church. We are in the process of thinking and praying about what these would look like, who would attend and what they would aim to achieve.
We would really appreciate your input as we seek to navigate through this next stage in this unprecedented situation. To that end, we plan on conducting a survey in the next couple of weeks, which we hope as many as possible will be able to fill in.
I want to thank a number of groups of people at this point. I have a prayer team supporting me and they have been an invaluable encouragement to me. The pastoral support team have been brilliant as they have been looking out for the people in their groups. It has been inspiring to see our frontline workers putting their lives on the line to serve our community. We are all so truly grateful.
I also want to thank another team of people which is our tech team, who have worked incredibly hard to learn new skills quickly and put out our online services, which have been such a blessing to us.
In all of this, we understand that most of us are itching to be back together again at church, but we ask for your patience and understanding in the process. We encourage you to continue to meet up to encourage one another, whether it is online, on the phone, meeting in parks or in ‘bubbles’ in such a way that keeps you safe by observing the government guidelines. Please be assured of our prayers and know that you are free to contact us if you have any questions, needs or feedback.