Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pastoral Letters

09/07/2020

Dear Church Family,

We as elders are writing to you to convey a number of decisions we have made as office-bearers in light of the recent announcements from the Executive regarding the reopening of Church buildings for services.

We give thanks for God’s faithfulness and provision to us over the past number of months and I want to take this opportunity to thank my fellow elders and the deacons for their help in navigating the uncertain times of Lockdown. Particular thanks also needs to go to the Broadcast team and those looking after the CD distribution which has enabled our services to continue to the blessing of many.
The impact of COVID-19 has caused uncharted waters for many of us and the leadership would also like to thank those who formed a COVID-19 group who advised from their areas of expertise which was very helpful particularly in the lead up to Lockdown.
We also want to thank each of you for your understanding and support of us as a leadership during this crisis and have been encouraged by the many stories we have heard of you helping, encouraging and looking out for each other during this time.

After much consideration we have decided on a plan of action to navigate our way out of Lockdown. These decisions have been made in the knowledge that each of our members and adherents have specific circumstances and that there is a wide spectrum of views on when and how to recommence services. They have been made in the recognition of God’s sovereignty over all things and with the flexibility to change in line with any further relaxing or restricting of social distancing measures from the
Executive.

We are excited at the prospect of being able to gather again but want to convey a note of caution. Anyone who is shielding or is in a more at risk group – we would encourage you not to attend until you are advised by medical professionals/ feel it is safe for you to do so; please feel under no pressure from the opening of services to do something that is unwise for your personal circumstances.

We hope to begin Wednesday night meetings on 15/7/2020 in the main Church Building with social distancing measures in place and online provision continuing for those unable to physically attend at this time. These will continue indefinitely unless further restrictions come in.
Sunday Morning Services will commence in the main Church Building from 26/7/2020 with social distancing measures in place and online provision continuing for those unable to physically attend at this time. These will continue indefinitely unless further restrictions come in.
Sunday Evening Services will continue online only until a later date when we will think through how to recommence them in the Church building.
All services will begin at the usual time.

Social Distancing Measures
As office-bearers we want to take every precaution to protect those attending meetings and will be operating under 2m social distancing guidelines until advice from government changes. This means that only members of the same household or those in an allowed social bubble will be able to sit together with everyone else adhering to the 2m distance. Face masks have been recommended for indoor gatherings by the Executive but will not be made mandatory for Church services.
Wearing a face mask will be left up to individual choice.
* Please do not attend any Church meetings if you or anyone in your household is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or are within a quarantine period.

Entering the Building

  • In order to steward meetings effectively there will only be two entry points both at the front entrance to the main Church building.
  • We would ask those attending to be responsible and follow the 2m distance between households in the car park and while waiting to be shown into the building.
  • A steward will then direct households to one of the two entrances.
  • Please follow the social distancing markings on the floor to maintain social distancing in the Church hallway and thoroughly sanitise your hands using the electronic dispensers provided.
  • A steward will then instruct you when to follow them into the building and will show you/your household where to sit.
  • Everyone attending must sit where they are allocated by a steward; this is in order to fit the most people into the building safely.
  • The building will be filled up from the front back in that order.
  • Once seated please don’t leave your seat unless absolutely necessary.
  • There will be no provision for hanging up coats/hats/umbrellas in cloakrooms, please keep these with your person in your allocated seat.
  • The cushions will be removed from the pews but you are welcome to bring your own cushion and take it away with you again.
  • The balcony will be closed at this time.
  • We would ask if those attending could arrive for the service in good time in order to help the flow into the building and to allow for a prompt start to the service.
  • It is requested that households enter the building together and not arrive in separate groups.
  • We hope to be able to seat everyone but once we reach capacity that safely maintains social distancing no one else will be permitted entry into the main building. We are exploring an overflow in the Main Hall but this may not be in operation for a few weeks.

The Services

  • Wednesday nights will consist of a Bible study from the pulpit and a time of prayer.
  • Those wanting to pray will go to an allocated microphone in order to limit the raising of voices in the congregation to limit any aerosol risk.
  • The Bible study will be streamed online but the prayer time will not; prayer points will be provided as usual to those watching at home.
  • Sunday mornings will consist of a children’s talk, prayer, Bible reading, the preaching of the Word and the Lord’s Table.
  • We are exploring the use of soloists/small singing groups and the use of prerecorded singing but there will be no congregational singing at this time.
  • The entire service, including the Lord’s Table will aim to last no longer than 1 hour.
  • Unfortunately at this time there will be no pre-service prayer meetings but would encourage households to pray for the service in their cars before entering the building asking for the Lord’s help for the service.
  • There will not be a break before the Lord’s Table and we would ask those not partaking of the emblems to remain in their seats till the end of the service.
  • The Lord’s Table will be prepared by deacons using strict hygiene protocols and the individual pieces of the bread will be placed in a disposable cup and given out in similar fashion to how the cup with red juice is normally dispensed.
  • The cup with red juice will then be given out in normal fashion in a disposable cup.
  • We would ask where possible that those partaking of the emblems bring personal hand sanitiser and apply it thoroughly just before the emblems are given out.
  • The emblems will be placed in every other slot in the trays to cut down any risk of cross contamination.
  • Please hold on to your disposable cups and place them in the rubbish bags provided after the Lord’s table is finished.
  • Exiting the Building
  • At the end of the service please remain in your seat until instructed through one of the 4 exits by a steward.
  • We would ask any conversation between households to be reserved for the car park and that social distancing should still be maintained.

Toilets

-We would ask that toilets only be used if absolutely necessary.
-The only toilets that will open will be the ones at the front of the main building.
-One cubicle will be in use in the ladies and one cubicle and one urinal in the men’s.
-Antibacterial wipes will be provided and we would ask each individual using a toilet to wipe down any surfaces they have touched both before and after they use the toilet disposing of the wipes in the basket provided. (do not flush wipes down the toilet).

Families with young Children

  • We want to encourage everyone to come to Church who feels safe and able to do so but recognise that social distancing can be difficult for parents with young children but we want to encourage you to feel the service is accessible and available for all ages.
  • Unfortunately we are unable to provide crèche facilities in the immediate future.

Contact Tracing

  • A record will be kept of who has attended each service and if there is a positive case of COVID-19 this information would be used to aid contact tracing of those who may have been in close proximity to the infected person.
  • If anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for the virus we ask that you contact the Church leadership immediately.
  • Services would then be suspended until the quarantine period has passed or a negative test is returned.

Please be in prayer in these days that we would continue to know the Lord’s presence, help and protection as we begin steps to return to regular fellowship together. On a personal note I have been so encouraged by how the Lord has been with us in these days and been using this time for love to be expressed among our Church family, for opportunities to reach those who never have come into our building and to see others use their gifts in new ways to God’s glory. This has been a hard time and there may be more hard times ahead, but we take comfort from the words of Isaiah 43v1-3:
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
In Christ,
The Elders

____________________________________________________________________________

17/03/2020

Dear Church Family,

With a heavy heart I am writing to you to convey the decision of the elders on the 16th March 2020 to suspend all Church services until further notice in light of the developing situation regarding the Coronavirus.

We have not taken this decision lightly and understand this will be the first time in our 95 year history that we have not gathered as Lisburn Baptist Church on the Lord’s Day and in other meetings.

Our government has asked us as a nation to stop the gathering of groups of people in a bid to fight and delay the spread of this virus and we feel that by temporarily stopping our meetings we are following the teaching of Romans 13:1-7 where we are instructed to be subject to our governing authorities who are ultimately appointed by God.

Yet we want to encourage you as a Church to rise to the challenge of our time. We may have to temporarily shut the doors of our building but we are still Lisburn Baptist Church. Every effort therefore must be made to to continue to worship and glorify our God whilst showing love and fellowship to each other.

We are rapidly progressing an action plan to move our services to an online format by Sunday morning and will endeavour to circulate points of prayer so we can still pray in our own homes on Wednesday evenings from 8-9pm.

We understand that not everyone can navigate the online world so we are looking at how we can effectively distribute CD’s of services to those who need them. If you would like CD’s brought to you please contact one of the office bearers.

This is a time for us to care for each other; it is a time for us to be the body of Christ. I ask that you pick up the phone and encourage each other in the Lord and in prayer. I ask that if you are not in an ‘at risk group’ and are able to help practically with care for those who are self-isolating that you contact the office bearers.

I want to assure you that we as a Church and that we as elders are here. If you feel overwhelmed with fear or anxiety, we are here. If you are struggling to see the hand of God in this, we are here. If you need someone to talk to or someone to pray with you just pick up the phone.

But most of all I want to assure you that God is here. He is as much God today as He was yesterday and He will be tomorrow. He loved us enough to forsake His Son on a cross to pay for our sin so that He will never have to forsake us. Our God is still on the throne and we can still trust in Him. He tells us to ‘cast all our anxieties on him, because He cares for us.’ 1 Peter 5:7. He tells us that He has given us ‘a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ 2 Timothy 1:7

So let us use this time wisely in service for Him, let us share the hope we have in Christ with the lost, let us care for the weak and the needy, let us bear each other’s burdens, let us spend time alone with God, let us pray and read God’s word as families, let us continue to grow more like Christ.

‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Pastor Daniel Ashby


Upcoming Events

CHURCH continues! Just not in our building! Because of the Coronavirus we are broadcasting online Sunday services.
SUNDAYS & WEDNESDAYS Live Stream Video!
Sundays @ 11.30 am  & @ 6.30 pm Wednesdays @ 8 pm
Pastor Daniel Ashby is now ONLINE

CLICK HERE to watch: https://lisburnbaptist.org/live

Wherever you are, you’re very welcome to join with us ONLINE!

Comments

  1. This is our time to stand tall and I pray our actions during this terrible time will provoke questions in people we meet. Let us become a beacon of strength and love as we live our lives knowing confidently God is in control.
    You all remain in my prayers.

    1. Thanks so much for this encouraging message, Sylvia,.. I presume it is! Sorry, hadn’t noticed it before!

  2. Hi Daniel
    Thank you for your reassuring and encouraging letter and message below.
    May the Lord bless you. Victor Noel and our Deacons as you work so hard to shepherd us through such a time as this.
    Looking forward to joining with our church family tomorrow.
    Sincere thanks and continued prayers for all of you .
    Love in Jesus name

    Mike and Ruth

    1. Much appreciated, Mike & Ruth. We’re thankful for great teams that have come together in a labour of love for the Lord at this critical time of being “scattered” as a church.

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