Dear PHBC Family,
Some of you may know that as much as I would in no way consider myself a good swimmer, I really like boats and used to regularly attend the London Boat Show. A number of years ago, a few friends and I hired a yacht for a day’s sailing on the Solent. OK, the hire agreement also included two crew to do actual sailing, whilst the rest of us were there to just enjoy the experience as we sailed toward the Isle of Wight, put down anchor in the Solent, and were treated to a salmon lunch with some bubbly.
Light showers had been forecast by the weather people, so we all had waterproof clothing as we boarded the boat that morning. What we had not foreseen was that what were light showers on land, equates to a very windy and soggy experience on water, with each of us needing to adjust to the continually choppy movement of the boat. One minute we were able to stand unaided, the next, we were knees bent and arms outstretched trying to stay upright, and before we knew it, we were stable again and then needing to hold on to a rail or a rope, in order not to fall overboard.
Navigating the ‘waters’ of the Coronavirus pandemic has been a little like that for us all. In particular, with regard to who we are and what we do, as a church. The leadership team and I have, through the last ten months, found ourselves continually seeking to adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic, seeking to ensure that we can lead in navigating the waves of information that we are presented with.
Just four days ago, I published a letter in which I communicated to decision to keep the church open, and continue with holding Sunday services, and if you have not seen it, details of the letter are on our website – https://www.phbc.org.uk/third-national-lockdown/
In the time since that letter was written, the severity of this new wave of the virus, and its impact on our families, our communities, our city and country cannot be denied. The hospital in which I serve as a chaplain, currently has around a thousand COVID admissions, and increasing numbers of people in our communities and through our workplaces are coming into contact with those who might have symptoms. Bringing it home, a number of people in the PHBC Family have either recently become unwell with flu-like symptoms and need to stay home, or are having to self-isolate in order to minimise risk of transmission to others, because they may have been in contact with someone with flu-like/ COVID-like symptoms.
In light of this, I have today taken the decision to suspend all in-person gatherings, including Sunday Worship services, at the very least until 23rd January. The two weeks of so from now, will give every one of us an opportunity to isolate (if needed) as well as some added physical assurance that we have sought to apply wisdom in our decisions.
We know that the Church is not the building but the body, and we know that we must never take our position in Christ for granted, whilst leaving others without an opportunity to ‘come and worship’, yet, the book of Daniel tells us that ‘wisdom is profitable to direct’, and we must place an emphasis on seeking to balance the physical safety of every person.
Arrangements are being made to ensure that our Sunday Worship services will continue to be broadcast on PHBC Radio, as well as on our video streaming platforms (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter).
As we navigate the ‘changing waters’ of this situation, please be assured that the Lord has not left us to fend for ourselves. It is my sincere prayer that He will keep you in His perfect peace; all you need to do is keep your mind fixed on Him. The songwriter, Scott Krippayne, in the song, ‘Sometimes He Calms the Storm’ sang these words:
Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child.
As we journey through these ‘waters’, may the words of this chorus, be your testimony.
With every blessing,
Rev. Deji Ayorinde