Dear PHBC Family,
Firstly, let me take this opportunity to tell you that I thank God for you, and your continuing testimony in Him. I can only imagine what things may have really been like for you and your family since I last wrote to you in March.
In that time, COVID-19 seems to have dominated our media, our conversations, our actions and to some degree, our way of life. In that time, we have heard or seen as the number of deaths from the virus rose in many countries around the world, we have seen as our communities have reeled from the impact of the virus, and in many cases we, ourselves, have been directly affected through the loss of a loved one or by having survived the virus itself. Psalm 124 opens with David calling Israel to say, “If it had not been for the Lord on our side…” and having come through the last three months, I’m sure you can look back and recognise that God had you covered. For that, we truly praise the name of our God.
Following on from my announcement in church last Sunday, I know that many of you are keen to see other members of PHBC Family, and I am delighted that the infection and mortality rates from the virus have dropped to such a level that we are able to meet again, albeit with some social distancing in place. On Tuesday, the UK government announced that churches may reopen buildings for public worship from the 4th of July, and last night’s clarification in the House of Commons, on a number of issues, has meant that we are now in a position to make a decision on the way forward as regards our physical gathering.
To that end, please note that the church will reopen for our ‘Back to Church’ service, on 5th July 2020 and we will continue to meet as a church, every Sunday after that. In light of current social distancing guidelines, together with our determination to help everyone keep and feel safe, and following our carrying out relevant risk assessments, please take note of the following:
THE GATHERED CONGREGATION
The congregation will be gathered in two rooms during each service – the Sanctuary and the Peake Hall. There will be much fewer seats in the Sanctuary, which means that the Peake Hall will serve as the overflow area. The church services will be livestreamed to a screen in the Peake Hall.
We have made arrangements for hand sanitiser stations in every room that will be used, and this includes sanitiser foam and gel dispensers in the foyer, as you come in, as well as smaller dispensers and sanitiser wipes available in all areas. Of course, you are still encouraged to keep your hands clean by washing them with soap and water. In addition to this, we will also have masks available for you to use, should you wish to.
ONE WAY SYSTEM
As a means to minimise transmission through congestion, every door and every corridor will operate as part of a one-way system through the building. Please ensure to observe this whenever we are gathered in the building. Signs and markings will be displayed in all areas of the building, in order to help navigate the one-way system. Stewards will also be on hand throughout the building, in order to assist as needed.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
As much as many of us are happy and able to meet, there are dear members of our church family who are unwilling or unable to do so, often because the risk to their health is of some significance. Please remember to continue to love them, demonstrated in your prayers and patience towards them. No one is under any obligation to come to church. In the same vein, if you have been shielding, are shielding, or are in a medically vulnerable group, please do not take any risks with your health. Stay home until you believe it is safe for you to come. Whilst the church is observing social distancing, we will livestream the services on the PHBC website as well as on PHBC Radio, so there will be opportunities for anyone to join us from home.
UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
In a bid to minimise the spread of the virus, help keep people safe and subsequently prevent a spike in infections, the government has imposed a ban on singing in church services. This means that the Worship Team will not be leading us in any songs and any music that is played will be for personal reflection, rather than public expression. As much as this news may be a little disappointing to some, I know you will agree with me that our worship of Almighty God is not merely about the songs we sing, and the reopening of the church presents an opportunity for us to gather in fellowship with God and one another.
HUGS, HANDSHAKES AND HIGH FIVES
Our love and fellowship, and how we express them, are at the heart of our identity as a church family, however as we seek to ensure we have done our part in keeping one another safe, and in accordance with current social distancing guidelines, hugs, handshakes and high fives are not permitted. It is particularly important that you do not take any offence if you offer one to somebody, and it is refused.
So, we remain thankful to God, for what He has done, what He is doing and what is yet to be done. At PHBC, in Pollards Hill, London, the UK, and around the world, things are going back to normal. Just not as we have known it. Yet, we have a hope that is built on Jesus’ blood and righteousness, a hope rooted in Jesus’ promise never to leave or forsake us, a hope that gives us a confidence about the future, because as the songwriter sang, ‘On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand’.
I am grateful for you, and look forward to once again, having in-person fellowship with you very soon.
God bless you,
Rev. Deji Ayorinde