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Are we still meeting in person?
Are we still meeting in person? (Thu 14 Jan, 6pm)
Dear Church Family,
Let me give you the headline up front: as a team of elders, we have made the decision to pause our Sunday Live in-person meetings for at least the next 3 Sundays (17, 24 & 31 January), and we will review the situation at the end of January.
This has not been an easy decision to make, especially given that:
We have a strong conviction regarding the importance of physical gathering (as I have articulated previously) – this conviction hasn’t changed,
We see the positive health benefits for many of us to be able to leave our home and worship with others,
The government are allowing us to meet,
We strongly believe that we have been running our meetings in a very safe way that complies with all the guidelines, and the government has stated that there is little evidence of any negative impact on the ‘R number’ linked to communal church worship.
However, we must be mindful of the pressurised situation that currently exists in hospitals and avoid even the slightest risk of adding to that. In addition to that, we don’t want to put anyone in the church in the difficult position of feeling they should come to Sunday Live (either as an attendee or to serve on the team) while feeling a sense of nervousness about doing so, especially because of the intensity of the current situation.
I know that some of you will immediately agree with this decision, whilst others will be disappointed. I am disappointed not to be meeting with some of you in person on Sunday – it’s a loss that we should feel deeply. However, I’m sure we can all appreciate the complexities we are facing and, as an eldership team, we share a conviction that this is the most appropriate decision for us right now, despite our passion for the church to meet in person.
It is more important than ever before to stay connected, to take every opportunity we have to be together (Sunday Online, Small Groups, prayer gatherings, New Testament in a year, contacting one another…) and to remain united. As the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:2-3: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
I am confident that God is at work in this time, stirring and provoking a greater hunger and thirst in His people. So let’s seek Him with everything we have, let’s love one another as well as we can and let’s shine as brightly as we can with the light of Jesus to those around us.
What does the guidance mean for us? (COVID-19 Update)
Dear Church Family,
I’m sure the announcement we heard earlier this week from the Prime Minister, about the further easing of restrictions, has produced feelings of excitement and relief for many, but also concern for some. I know that there are many things that I took for granted before that I appreciate a lot more now – for example, being able to meet as a team of elders in person (outdoors and socially distanced) to pray and talk together. It really is so much better than Zoom!
So what does this latest announcement mean for us as a church? Well, as I said in the Church Update video earlier this week, before the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday 23 June, it certainly does not mean gathering centrally on a Sunday morning (as appealing as the thought is of holding 25 gatherings of 30 people across a weekend with thorough sanitisation in between each one!).
However, what is an exciting development is the new guidance on two households being able to meet together indoors from 4 July. During the lockdown, we have been engaging with our online services in our own households – for some this is a family or a group of friends who live together, while for others it has meant being on your own. But, from Sunday 5 July, there will be the opportunity for two households to join together, if they wish, to enjoy our online service together. And we would absolutely encourage you to do this, if you feel comfortable and as long as you can adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
From the beginning of the lockdown, the church has responded so well in making sure no one stands alone. So, do think of people, perhaps those in your small group, who might not have others in the church to meet with. Is there anything you could do to help them to connect? The other exciting thing about this is that, in these small gatherings, we can break bread together (it will feel very ‘early church’ in the book of Acts)! And, again, we would absolutely encourage you to do this (safely) either before or after the service. Please click here for further information about meeting together and breaking bread together in a safe way, in line with Government Guidance as it stands at the moment. So – small but significant steps! And we’re obviously praying for the infection rate to stay low so that further easing can come in the future that may enable us to consider how Small Groups can gather together – but we’re not there yet. In all of this, I would ask us to continue to be mindful of those who may not be able to, or not feel comfortable to join with another household in this way – let’s keep doing all we can to keep everyone connected, no-one standing alone. But let’s also give thanks to God for the simple joy of being able to meet with others to worship Him together and break bread together. Be blessed!
I hope you are all well and continuing to adjust to these unusual circumstances. Here are my latest thoughts and encouragements for you: RHYTHMS At a time when our sense of connectedness has been disrupted, and normal structures and routines have gone, it is easy to feel disorientated, stressed, out of control, powerless… It is so important to find ways to be connected with others and to put new structures and routines in place that help you feel safe and allow for a sense of achievement every day. My friend, Simon Benham, who leads Kerith Community Church in Bracknell, wrote an excellent blog post for his church on this – I would very much recommend that you read it.
One important rhythm to have in your life is the rhythm of scripture. So let me once again recommend to you our ‘Bible in One Year’ group – it’s been a source of great encouragement for me and for others to share thoughts on what we are reading each day. Don’t worry about not having done the first 3 months – you can just hop in from today’s date. See here how you can connect with this.
SUNDAY MORNINGS Thank you for all your feedback on our online Sunday services – again, amazing job from our tech team piecing it together from different locations. We even threw in some ‘deliberate’ errors with the display of the scriptures to give it that authentic feel! For anyone who experienced any problems connecting to the online service, hopefully we now have ironed out those issues.
We have 2 important Sundays coming up – PALM SUNDAY and EASTER SUNDAY (and there will also be a Good Friday service). These are great opportunities to preach the gospel and call people to respond to Jesus, so let me encourage you to KEEP INVITING people to join us online – those on your BLESS lists, through your social media networks, etc… Just direct people to our Church Online home page (www.kchw.co.uk/online) just before 10:30am on Sunday (or, for those watching on Smart TVs, you can go directly to our YouTube channel).
ENCOURAGEMENTS I just want to thank you, church, for how you are responding to this challenge. I’m so encouraged by what is happening in the church at the moment in those 4 areas I outlined last week – CONNECT, PRAY, SUPPORT, SHARE:
• CONNECT – People are connecting in amazing ways through Small Groups, with more sign-ups coming in all the time. Your Small Group is the primary place for connection, pastoral care and prayer. We now have around 500 people in a Small Group, which is great, but we have capacity for more – we have Small Group leaders waiting in the wings to start a new group when there is a need for it. If you’re not in a Small Group, GET CONNECTED! Sign up in the ‘Small Groups’ section of our Church Online home page.
• PRAY – Again, your Small Group is the primary place for prayer, but the ‘attendance’ at our Thursday online prayer meetings was so encouraging, with over 200 people/households accessing it, of which around 150 attended the whole meeting. We will be praying again on Thursday – three different times to choose from: 7:30am, 12:30pm or 8pm. You will be able to access this through our Church Online home page, where you can also find some help on what you can be praying for at this time.
• SUPPORT – Again, your Small Group is the primary place for being supported and supporting others. But our pastoral team have been doing an outstanding job at supporting those who need urgent support that the Small Group cannot provide. If you are in need of support, or can offer support, please go to the ‘Support’ section of our Church Online home page.
• SHARE – There are some encouraging stories that have been shared on our Message Board. ‘Where is the Message Board?’ I hear you ask. You guessed it – on our Church Online home page! But I know there are so many more stories out there to be shared. You may not think they are worth sharing, but please let me encourage you to do so for the encouragement of the whole church at this time. Please share your stories of what God is doing, big things and small things.
And, in all these things, let us continue to shine with the light of Christ in our communities through how we live our lives – as it says in Philippians 2:14-16:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Keep connected, keep shining, and be blessed! John Harbour Senior Pastor
When are we meeting online during Lockdown?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update (Tue 24 Mar, 7pm)
Dear Church Family,
Well, following last night’s announcement from the Prime Minister, things have changed again… BUT WE ARE STILL HERE!
I thought our first online service on Sunday was a huge success – and, from the feedback, so did all of you. Thank you for all your enthusiasm, participation and inviting others in – the video of the service had nearly 1,400 views by the end of Sunday – incredible! I do want to acknowledge and thank our amazing worship team, who pulled things together very quickly, and also our heroic tech team (Matt Rootham, Ethan Clark, Paul Carr and Chris Stemp) who put in many hours to make sure everything was produced to such a high standard.
The tighter restrictions announced yesterday clearly mean we can’t do it in quite the same way as we did on Sunday – but we do have a cunning plan for this Sunday – SO WE WILL BE MEETING AGAIN ONLINE AT 10:30! It will be great, so let’s all be there and keep inviting others.
We have also added a NEW EVENT! Our Thursday morning prayer meetings have become a very important part of what we do, so on Thursday there will be the opportunity to take part together in an online prayer and worship time. The same event will run at three different times on Thursday: 7:30am, 12.30pm and 8pm. So get one of those times in your diary and join with others to worship and pray – you will be able to link to the prayer meeting from www.kchw.co.uk/online
As we continue to adjust to this new situation, there are four things we would like everyone to do (and these are all on our online church portal at www.kchw.co.uk/online ):
If you haven’t already done so, sign up to join a virtual Small Group. This is THE most important thing you can do to be connected to others – we don’t want anyone in the church to stand alone at this time. If you know of someone who needs help with this, please help them! And if you need help with this, click on the ‘Ask for help’ button in the ‘Support’ section.
We want to be a church that is devoted to prayer, and that seems all the more important at times like these. Pray for one another in your Small Groups, pray regularly into this situation (prayer points on the prayer page), and join in one of the online gatherings on Thursday.
Look out for one another – both inside and outside the church – and support those who have particular needs. Again, the best environment for this to happen is in a virtual Small Group. However, we have also been assembling pastoral, practical and intercessory teams for those who need urgent or vital support which the small group is unable to provide (you can both offer and ask for help in the ‘Support’ section).
We want to hear the stories of what’s going on – to encourage and inspire others. Stories of support, stories of encouragement, stories of what God is doing, big things and small things… stories of ‘ordinary people changed by Jesus to change the world’! There is a section on our online portal where you can share stories and read others’ stories – so let’s use it!
I’ll ‘see’ you at one of the prayer meetings on Thursday, and at 10:30am on Sunday. We’re praying for you all (we had a great staff prayer and worship time this morning, connecting together on ‘Zoom’ – amazing technology!)
Remember – we are people of faith, not fear, called to shine with the light of Jesus in the darkness around us. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1-2)
Be blessed! John Harbour Senior Pastor
Going into Lockdown... (3)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update (Sat 21 Mar, 5pm)
Going into Lockdown... (2)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update (Thu 19 Mar, 8pm)
Going into Lockdown... (1)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update (Tue 17 Mar, 6pm)
Dear Church Family,
I wanted to take the opportunity to update you with how the current situation with the Coronavirus is affecting our activities as a church (and just to give you a clue up front – it’s affecting them a lot!) I also want to reassure anyone who is feeling anxious, fearful and isolated that we are doing everything that we can to ensure that no-one in our church family stands alone during this difficult time.
We have been doing a lot of planning to be able to adapt quickly to very changeable circumstances – a lot of that planning is still ongoing, and so this email may not contain all the answers you are looking for, but I will try to bring as much clarity as I can. I will do this in 3 parts:
1. What we have to STOP 2. What we have the opportunity to START 3. How I would like us to RESPOND
1. What we have to STOP
The government guidance in the last couple of days is that everyone – regardless of age or health – should stop all non-essential contact with others (and it was clarified in the House of Commons that this includes religious gatherings). This means that, until further notice, we will not be gathering (physically) to meet: • On Sunday mornings • In Small Groups • Any other church event that had been planned
One activity that will be continuing, albeit in a modified format, is King’s Table. But, rather than gathering together, we will be taking ‘packed teas’ out to those who are homeless and offering to pray for them. We’re also looking at ways of continuing the OneCan food bank and how we can support that work.
2. What we have the opportunity to START
Someone once said that ‘every problem is an opportunity in disguise’, and we have the opportunity to use technology to our advantage. So here is what we are proposing to do:
Sunday Mornings We are intending to have an online church service on Sunday mornings that we can all access in our homes and join together as one family, worshiping and praising God. We are also looking at how we cater for our children and youth in this as well. We are still working out the details of this and deciding on the most straightforward way of doing it – we will update you later in the week, and will try to make it as easy as possible so even the least technologically-savvy among us will be able to access it!
Small Groups While Small Groups can’t meet physically, they will still be our most important way of supporting one another and staying connected – again, technology will play a big part here in helping groups stay connected remotely (details to follow). Many of our existing groups will continue, and we will also be putting in place a number of new groups – and we will be encouraging EVERYONE in the church to sign in to be part of a Small Group (again, details to follow).
Prayer We are looking at ways of continuing the momentum we have in prayer in the church – and it is essential that we pray at a time like this. Being online and on social media provides some great opportunities for both corporate and individual prayer. Again, we will update you with details of this once plans are finalised.
3. How I would like us to RESPOND
First of all, we are to be people of faith who are not ruled by fear. This blog post by J. John puts it well: https://canonjjohn.com/2020/03/13/living-under-the-shadow/
By the way, I know that many ARE feeling fearful and anxious for all sorts of reasons, and that these are not emotions that you can just turn off like a tap. And that’s OK. You don’t have to get too far into the psalms to realise that the psalmist often felt fearful, anxious and overwhelmed. So do what the psalmist does – pour out your heart with complete honesty to God and let Him be the change in you. Also, get others around you (remotely) who are praying for you.
Here are some other things we can do: • Sign up for a Small Group (when the information comes out). Everyone. Seriously – EVERYONE! This is the most important thing you can do to be connected into the church at this time. • Look out for, and join in with the online Sunday morning and prayer times that we will be providing. • Look out for people you know in the church who are in need or in isolation – find out how you can best support them. • If you are isolated and in need of support (or know someone who is), please let us know – you can email email@example.com or call 01494 459901. • Be the light of Jesus in your neighbourhood – think of ways you can serve your neighbours, particularly those who are vulnerable and at risk.
I’m sure there’s lots more to say, but I think that will do for now! People of King’s – you are magnificent, and I know that we will together step up to the plate and meet this challenge head on. Why? Because we don’t do it in our own strength, but in the strength of our amazing and almighty God. As it says in Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength, An ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way And the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Let’s be praying for this to be our reality and our confidence as we face the challenges ahead. What a joy to be part of this amazing community! I am continuing to pray for all of you.
With love and blessings,
John, on behalf of the King’s Church leadership team.
What are we changing due to COVID-19?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update (Tue 17 Mar, 9am)
We are aware of the developing situation and new government guidance, and will be posting an update during the course of today.
We will communicate changes to our normal church activities via this page so do check this regularly.
How is COVID-19 affecting church?
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Guidance (Sun 15 Mar, 9am)
The wellbeing of everyone attending King’s is a top priority for us. We are closely monitoring the outbreak of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and are following advice from the government and Public Health England, as well as securing other expert advice. As a result, we are taking appropriate steps to ensure we keep our congregations, staff team, and other attendees as safe as possible. We are also developing further plans should the situation change.
We are still intending to meet together on Sundays and look forward to seeing you there. We will of course adjust this as necessary and will update you here should anything change.
Sunday’s sermon, both audio and video, will be made available online, on the website and via the Mobile App, early in the week for anyone who is unable to attend.
PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND CHURCH IF…
You feel unwell and in particular have a persistent cough or high temperature – please stay away from church and self-isolate for 7 days in line with the government stay at home guidance.
You are in a period of self- or mandated isolation.
PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONS
We encourage everyone to continue to be friendly, but physical contact with others when you greet them at church is your choice to make. Whatever you choose, a warm smile is always encouraged!
If travelling by public transport, and for anyone who is serving, please wash your hands on arrival.