Coronavirus update for Westbourne Parish Church

Updates to arrangements and Andrew's weekly letter to the Parish during the global coronavirus outbreak can be found in our news section.


Church arrangements update (25 March 2020)


Prayers and intercessions for individuals during the corona outbreak

Church of England liturgy and prayer resources

Church of England Guidance for Parishes on the corona outbreak (March 2020) - this includes FAQs, digital resources, and more.


Arrangements for Westbourne Parish (update on 18 March 2020)

I am writing what I intend to be just the first of a succession of newsletters to keep parishioners aware of developments in the life of our churches of St John the Baptist, Westbourne, and Woodmancote, and perhaps with wider application to our parish as a whole.

I expect that the majority of you have learned in the past 24 hours of the Church of England’s instruction to suspend worship in our churches as part of a nation’s strategic and compassionate response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (‘coronavirus’). We have accordingly cancelled for the immediate future all scheduled services at our two churches. In particular, this means no services of worship on Sundays, and no midweek communion. In limited circumstances, baptisms, marriages and funerals will continue.

Such a closure for worship is required of us with a heavy heart. These buildings offer joyful celebration of Christian faith and a place of friendship and engagement. There is a depth of prayer and a musical offering that helps us all consider and express our lives before God. No parish priest is ever at ease with closing down worship for however short a time: especially in this poignant season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.

St John the Baptist Church extended opening for prayer and reflection

The Parish Church remains open, nonetheless, and I hope that many people will continue to step inside its doors and offer a prayer or spend some time in reflection amid the present difficulties. We have extended its opening hours from 08:30 through to 17:00. We shall also as a Christian community continue to bear in our prayers those who are suffering acutely at this miserable time. One of the ways in which I hope to enable this is through a regular emailed offering, with updates, as well as reflective material designed to help us maintain our perspective and our relationship with God. Please receive these mailshots generously and allow them to be an encouragement and a help in showing love to one another.

Churchyard Working Party to continue

A small number of our events will go on, as before. A great example is the Churchyard Working Party this coming Saturday 21 March 2020, from 9.00am to 12noon (or whenever you can within that period). Bring tools and gloves, and your own water or thermos, since for obvious reasons we shall keep our respective distance and not serve communal drinks on that occasion. [Update: thank you to everyone who supported this]  

The magazine will, it is hoped, be printed and distributed as normal. Many activities will be going on behind the scenes, and extra help is to be welcomed where it can sensibly be offered. Sadly, our Parish Hall Drop-in needs to be brought to a halt until further notice; and we shall not this Saturday be making daffodil posies, as had been planned.

Annual Meeting 

It is also not so long before our churches’ Annual Meeting at which we elect new members of the church council (‘PCC’) for the period ahead. Maybe out of this coming together of a community, in pain, you would like to serve in this capacity in the better days that will lie ahead. Send me a message or speak further if that feels a prospect you would like to explore.

Visiting and pastoral care

In the meantime, face-to-face visiting will necessarily reduce, but pastoral care will not diminish with (hopefully) an imaginative and attentive use of phone and electronic communication.

Prayer requests

Do please contact me appropriately if I can help or signpost to others. Also, to let me be aware of any persons for whom we should particularly pray from week to week, or indeed if there are health or other developments of which you would like me to be aware. I hope in all things to be working sensitively alongside the Parish Council, the local schools, the trades and businesses, pubs and café, and a new group initiated by the good folk of Westbourne Weekend to enable an effective community response to our current challenges.   

Ironically it is at times such as this that your parish needs you most. I ask you in your own living to have a sharp eye upon the needs of neighbours, and especially those who might be most badly affected by the demands of self-isolation.

Do presume, too, that things will change - at times, with a bewildering rapidity - and so keep aware of local and national statements, as well as those regarding our churches.  

Stay positive in your approach to one another, if you can; stay caring; and yet also stay wise and safe.  And pray for the day when these sufferings be overcome and our constraints may indeed be lifted. 

A Prayer

O God of love and mercy, strengthen us we pray, 
that this parish which is to us a place of work or relaxation, 
of home or schooling, of worship or other endeavour; 
a place of present pain or joy, alike;
may also be for all a realm of kindness and respect, 
with a neighbourly care reflecting your own dear love; 
in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.


With best wishes, 


Andrew Doye

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