Published: 10th June 2020
You may have seen that “places of worship” are included in the government’s plan to reopen no earlier than 4th July. As a team we’ve spent a lot of time praying, thinking and talking this through, and we have produced a 12-page document detailing our strategy (which is available to view or download here
) is the outcome of these discussions. As you can imagine, simply allowing church buildings to reopen doesn’t mean we can immediately return to how we operated in early March and we’ve been looking carefully at what our church life may look like.
Here are some headlines from the larger document:
I would love to worship with you in person again; exchanging hugs, handshakes and communion together, but the reality is, we won’t be able to do this very soon. At the start of 2020, God called us to be an open-handed Church and this means choosing to put the needs of our wider community above our own, even when we desperately want to return to meeting together. Right now, the most loving and generous thing we can do is to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and help stop any further spikes in the pandemic. Whilst one of our values is risk taking, we do not want to take unnecessary risks. With this in mind, the Eldership have decided that we will not have any church worship services before September, when this decision will be reviewed.
During this time, we will continue to produce Sunday Online, Thoughts for the Day and Zoom prayer meetings whilst also resourcing those who are not online. We’ve been astonished that over 9000 individual devices have watched our online services! God is using Lockdown to extend the reach of the gospel!
We have put in place a strategy to reopen our buildings from 6th July, with some rooms being available for meetings with limited numbers and strict risk assessments and social distancing procedures in place. We cannot have an “open-door” policy which means that, unfortunately, Oasis Café will not be operating as usual for the foreseeable future. Any meetings we do hold will require people to book in, so that we know how many people are on the premises at any time. We shall let you know how you can book into particular meetings nearer the time.
Our return to church will come in small phases and each step of the way we will endeavour to keep you informed. In the meantime, I want to thank you for your spirit of encouragement and generosity in the face of this crisis. You have shown a great capacity to transition into online groups, phone calls and other creative expressions of community, whilst also supporting the neediest in our community. Your financial generosity to our Easter Offering is still having an impact today. Personally, I have been overwhelmed by your constant encouragement by text message, letter and email and by your increased passion for communal prayer. We’ve not allowed this pandemic to dampen our spiritual fervour, but rather it seems to have been a spark that has ignited our prayer life! Our doors have been closed, but Frinton Free Church is ALIVE!
May you each continue to know the richest blessings of our God and just how wide, long, high and deep his love for you is.
Published: 15th May 2020
Following the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday 10th May and the release of new guidance, the situation for churches in the UK remains unchanged. As things currently stand, in line with BU advice and guidance; www.baptist.org.uk/corona
, church buildings are to remain closed for Sunday services and weekday activities.
Published: 27th March 2020
Following the Government’s advice on Monday 23rd March regarding the Coronavirus, the Church is now completely closed, office staff and volunteers have been sent home, and the door code has been changed and will not be shared as usual until we re-open.
We will be monitoring the office answerphone and emails remotely and will endeavour to respond as quickly as we can. Please be patient with us.
Published: 17th March 2020
Many of us will have seen the Government’s advice yesterday evening regarding the Coronavirus, which has extended the need for all of us to restrict our contact with others.
Later in the evening, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was asked a direct question in the House of Commons about whether faith groups, including churches, should continue to meet. His answer was that all churches should now cease meeting, to protect the most vulnerable from the spread of the virus. Following this, the Baptist Union have issued the following advice to us:
“The advice is now that people should avoid meeting together wherever possible and this will have an impact on meeting on Sunday and at other times during the week. Sunday services should not now take place.”
So, sadly, with immediate effect, we are stopping all meetings at Frinton Free Church
, until we are given advice that it is safe to meet.
This includes mid-week events, Sunday services and our Church Members Meetings.
Some of us might be asking why we are doing this? Isn’t it a bit drastic? Surely it’s still up to us whether we meet or not?
I think it’s important we follow this advice for 3 reasons;
We are loving our neighbours by protecting our neighbours. It might be that you don’t fear contracting the virus, but we all need to think about who we may spread it to if we continue to meet.
This isn’t a fearful response, but it is being responsible. Our buildings and groups are open to hundreds and hundreds of people a week and we have a responsibility to offer a safe environment to all.
This is what love requires of us…at this time. It does seem strange and counter cultural, but for a season, the most loving thing we can do is reduce our contact with others. But it will be for just a season.
We have been hard at work, behind the scenes, beginning to plan a strategy for how we can still be the church during this time of separation. The pastoral team have made up a list of those likely to be the most isolated, and we will be making contact with them, offering help and support. We have also instructed Connect Group Leaders to make contact with group members at least once a week, to ensure we all feel loved and cared for.
But please, be proactive too! At the start of 2020 we believed that God was calling us to be an Open Handed Church
- what an opportunity to do just that! Let’s seek to remind each other that we’re not alone. Look for ways to reach out to each other. If someone comes to mind, let’s assume it’s the Holy Spirit bringing them to mind, and give them a call/text message. Let’s continue to be generous too. This time of isolation will prove to be a financial burden on some; particularly those who are self-employed. Perhaps this is a time to open ourselves to possibility that God may want some of us to alleviate some of that financial burden others are facing. This is a great opportunity for us to love each other in concrete ways. We will soon be making postcards available that you can pick up from the church, which you can put through your neighbours’ doors, offering them your help during this time.
As Churches Together in Frinton and Walton we have decided to launch an “Emergency Delivery Service” for those who are self-isolating and cannot get essential supplies. This weekend, every home in the area should receive a card with details on how to use this service. We expect to need 20+ people from local churches to be part of this delivery scheme. Perhaps you could help with this? I will be in contact soon with details on how you can volunteer for this project.
In the meantime, we intend to use technology as best we can to keep in touch with you all and to produce content each week to keep us fed. There will be at least one service “live streamed” each Sunday
, which you will be able to access via our website; https://www.frintonfree.com/sermonsandmedia
, Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/thefreefrinton
and an email link. We are also exploring options to make this available if you’re not a member of Facebook. Watch this space!
So, let’s be adaptable, generous, pastoral…and above all hopeful!
For years, the church in The West has measured its health by the number of people it gathers on a Sunday. Jesus has a different way of measuring spiritual health- by how we love one another. In the coming weeks and months we have an opportunity to show just how we love each other, in Jesus’ name.
Rev. Mark Massey
Published: 16th March 2020
Currently, all the advice we are receiving from The Government, via the Baptist Union, is that we are OK to continue with Church Services.
You can read this advice yourselves at https://www.baptist.org.uk/corona
With this in mind, we are continuing to plan for services this Sunday (22nd March) at 9am, 11am, 5.30pm and 7pm.
However, please can we assure you that we understand if you’d rather not attend services for the foreseeable future
If you feel vulnerable, or have chosen to “self-isolate” we understand your reasons behind this and will be praying for you.
If you are self-isolating, please can you email/contact the church office, so we can put plans in place to support you at home. email@example.com
And let’s look out for each other. Please keep in touch with each other and where appropriate, offer to help where you can.
We can show acts of kindness of love in practical ways- lets be good neighbours.
The church office will be keeping a file of those self-isolating and who need help.
Please contact the church if you know of anyone who might need our help and we will act on the information as appropriate.
For those staying at home, we will continue to stream church services at 11am and 7pm
from the church’s Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/thefreefrinton
, which we hope you will watch.
Don’t forget that services are also available to download from our website https://www.frintonfree.com/sermonsandmedia
We have taken the decision to shut some mid-week groups, which we consider most vulnerable.
From this week, Welcome Break, Oasis and Jellytotz will close until further notice.
There also won’t be refreshments at our services either.
I hope you understand these decisions, which we believe are wise and balanced at this stage.
We will be making use of technology to communicate with you all on a regular basis, so please keep sight of emails, Facebook and our website.
We have also sent hard copies of this email to those members not on email, and will continue to make sure we communicate to everyone.
Can I also ask you to continue to pray-
- for those most vulnerable, who are scared and fearful of the future.
- for our emergency services, doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are under considerable stresses at this time.
- for our Leadership Team. We really do appreciate your prayers as we enter this unprecedented time. None of us have been taught how to respond to a situation like this and so we are fully reliant on the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us through this difficult time. Please pray that we continue to listen for his prompts and nudges.
“God is our refuge and strength. An ever present help in time of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…” Psalm 46
God bless you all
Rev. Mark Massey