A letter from the Rev Roger Wiles written on 18th March 2020

Dear Friends,

We are living in unprecedented times. The Covid19 pandemic has caused panic throughout the world and on our doorstep. Witness the carnage in any local supermarket. Our nearby Asda being a perfect example. Rows and rows of shelves emptied as people in their fear and confusion buy goods as if there will be no tomorrow.

May I assure you, there is no need for panic. As Christians we have a hope that cannot be displaced even by a world pandemic. Remember the words of Paul in Romans 8…
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Nothing can separate us from Christ’s love! We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Of course, there are hard times ahead for many and of course we should take all the sensible precautions that government has advised. To that end we have suspended our services and other church meetings until further notice, and I would encourage you to take the precautions of self-isolating or social distancing as is appropriate. This all means that our past patterns of being a church family must change until the current crisis abates.

We will therefore be making more and more material available online through our YouTube channel and our website. I encourage you to read the sections below and respond in any way that applies to you and your circumstances. We are working on ways in which we can manage pastoral care for those in need trying to ensure that no-one ‘slips through the net’.

We remain a united church family. United in Christ. Nothing can separate us from Him and His love. For some there will be illness to face and perhaps even bereavement. Hard times. But we are one in Christ and He is our head. I encourage you to meditate not just on the Romans 8 passage but also the most famous of Psalms. Psalm 23.

It is such a comfort in times like these. In it we are reminded that our sovereign God is in control, He is the Lord and our Shepherd. We are assured of His personal care and concern for us. He orders our lives and provides for us in both this life and the next. And there’s that glorious promise and assurance that He is with us “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. He is with us in the darkest times of this life, in this current Covid19 crisis, however it is affecting us individually. He will lead, guard and guide us until that day we rejoice with Him in heaven and “dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

Let’s not forget that this crisis offers us unprecedented opportunities to love and serve those around us, both in the church family and in our neighbourhoods. If you can help others, show the love of Christ by doing so. This can range from fetching shopping to just lifting the phone to have a chat. But let’s not miss the chance to point others to the hope we have in Christ. For those who do not know Christ, this is a time of deep anxiety – even panic. We have a glorious gospel to offer them.

Pray for each other of course, pray for those infected by the virus, pray that people will turn to God in Christ at this time, pray for revival of faith, pray for opportunities to speak of the love of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, the hope of resurrection and eternal life with Him.

Please be assured of my love and prayers.
God bless you all,