On Monday this week the Health Secretary stated that our nation is now at the worst point of the COVID pandemic. The vaccination programme is now rapidly gaining momentum – but meanwhile so is the spread of the virus. As elsewhere in the country, infections have risen here in West Oxfordshire over recent weeks, adding increasing pressure to our local NHS and ultimately leading to more COVID related deaths.
So we must individually and collectively do everything we can to avoid unnecessary contacts until the position improves and restrictions are lifted. As well as ensuring that we comply with the restrictions, we should live in the spirit of how they are intended. Consequently, we have decided not to hold any face to face services in church until further notice. Furthermore, we will not have any meetings on church premises unless there are exceptional reasons to do so and they are permitted within current restrictions.
I am also aware that many in our community are in great need of support at the moment, in many different ways. We still have many freedoms to put to good use. We can live out our faith with obedience to the necessary restrictions and compassion for each other. Let us particularly support each other, our neighbours, friends and families in whichever ways that we can, within the restrictions. Phone calls to check how a neighbour is doing, home group Zoom meetings, collecting shopping for those fully shielding and prayer are all examples of things that we can do at this time.
Pastoral support from clergy will be mainly by telephone or zoom at this time. Clergy are permitted to visit in person if telephone support is not possible or sufficient. Do let us know if you are aware of someone who might appreciate support from clergy or other pastoral visitors at this time.
St.Leonard’s will remain open on Wednesdays and Sundays, and St Peter’s everyday for private and individual prayer. If we have a funeral in the week we may need to close the church for some days. We have updated our signage in the churches, where necessary, to encourage everyone to remember the procedures that allow ourselves and our community to remain safe.
We will relax restrictions when it is both permitted and wise to do so. The return may be staggered in order to ensure those who most in need of in-person support are able to access it as soon as possible. At this time let us make the best of this opportunity to reach out creatively to one another in Christ’s love.
Vicar and Churchwardens
Benefice of St.Leonard’s and St.Peter’s
14th January 2021