Download statement in PDF here: District statement re buildings at Easter
On February 22nd 2021 the Government announced the cautious easing of lockdown restrictions, stating that, “…even though absolute case numbers remain relatively high, we will be able to begin relaxing the current strict lockdown. While we must all remain vigilant – in particular against the threat from new COVID-19 variants – and continue to protect the NHS, a safe exit from lockdown can begin.”*
Of course this is really good news, and the hopes and spirits of many are lifted by the prospect of being able to meet in person with family and friends (in small groups, out of doors) over the Easter break.
For the Christian community, gathering in person to worship on arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday, is deeply significant. Of course we have been free to gather for worship throughout this lockdown, but many of us have decided not to exercise that privilege for the sake of the greater good. The Liverpool District would like to suggest that now is not the time to change that decision, despite the real and understandable temptation to do so. Managing Trustees are encouraged to be very cautious about altering their arrangements for worship ‘just for Easter’ bearing in mind the need to act in the best interests of the whole community, not just their own preferences.
In suggesting this, the District notes that the Government is maintaining the first step of the easing until April 12th, well after the Easter break. The big change (Step 3) will not happen before 17th May, when, “…legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.”* Presumably this process is deliberately designed to restrict the possibility of people gathering over Easter, and the risk of a consequent rise in the infection rate (R). In fact, just opening schools might add as much as 0.5 to R, which is now about 0.7 — requiring a pause before the next moves.
Consequently, despite our longing to open for Easter, the Resourcing Mission Group’s recommendation is for a more strategic, measured, and gradual approach to the re-opening of church buildings for collective worship at this time. One that seeks not to inadvertently undermine the wonderful advances the vaccine roll-out offers us.
We pray for God’s continued guidance and wisdom through this Lenten season.
The Revd Dr Sheryl Anderson, Chair of District
3rd March 2021
Click on this link to read and/or download a copy of the letter sent from faith leaders to Boris Johnson on 28th October 2020 regarding the the need to tackle child poverty:
Please pray for one another, and for our church in this process of discernment and decision making. The Methodist website provides some prayer resources for each day of the week here.
2. Provisional Legislation
The Methodist Conference 2019 voted for provisional legislation which would change our approach to marriage and relationships. This was through a report called: God in Love Unites Us. As a result we are now consulting across the District in preparation for a vote at our Synod on 25th April 2020.
The vote will be on five resolutions as set out in this document.
Our votes and responses will then go forward to Methodist Conference 2020 for a final decision.
Our conversations will seek to achieve two things:
- a full open conversation between people coming from different perspectives;
- to inform the District Synod of the range of views within the District.
We have trained a number of people to facilitate these conversations. You can access various documents and study guides below.
- Find the full report here: God in Love Unites Us
- Or in large print here: God in Love Unites Us (Large Print)
- And here is the official Methodist Church study guide: God in Love Unites Us Study Guide
- Cumbria District have produced an extended study guide which includes some helpful resources for looking at what Biblical sources about marriage and relationships have to say. Find their study guide here.
- Methodist Evangelicals Together provide resources from a traditional perspective. Find their website here.
- Dignity and Worth provide resources from a perspective which looks for change in our current practice. Find their website here.
- Other resources are available from the Methodist Church in Britain website here: Marriage and Relationships resources