We live in a situation that this country has not faced since the war and, not surprisingly, questions are being asked about a whole range of issues relating to church life.

Of primary importance is people’s health and well-being. Please do not put yourself or others at risk unnecessarily. Those who feel vulnerable should self-isolate to protect themselves and that includes our clergy. I am aware that this means some churches will not be able to have a service for the foreseeable future and in others there may be no congregation until the risks have passed.

In the light of this, please keep one another informed as best you can. This means the groups that use your church, as well as congregation members.

Clergy should not make visits to hospitals or care homes but ensure that chaplains, where there are chaplains, are informed about any patients.

The mission of the church is to respond to the needs of the world with God’s love and there is important work to be done to keep in touch and support those who are ill or self-isolating (and their families, where possible) whether church-goers or not. Regular phone calls, offers to do shopping or fetch prescriptions and medication, and keeping one another informed of people’s needs are all ways in which we can live out God’s love.

We believe in a God who is with us at all times and in all circumstances, and in times of challenge it is all the more important to for us to pray and, if possible, to worship together. The following are things you can put in place:

– Prayer resources are available here. Thanks to Becca Stevens and John Connell for these. Please print them off and ensure that those who are self-isolating have copies for their private use.
– for those who can access the internet, you can live-stream your church service so that those who are at home can join in
– when and if our public acts of worship are suspended, there will be recorded services put on the diocesan website so that we can continue praying and worshipping together, albeit remotely

I am meeting with my senior team and diocesan officers regularly to consider what further advice and support we might give in this quickly evolving scenario. The Church in Wales will also be issuing further guidelines in response to the best and latest government advice. The website will be regularly updated accordingly.

In all of this, let us hold one another in prayer and join together with the Psalmist:

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,
And though the mountains tremble at the heart of the sea;

Though the waters rage and swell
And though the mountains quake at the towering seas.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

From Psalm 46