Response to COVID-19

Avenue Baptist Church response to COVID-19 on 2nd April

In all of the upheaval that we are facing we need to grow in our relationship with God during this time and not just endure it so in response we have developed the following strategy.

Preaching Series for Avenue Baptist Church from 19th April until 26th July

As the Corona virus pandemic sweeps across the world it has left in it’s wake anxiety, fear and death so the first part of our two part series engages with the social isolation that billions of people are experiencing by exploring the ministry of touch that Jesus had in the Gospel accounts.

The Bible tells how Jesus, though he was by very nature divine, did not consider his exalted position as God as something he should cling to, but voluntarily gave it up and humbled himself to enter the world as a man. And then he stooped even lower, becoming a servant who spent his entire life attending to the needs of others. Jesus never shrank from human suffering. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty ministering to the sickness and squalor of his world. He used those hands to reach out and touch suffering people with healing and hope.

As the great Christian thinker John Calvin put it:

“In assuming our flesh, [Christ] has granted us more than the touch of his hand; he has brought himself into one and the same body with us, that we should be the flesh of his flesh. He does not only stretch out his arm to us, but he comes down from heaven even to the very depths … cleans all our dirt away, and pours upon us his own holiness”.

19th April Matthew 8:1-4 Touching a Leper

26th April Mark 1:29-31Touching Simon’s Mother-in-Law

3rd May Mark 7:31-37 Touching a Deaf-Mute Man with Communion

10th May Mark 8:23-26 Touching a Blind Man

17th May Mark 9:14-29 Touching a Boy Possessed

24th May Mark 5:35-43 Touching a Dead Daughter

31st May John 20:24-27 Touching Jesus (Pentecost)

In our second series we will be exploring 8 Psalms of Ascent. Songs sung by pilgrims as they made their way to the Temple to worship God.

In June 8, 1941 C.S. Lewis ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford and delivered “The Weight of Glory,” one of the most insightful sermons of the twentieth century.

Even though the Second World War was raging around him, Lewis instead of focussing on a world at war decided to turn his listeners attention to the glory of God. As the world uses it’s considerable resources to fight this virus we would like to invite you not to escape this present war but to turn your thoughts to something greater and more wonderous, the glory of God in the Psalms.

7th June Psalm 121 with Communion

14th June Psalm 122

21st June Psalm 124 (Fathers Day)

28th June, Psalm 125

5th July Psalm 128 (Church Anniversary) with Communion

12th July Psalm 130

19th July Psalm 133

26th July Psalm 134

But we are also exploring new ways to connect and build relationships with one another. So our Young People are using WhatsApp, the children and families have their own dedicated face book page. Lesley, Litza, Jim, Rachel and myself will be posting things on the church Face Book page with Jim focusing on our response to the community, Lesley focusing on Children’s and Family and Litza on Young People.

We are also using e-mail, letters, phone calls and something called Zoom which is like an internet conference room whereby people can see and hear everyone else. Already the leadership team and core pastoral care team have used it as well as a church homegroup. We will be inviting other small group leaders to consider using it for their small group.

We would like us to connect on a Sunday morning by having a segment in our Sunday Services called ‘Family News’. So during the week photographs of what the congregation have been doing this week, news of birthdays, anniversaries or any achievements that have recently been done will be shown/communicated on a Sunday service. The e-mail address we will be using is familynews@avenuebaptist.com this is now replacing pastoralcare@avenuebaptist.com.

We will continue to monitor our pastoral care strategy that everyone in the church will be contacted by a church leader on a weekly basis through our core pastoral care group made up of Andrew, Jim, Lesley, Stephen, Alison and Terry Wheeler which will meet via zoom on a regular basis throughout this crisis.

Across the town we are using new and older forms of communication so that although we might not be able to connect physically we are spiritually and emotionally.

Keep safe and God bless you

Andrew.

 

Avenue Baptist Church response to COVID-19 on 16th March

In the wake of Matt Hancock’s (MInister of Health) statement in the House of
Commons (follow this link if you wish to hear it yourself
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=62&v=Ubm2aLpmLwU&feature=emb_logo)

and the advice of the Baptist Union that ‘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.’ We have decided with much regret and sadness
to suspend all meetings connected to the church. This includes small groups,
mid week meetings, upcoming events and Sunday Services.

In their place we will stream a short service live through our You Tube
Channel on Sundays at 10.30am. If you wish to view it please go to our
website and click on the you tube icon at the top of the page or follow this link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXffAdJXI6g

Myself, Stephen, Callum, Dave and Lesley will be broadcasting from Church
which will be closed to everyone else (Lesley will be the steward on the door
telling people who come on Sunday that services have been suspended).
Unfortunately because of licensing laws we cannot play or broadcast any
music and therefore the service should last around 20 minutes. Although we
are looking into streaming live music in the near future.

You might like to know that there is a National Day of Prayer at 7pm on
Sunday. If you would like to be involved please light a candle or put a lamp in
a window of your home as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our
source and hope in prayer. And then pray for our world at this time
Those who have bought tickets for the Centurion and Big Church Day out will
be fully reimbursed.

It is expected that our finances will drop during this time as people will no
longer be able to hand in their offering. We therefore encourage people who
normally give on a Sunday to keep hold of their offering until the church is
open or to set up a standing order. If you wish to do this then here are the
details of the church account, sort code 40-52-40, bank account number
00021177.

We appreciate that this outbreak could last for several months and that care
for one another will be vital in helping us get through this as a church family
particularly as this virus outbreak is being combatted in part through social
isolation and therefore we will endeavour to communicate in various ways:
1) Through an e-mail once a week in part to inform you of decisions made,
pass on any information and provide spiritual resources during this
time.
2) We appreciate that not everyone is on e-mail and so there will be a
distribution of the weekly e-mail by hand. If you know of anyone who
doesn’t have an e-mail and would like this weekly letter do let me know.
3) Lesley will communicate via our Facebook account and will set up a
church twitter account
4) Many people have been identified as needing extra support and 5
people (Andrew, Stephen, Lesley, Jim and Alison) will ring these people
each week to see how they are doing as pastoral visits are being
discouraged as they can be a source of infection. Do let me know if you
have anyone in mind who might appreciate a regular phone call.
5) All small group leaders have been encouraged to contact their small
group members on a regular basis. These small groups are homegroup
leaders, WHOP, A Ladies Venue, Worship Group, Seekers, Children’s
leaders and volunteers.
6) If you have any or aware of any pastoral needs could I ask you to
contact me via a new e-mail address
pastoralcare@avenuebaptist.com. This e-mail address will then
forward it to myself, Jim, Alison, Stephen and Lesley. This means that if
one or more of us are unwell responses to concerns can be responded
to quickly. The other means of contacting the church with any pastoral
concerns is to ring 01702 346896. This will be the main number for
contact as I will monitor the phone every day and it has an answer
machine. If I am unwell others can access my office to listen to any
messages. Could I also suggest you might like to pass on these contact
details to family and friends who will then be able to get in contact with
the church if you are unwell.

As you know our Christian identity is reflected in how we do life together and
how we serve our communities. Therefore we have drawn up a strategy to
respond to our wider community.
Pastoral Care for the Community
1. We will reach out to churches near us, St Marks, St Helen’s and St
Alban’s to see if there could be a joint response
2. We will distribute prayer cards around the church with contact details
and offers of a phone call and prayer
3. We will continue be open to receive donations of food for the Food
Bank.
4. We will make sure we have information to communicate how to get food
bank vouchers
5. We will encourage people to show acts of kindness during this time of
anxiety and isolation. From seeing if their neighbours have any needs
to picking up litter when we walk the dog or go to the shops.
We appreciate that this is a very fluid situation at this time and information
and guidance is changing rapidly. Therefore a small team will be meeting via
a conference facility called Zoom on a regular basis to discuss our further
response.

In the midst of all our anxiety, fear and uncertainty let me finish this statement
with a prayer from Ephesians 3
For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15
from whom every family in heaven
and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may
strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being
rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s
holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of
Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be
filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Amen.