Information from the District Website:

In the light of the coronavirus outbreak we are issuing some guidance about precautionary measures and suggestions about how we continue to care for each other. Given the rapidly changing situation anything that appears below should be checked against the most recent advice from government.

Services – Public acts of worship are suspended until further notice.

Other gatherings – District, Circuit and local church events are cancelled for the same period (eg, Safeguarding Conference, Schools Conference, Circuit meetings, coffee mornings etc.).

Pastoral matters – We were especially concerned about the isolated, vulnerable and lonely. Pastoral visitors/friends should stay in touch with people by telephone or where appropriate, social media. Ministers and lay pastors will similarly keep in touch with those who are in need.

General concerns – The effects of the current situation are likely to have greater impact on those who are already economically vulnerable. For example, those who need to resort to food banks will be deeply affected. Creative ways of continuing the provision are being explored.

Use of technology –  Other forms of communication rather than face-to-face meetings, for example conference calls, Skype, etc.will be even more relevant as we move forward.

Sharing good practice – It would be good to hear of ways in which churches and individuals are responding to the crisis. Please share with your minister or email me directly so that ideas can be shared.

Prayer – This is a time when we need to hold each other before God. Again, the Methodist Church website has resource material. Locally we pray for those who have contracted the virus and for healthcare professionals. We often pray for “those affected” in a time of crisis; this crisis affects all of us and therefore underlines the need to pray.

There is a lot of Useful information on the Methodist Church website. Please continue to consult the site as it will be updated in the light of unfolding events.

A prayer from the President of the Conference:

Loving God

If we are ill, strengthen us

If we are tired

Fortify our spirits

If we are anxious

Help us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.

Help us not to stockpile treasures from supermarkets in the barns of our larders!

Don’t let fear cause us to overlook the needs of others more vulnerable than ourselves

Fix our eyes on your story

And our hearts on your grace

Help us always to hold fast to the good and see the good in others.

And remember there is just one world, one hope,

One everlasting love, with baskets of bread for everyone.

In Jesus we make our prayer,

The one who suffered, died and was raised to new life,

In whom we trust, these days and all days. Amen

Information from the Methodist Church Website:

Coronavirus: Taking care of yourself and those around you

Each year at the beginning of lent we hear how Jesus was lead into the wilderness, where he was tested.  The wilderness is of course an isolated space; it becomes a testing place precisely because of the isolation.  We believe that human beings were created to live in relationship.  Relationship with one another and primarily with our Creator God.  So now in the lent of 2020 we find ourselves, more than ever, understanding what Jesus went through – and we can be assure that God has experience this too.

We read in the scriptures that in the wilderness Jesus was tested by the devil.  The taunts of “the evil one” have echo of what we might experience today:  increasing isolation, bombardment of negative and worrying news stories and concerns for the health of those we love, can heighten anxiety levels and cause depression.

We have had a look at some resources that have become available during the Coronavirus outbreak that can boost wellbeing and mental health to help build resilience at this difficult time.

Anxiety and depression

The mental health charity, Mind has produced a comprehensive set of resources for when:

  • you’re feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus
  • you’re asked to stay at home or avoid public places, for example if your employer asks you to work from home
  • you have to self-isolate.

See more here.

Practical help to overcome anxiety is here.

This advice emphasises the importance of routines, relaxation and remaining connected with others. Tips are offered for parents who are working from home but have children with them.

The NHS offers a breathing technique that can be used to help reduce stress: 

The charity Anxiety UK has produced a couple of helpful blogs which recommend a number of relaxation and calming measures including using the Headspace app.

For older people

This is likely to be a particularly worrying time for older people. Age UK has a section of helpful general information.

Loneliness is known to affect older people and the potential for this to become more widespread now is clear. Two charities that offer helplines are Sane and the Silver Line.

More information here:

  • SANEline is staffed by trained volunteers and professionals and is open between 4.30pm and 10.30pm every day of the year on 0300 304 7000. 
  • Silver Line offers a weekly life line of a telephone conversation to people over 55. Find out more by calling 0800 4 70 80 90 

Keep connected with Church friends

While church buildings may be closed, many church communities are offering telephone pastoral care and the chance to be part of an online worship community.

We have worship sheets to use at home and details of online worship and tips for those who want to do this here

Some examples of this are:

website of the Farnworth & Worsley Circuit Churches