Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Caring for Medics in Church and a Medical COVID Update with John Stevens, Dr Peter Saunders and Dr Felicia Wong.
1. In our journey from exile to the promised land we are in a hostile world. Our inheritance (this world) is ruled by the wicked. But we can trust God because the rule of the wicked will end. God’s people are secure, the wicked will be removed, and the upright will be blessed. Therefore we should pray for God to act.
2. The roadmap out of lockdown is going to be slow and cautious. The return to normality will not be until the end of June at the earliest and it is unlikely that the pace will be faster.
3. Implications of the roadmap for social distancing and singing.
– At present there is no change to the guidance on corporate singing or in social distancing (2m or 1m+ with other mitigations).
– Earliest dates for ending social distancing is 21 June but no guarantee of this. Could be then that mask wearing is still required.
4. Implications of the roadmap for indoor corporate worship.
– Churches in England are open.
– At present no mixing/mingling outside household group at church.
– Gradual relaxing: 17 May – groups of 6 people or 2 households; 21 June – no legal restrictions on social mixing.
5. Implications of the roadmap for outdoor corporate worship.
– Outdoor services allowed in church car park, courtyard, garden but no mixing or mingling.
– Gradual relaxing: 29 March – groups of 6 or 2 households; 17 May – up to 30 meet outdoors; 21 June – no legal restrictions on social mixing.
6. Implications of the roadmap for weddings.
– At present weddings only allowed in exceptional circumstances with max of 6 attenders.
– Gradual relaxing: 29 March – weddings permitted with max of 6 attenders; 12 April – weddings and receptions with max of 15 attenders; 17 May – weddings and receptions with max of 30 attenders; 21 June – no legal restrictions on social gatherings.
7. Implications of the roadmap for funerals.
– At present funerals up to 30 attenders and wakes with max of 6.
– Gradual relaxing: 29 March – funerals 30, wakes 15; 17 May – funerals 30, wakes 30; 21 June – no legal limits on social gatherings.
8. Implications of the roadmap for pastoral care and small groups.
– At present ‘support groups’ for up to 15; visits to provide care and assistance to vulnerable, visit the dying, provide help in emergency, exercise with one person outside.
– Gradual relaxing: 8 March – meet one person outside socially; 29 March – group of 6 or 2 households outside inc. private gardens; 17 May – 30 people outside / groups of 6 or 2 households indoors; 21 June – no legal restrictions on social meetings.
9. Implications of the roadmap for children and youth ministry.
– Not possible at present unless support group or to provide care for children of key workers. A genuine children’s service as an act of worship rather than additional activities is currently allowed.
– Gradual relaxing: 8 March – outside possibility that something in limited numbers allowed by won’t know until guidance published; 29 March – organised sports for adults and children permitted / outdoor parent and child groups for up to 15 parents; 12 April – all indoor children’s activities permitted / indoor parents and child groups with up to 15 parents; 21 June – no legal restrictions on social gatherings.
10. Worldwide the global number of cases of COVID are dropping dramatically.
11. 2.5 million deaths about to be recorded making it the 7th worst plague in world history in terms of deaths.
12. UK has 5th highest numbers of death in world from COVID. Significantly higher than other island nations. But is a world leader in vaccine rollout with aim that all adults offered first dose of vaccine by 31 July. Vaccine rollout has reduced hospital admissions and is leading to the easing of restrictions. There is still some ways to go but there are good reasons to be optimistic.
13. There are 3 new variants (UK, South African, Brazilian). We are in early days in terms of their spread. The vaccine is less effective but not markedly so against these variants.
14. The big push now is for the vaccine to be sent to poor nations.
15. The pandemic has led to the rich getting richer (Big tech. doing very well) and the poor getting poorer.
16. Of the healthcare workers in our churches, there will be some on the frontline doing the work, others off sick with COVID or other health issues, some who are shielding or vulnerable and not able to work, then others who have been deployed into other areas they have not worked before.
17. How are doctors and nurses feeling? Tired from relentless work, drained, emotionally fatigued at suffering, lonely and isolated, spiritually dry. Some are feeling out of their depths. Others who are unable to work feeling guilty. Likely increase in mental health and PTSD among workers.
18. Some Christian doctors and nurses have reported an increase appreciation for the urgency of the gospel, colleagues being open to talking about life, death and God, the need for the hope of Jesus Christ.
19. How can you support medics in your church?
– Walk alongside them in love. Check in on them and pray for them.
– Prayer support – dedicated prayer meeting or prayer team.
– Offer 1-2-1 walks or meet ups – because of shift work they might be available during the day but also unable to get to church.
– Remind them of important of rest.
– People to get in touch with them and encourage them.
20. What to pray for medic? Pray for comfort, strength, wisdom, peace which comes from the Lord. Pray they would know God’s grace is sufficient. Pray they would see the work God has called them to as ministry. Pray that they wouldn’t just get through this but have gospel opportunities. Pray that they would know God is with them in the suffering and that there will be an end to it. Pray they would know Jesus as their only hope and that their identity is in Christ.
21. CMF 7 Day Prayer Guide available HERE.
22. A reminder that though the government is allowing us to do certain things at certain stages, many in congregation may not feel safe or ready to do so and we need to be aware of this.