Letter to all members and friends of Old High St Stephen’s Church
from the Rev Peter W Nimmo
20 March 2020
‘I will be with you always’
(from Jesus’ commission to his disciples: Matthew 28.20)
We are all having to make sure we look after one another as the Coronavirus becomes a major public health issue. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, ‘Let us not give up the habit of meeting together’, for our faith is strengthened when we to meet and worship together.
So it is very sad, but, I’m afraid, necessary that all our meetings, for worship and other purposes, have been suspended until further notice, following the advice we have been given from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Government.
Some people have to stay at home because they think they might have symptoms that they don’t want to pass on, and that is the correct thing to do if you want to love your neighbour in this environment. Others will have to stay at home because they are vulnerable to infections, and it’s right that they should do so. I do urge you all to take seriously the medical and hygiene advice which we are all being offered.
In this situation, our congregation will have three priorities:
• Keeping in touch with one another
• Continuing our worship and prayer
• Continuing to care for our neighbours, in Christ’s name.
Keeping in touch
Let us make a special effort, as a church, to keep in contact with each other, especially those who need to stay at home for any reason and those with particular needs.
I am asking our elders to please telephone all the families in their districts, to make sure that they have all they need, and to offer reassurance.
All our church members and adherents can also be doing that with one another. It may well be that your telephone conversations could include a prayer.
You might not be able to visit someone at home, but do give them a phone call from time to time. Make use of email and social media when appropriate. If you’re not allowed to visit someone in hospital or a nursing home, send them a card or a letter.
Our pastoral assistant, Rev Arthur Sinclair, is now working from home, and keeping in touch via phone with the housebound folk he would normally be visiting.
And please continue to let Arthur and I know when people are ill, at home or in hospital, or if they are having to self-isolate, or about any other pastoral needs. We will be in touch, even if we can’t visit personally.
Prayer and worship
We are making use of technology to ensure that our worship and prayer continues. Extracts from our last two Sunday services are already online, and can be accessed via our website or social media. For those unable to access the internet, we can send out CDs or USB sticks – please let Pat Macleod, our Church Administrator, know of anyone who could benefit from those.
To keep everyone up to date, we will send out information on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We will also make use of emails, so please ensure that Pat MacLeod has your correct email address, and encourage others to let her have their emails. Feel free to share emails widely, and to encourage others to sign up (via Pat) And if you know people who aren’t online, please do phone them to keep them up to date.
Caring for our neighbours
I am glad to say that we have had very good help and advice from the Church of Scotland and Inverness Presbytery. We will let you know about any further initiatives which might happen during the next few weeks. We should all do what we can for those in more difficult circumstances, eg by donating food to those in need, or helping those who can’t get out to shop. Our Mission Development Worker, Dot Getliffe, is taking on new roles, and she will be particularly looking out for initiatives which can help us and others.
A final word
We are grateful to all who contribute to the work of the church in so many ways, but we are aware that some of you still bring your Sunday offering in cash to our services. If you do not have a Standing Order for your church offering, would you please seriously consider doing so, so that we continue to have a source of income to maintain the work of the church at this time? Please contact Pat, our Church Administrator, or your elder, and we will arrange that.
These times perhaps reminds us what the Church is really about. Scripture reminds us to always place our ultimate trust in God. So let us continue with prayers, and reading the Bible, trusting God to be with us and to protect us. And may we also find good, practical ways to show how we love our neighbour, just as God loves us.
National Day of Prayer
This Sunday night, at 7pm, Christian churches across Scotland are encouraging people to place a lighted candle in their window, and to say the following prayer. Whether you light a candle or not, I encourage you to use the sentiments in this prayer to mould your own prayers in the days ahead:
For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.
May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.
Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being, Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.
And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
May God bless us all,
If you know of someone in our church family who does not have access to the internet, please print this off and put it through their door, or contact us and we will get this letter to them by some means.
* * *
NB in email addresses, replace <a> with @
Minister: The Rev Peter W Nimmo 01463 250 802 PNimmo<a>churchofscotland.org.uk
Mission Development Worker: Dot Getliffe DCS 07766 910 171 getliffe<a>churchofscotland.org.uk
Pastoral Assistant: The Rev Arthur Sinclair 01463 716288
Church Administrator: Mrs Pat MacLeod 079 342 85924 invernesschurch<a>gmail.com