The Revd Clare Downing and Mr Peter Pay, General Assembly Moderators of the United Reformed Church, make the following statement after a new four-week lockdown began in England on 5 November.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
Love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable in the Christian faith. Seeking to protect the most vulnerable from the spread of COVID 19 is an act of love through which we love God.
The United Reformed Church believes that “Christ gives his Church a government distinct from the government of the state. In things that affect obedience to God the Church is not subordinate to the state, but must serve the Lord Jesus Christ, its only Ruler and Head”. Our forebears in the faith withstood persecution and the restriction of their civil liberties for centuries to stand up for this conviction.
The United Reformed Church also believes that “civil authorities are called to serve God’s will of justice and peace for all humankind, and to respect the rights of conscience and belief”. Where governments act for justice and peace for the whole of society, we believe they are following the call of God.
Covid-19 has had its deepest impact on the most vulnerable within our society: those with serious medical conditions, the poor, the elderly and BAME sisters and brothers. To follow the way of Jesus is to stand with the vulnerable seeking justice and peace. In the light of these convictions our Synod Moderators have issued guidance to local churches to help them abide by government restrictions. We will sustain our worship of God and our service to the community whilst upholding restrictions which seek the good of all.
United Reformed Church Synod Moderator’s guidance on using places of worship and community halls during the November lockdown in England
As the governments of Wales, Scotland and England continue to navigate slightly different paths in dealing with the coronavirus, the Synod Moderators commend to all our churches the challenge of the Welsh First Minister, who is encouraging people to think more about doing the right thing to keep ourselves and others safe from Covid-19, rather than forensically examining the latest guidance wondering how far a rule can be pushed or where we might find a loophole to exploit.
While we fully understand how different people will react differently to the measures in place, and while we deeply value meeting together for worship, fellowship and other purposes, we want to ask people to consider what is the best path to follow, not necessarily the one that we can “get away with.”
Please continue to love one another as you love yourself as we work through this pandemic.
Image: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash
Published: 5 November 2020