Emergency Bulletin 20 March 2020: Action Stations

Full Emergency Bulletin

The Vicar writes:

We are in the midst of an unprecedented emergency, so I hope you’ll forgive my use of navy jargon.  

“Action Stations!” is the order to bring a warship to the highest state of readiness in the face of an imminent attack. But once the ship’s company have rushed to their stations, there is often much watching and waiting. Will the attack come from apparently empty skies, the horizon of the sea, or from beneath the waves? Is it a false alarm?
We too are fighting an invisible foe- the Coronavirus: is it on our hands, our face, the doorknob? The whole situation feels both scary and unreal.

In this emergency bulletin, I outline how we can take action by caring for the needy and praying, and I hope that you will respond to these requests quickly.

First we must care for one another, in particular those who are over 70 or vulnerable, who are trying to observe government advice to self-isolate.

Bovey is blessed with a good community spirit. If you are in need, please graciously accept help from people you know and trust, but exercise due caution with offers of help from strangers. Our first duty is to care for family, neighbours and friends, and I hope that the existing relationships within church small groups and congregations will help us to care. 

If you are offering help, please don’t promise what you may not be able to sustain for the long haul we face.
For those who are isolated and do not have family living locally, we are setting up an Emergency Care Team of church members vouched for by the Parish Church, who you can trust.

Some may be isolated themselves, but will be able to phone regularly for a chat, encouragement and a prayer. Others who are not in isolation will be able to fetch and carry groceries, medication, or take your dog for a walk.

We are also involved in the plans of Bovey Parish Coronavirus Action Group.  They are aiming to deliver cooked food and set up a community hotline for those needing practical help. Things should become active by the middle of next week.

No ship can remain at action stations for the duration of a war, so once the immediate danger has passed, a new routine called Defence Watches is established. Half the crew rests while the other half stays vigilant.

We have been warned that this emergency may last for months, so we would be wise to develop our own routines: not watching every news bulletin or reading every alarming article on Facebook- ration yourself to once a day! We should develop a routine of checking on family, friends and neighbours.

As Vicar, I am in this for the long haul, but my family and I are self-isolating at the moment. I’ve never known things so busy, and the phone rarely stops. So please be patient with unanswered emails, and try to make non-urgent calls to the Vicarage between 9am and noon each day so that I can make calls out and prepare things properly! I will be trying to keep Tuesday as a day off.

The Prime Minister hopes that we can ‘send Coronavirus packing’ with good hygiene and a scientific breakthrough, but I believe we also need to pray. 

This is a time to develop a routine or Habit of Prayer. You now have time as never before to pray, and read your bible in a systematic way. This bulletin contains a simple form of daily prayer for personal use, and small group leaders, care team and staff members will gladly advise you on other resources. The next bulletin will focus on helping families with children cooped up at home!

If you find prayer on your own difficult, there are many ways of joining with others, which I’ve listed on p.3. even though we cannot meet together in church or small groups.

Bovey Baptist church and PPT are live-streaming a special service this Sunday - details are on p.4
I will be leading a short act of prayer via the Zoom app on Monday and Fridays at 9am, and Wednesday at 10am: see details on p.3
The Church buildings of PPT and St Mary’s Hennock will be open for private prayer daily from 9am to 5pm. Please observe physical distancing from others you may find in there. We cannot provide hand gel at present, so be careful with hygiene.

This is a call to Actions Stations!
We need you to care and to pray.
Have you joined the Family Roll yet?
We need volunteers for the Emergency Care Team
Could you call, chat and pray?
Could you fetch and deliver to the doorstep (but not go in)?
We need volunteers to clean the church while it remains open, taking care to protect themselves.

This emergency will test the quality of every person and social institution - the family, local and national government, business, the NHS and of course the Church. While some are filled with fear, and panic-buying, others are rising to the challenge.

Let us remember who we follow - a risen Lord and Saviour. If this life is all, then perhaps we should look after ourselves at all costs. But if Christ is risen, then  “He has given us and has won the victory. Therefore, beloved, be steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain!” (1 Cor 15.56)

        yours in Christ

        Graham