Congregations of churches across Lancashire and further afield approach Sunday knowing it has a particular poignancy.
For the first time buildings are closed to public worship in response to the Coronavirus outbreak … a cause of deep sadness. But doors are open in different ways, many churches will choose to be open for private prayer during the day, making sure appropriate precautions are in place.
A number are innovating with livestream services. This includes one in Clitheroe, Lancashire which has also offered to host a Diocesan Livestream service at 9am.
The ‘9am Live from the Diocese of Blackburn’ will provide an all-age opportunity for online collective worship and prayer. It will encompass different traditions, while extending the welcome to those who might not readily walk into a church, but are invited to join in online.
The service will be led by the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, and will reflect the themes of Mothering Sunday and the National Day of Prayer and Action.
In keeping with celebrating the ways in which parishes are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak and reaching out in new missional ways at this time, the YouTube event will be hosted by St James Church in Clitheroe (pictured) on their YouTube channel. Sensible precautions have been put in place, with no congregation in attendance and all participants practicing safe distancing.
Bishop Jill said: “Mothering Sunday is a bittersweet day, pain mixed with joy. This Sunday, many are experiencing the bereavement of not physically being together in public worship, many are not able to see older parents and grandparents because of the Coronavirus restrictions, many are living in fear and isolation."
“But this Sunday my prayer is we might find joy together in our pain, as we find new ways to meet with each other and with the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, asking him to stop the spread of the virus in our nation and protect all who live in fear.”
St James’ Vicar Rev. Mark Pickett added: “Jesus used a boat, Wesley used a box, today we are using the internet to proclaim the same message of hope, healing and help in these troubled times. We are delighted that we at St James can offer this service to the whole diocese. It is just another way that we can still be the church even if we cannot gather in church.”
Ronnie Semley, 20 March 2020