From the Pastor
From the Pastor…
Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12 ESV
By the time you will have received this edition of Fellowship News it will have been 16 weeks since we last met together as a church congregation. I do not know if I can recount a time when I haven’t been to church for 16 consecutive Sundays in person. In fact it is a first for me. And it may be for some of you guys as well if you were raised in the church. And if not, it may be the first time in many years.
I am counted among the grateful for Zoom, Facebook, Email, Youtube, Instagram, and smartphones that have helped us during these times. But I cannot help but feel like John writing to (what we presume is) the Church at Ephesus. Writing, video, and zoom prayer meetings are wonderful substitutes for the gathered church, but nothing quite completes my joy like being able to talk and to minister face to face. I know I am not alone in the congregation in feeling this.
As you may be aware, the government’s latest relaxation of lockdown planned for the 4th of July stipulates that gathered worship services can begin anew under certain criteria. We have not made any formal decisions as a leadership team yet, but through some early discussions with a few people, I would say that I am cautious but hopeful about getting church up and running soon. However, please don’t expect much in the way of meeting for July.
As you will be aware, our church has a large number of our congregation over the age of 70, as well we have some who will be shielding because of underlying health concerns. Because of this, we have to be really diligent about opening at the right time and in the right way. There will be much to discuss, to decide, and to implement over the coming weeks as we think about social distancing, keeping the church well sanitised, how we set the church up in the safest and most sensible way possible, what services will look like, and how we balance all of this with two other churches using our building. We will value your prayers as a leadership team for God’s wisdom and His protection over us during these coming weeks.
We will keep you guys up to date on email, social media, and through the Fellowship News and the church diary. Keep an eye on these for when we will meet together again. Know that it is my desire to see you face to face and that I will find much joy in seeing this happen. If it takes a bit longer than anticipated, please be patient with us, we will be moving as quickly as we think wise and have an eye out first and foremost for the safety of the congregation.
To quote the Queen in her latest televised address, “We will meet again.”
In Christ with Love,
Pastor Vincent Sacco
From the Pastor…
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,
1 Thessalonians 2:17 ESV
This has been a really strange time hasn’t it? I write to you on Wednesday the 27th of May, and thus know that some of the lockdown restrictions may have been altered by the time you are reading this. However, at this current time, I know that many of you will be eagerly missing family and friends. You may be, as I am, missing being able to gather on a Sunday morning and at other times as a church fellowship. I do not fancy being apart from the church body. My time as your pastor has been short, but I have come to enjoy being at Middlesbrough Baptist, and it is odd to be isolated to our own homes in all the various online platforms we use to meet for church, or for prayer meetings, or for leadership team meetings.
I thought of the verse above from 1 Thessalonians as I was considering how to write. Paul was separated from the Thessalonians for a time and he felt it. He had a great desire to see church fellowship face to face. Yet he was separated in person, not in heart. This may be a good way of thinking about church life now. We are separated in person. And thank goodness for phones, letters, and all the technology that makes it easier to keep in touch. But we are also together in heart as God’s people. These are lonely days being in lockdown for so long and so socially-isolated. I feel it acutely having had mine and Emma’s parents and Em’s grandmother’s trip cancelled to come visit us and generally being apart from friends. I know many of you guys will feel this too. So it will be all the more lovely when we are able to see each other face to face.
Please know, Church, that we miss you and hope to see you again soon. We’ve tried to organise amongst the leadership to make sure that we keep in regular touch with the members of the fellowship. We may have done this imperfectly, and I apologise for this. But do know that you are loved and that we value you all as members of our fellowship.
Until we see each other soon, let’s continue to pray for one another, to meet together in prayer over zoom, and to sit in fellowship in the word and song and prayer on Sundays together. We value your prayers as a leadership as we continue to learn and to explore ideas and ways of being church effectively during this time. And pray together about how God may be using this time of social-isolation and technological advance in the church to advance us into new and exciting places of ministry in the future to come.
If you would like to talk or need anything, my number is 07860 661136 and my email is email@example.com. Do not hesitate to get in touch. I would love to pray with you and be a help to you in any way I reasonably can do.
In Christ, Pastor Vincent Sacco