Dear TVC Church,

With the support of the leadership team I have today taken the decision to temporarily suspend with immediate effect our Sunday gatherings and any large events we had been planning on running.

That means there will be no meeting this Sunday and our planned Daughters event on Saturday is also cancelled. Other activity will continue as planned for the time being.

Throughout this crisis I have kept in close contact with medical consultants within our church that are currently on the frontline with it all. So the decision has been taken in conjunction with their advice. While this decision is a few weeks ahead of government advice we feel it is appropriate for several reasons. Firstly our gatherings are usually over 500 people and as you may be aware Scotland is advising a ban on meetings of this size (for many of our European neighbours it’s meetings over 100). Secondly we have a diverse congregation with a significant percentage of our people falling into the vulnerable category. In addition our auditorium has a very low ceiling which in effect puts us in a relatively confined space with no natural ventilation.

So the decision has not been taken out of any sense of fear or panic. It’s a decision that has been taken prayerfully and is rooted in love and care for our congregation and a sense of responsibility towards the wider Teesside community. At the moment all other smaller events will continue to take place within the Oakwood centre and we will be strongly encouraging our people to meet in their community groups. Both of these with the strong proviso that anyone with a cough, cold or fever should in no circumstances attend.

We have over the last few years developed the ability to live stream our Sunday services. While we won’t be able to do anything this Sunday we will explore what we might deliver to you regularly online in place of our services. As soon as we are clear on what we are doing we will get the relevant information to you.

Throughout this current crisis we will encourage ongoing pastoral care and support of one another through our community groups and also through the many other friendships you naturally have within the church. We will also be considering other ways in which we might facilitate support and care. Again when we are clearer on this we will communicate further.

The whole situation is obviously evolving and changing daily so we will adapt and change our position and advice accordingly. We would therefore encourage you to keep up to date with our communication and where you can to pass the information on to others.

Let me finish with a couple of prayerful reflections. It’s obviously a time of great “shaking” on all sorts of fronts. Hebrews 12:26-29 reminds us that our unchanging, unshakable God is always in the midst of any shaking. And by his love and grace he has placed us firmly in a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And so, as Isaiah 8:12 tells us ….we don’t need to fear and dread what the world fears and dreads at this time. Because we know our unshakable King remains on the throne and we are part of his unshakable kingdom. Our lives are clearly hid in Christ with God. Therefore we have hope and we have prayer. So let us do the job he has placed us on the earth to do at this time. Let’s hold out that hope to the world around us and let us pray to heaven on their behalf that many at this time will discover the unshakable nature of His great love and care.

With love, affection and ongoing prayers

Martin Dunkley (Senior leader TVC Church)

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