14th March 2020

Rector’s update 02 – Let us remain calm with these changes

Dear All,

I continue to be impressed by the calm of most people, though I do appreciate that some are feeling extremely anxious, particularly those who are, or are close to someone who is, more vulnerable to this virus.

Following my previous note things have moved on significantly, with the declaration that we are in the ‘Delay’ phase. We have been advised that if we have a temperature or a cough we should self-isolate for seven days, and we have been warned that further measures relating to social distancing are likely to come soon. In addition, we have received more advice from the Church of England. A reminder also to continue washing our hands.

Parish Councils

Over the last two days I have been in contact with representatives from the Parish Councils in Alpheton, Shimpling, and in Long Melford (where a group of community leaders met). All of us are considering in particular how to support the vulnerable in the weeks ahead, and it was heartening to hear how many had already offered to help. Most of us will be leafletted in the next couple of weeks accordingly.

Sunday Services will continue with ‘social distancing’ measures

We are blessed with very large churches so it will be possible to attend with a good distance between congregation members,

and with the following measures.

· We will ask people to hand sanitise on entering

· Communion will be with the bread only

· When receiving communion (not obligatory) we will not queue up.

· At Melford I will serve communion in the Nave (I’ll explain more on the day).

· Sadly but understandably there will be no refreshments (see below).

I do hope that many of us are able to meet together to worship, pray, and encourage one another.

Live Streaming

For those who cannot attend I will be trailing livestreaming of the 10.30am Melford Service this Sunday via Facebook. This can be found by going to the Long Melford Church website , scrolling down to where it says ‘Facebook’, and clicking on the words ‘Holy Trinity Church’ immediately underneath. This should take you to the Facebook page which some of you are already linked to anyway.

The Serving of Refreshments is not permitted

This means that Lent Lunches will have to be cancelled until we are advised otherwise. Likewise we will not be refreshments after services. Apologies to any who turned up on Friday and had not received our email notifying that it was cancelled.



In light of the fact that many tours are likely to cancel, and indeed that we cannot guarantee all guides will be available, tours are being suspended.


We are no longer going to meet at St Catherine’s – we will be offering the opportunity to meet at the Country Park as we try to maintain relationships in a ‘social distanced’ environment.

Psalm 46

This will be read on Sunday, it starts:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

With prayer


Rev’d Matthew Lawson

Rector of Alpheton, Long Melford, and Shimpling


10th March

A note from the Rector (01) … hands and hearts

The situation with coronavirus is becoming increasingly serious. In particular, my thoughts are with those who are in the higher risk groups. It looks as though we will soon be moving from the government’s ‘Contain’ phase to the ‘Delay’ phase. As we do so, many in our church community and in our villages are likely to need to self-isolate, some of whom may be on their own. Accordingly this Friday I am having a meeting with the Chair of the Melford Parish Council and representatives of other village organisations, to discuss how we can most effectively support those most at risk, as well as starting to consider some longer-term issues. I’ve also had a discussion with the chair of Shimpling Parish Council. Following is a brief update on our approach to church-related activities (this will be updated as appropriate).

As you know we have been taking measures over recent weeks to minimise the risk of infection, including hand sanitiser, avoiding handshakes, and being very careful at communion. The Bishop has now instructed us to only serve the bread at communion (so for now we will no longer need chalice bearers). We will continue to worship, however ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to stay away from church please, even if it means causing last minute problems! I have started to investigate how to record or live-stream services just in case.

Lent Lunches(&Similar)
This is an important community event however we recognise that there are a number of risk factors with the current format. Therefore we will continue to meet on Fridays between 12.00pm and 1.00pm for tea and coffee only. This will make it truly a Lent lunch for any who are fasting! I have not had an opportunity to discuss things with those running Coffee and Cake or Alpheton Coffee Pot, however I imagine that we will need to consider something similar. Sanitiser will be available on entry.


Whereas many (but not all) of those attending are likely to be in the lower risk range, we respect and understand however that some of our lovely (and more mature) volunteers may not be able to attend. We plan to continue with Connect; we will continue to serve tea and coffee to parents (carefully). There will however be no shared food and we will ask parents to bring drink and food for their children. We have started wiping down the toys deemed most at risk after the session. If meeting at St Catherine’s becomes unfeasible we are considering meeting at the Country Park to enable us to continue meeting but in a less confined space.

Messy Church
(29th March, 4pm at Melford School) We hope to continue as planned but are in the process of reviewing the arrangements for food. We will pay close attention to advice over the coming days.

Smaller Groups 
If people are meeting, we discourage sharing food (e.g. biscuits) from the same plate or bowl.

Please do wash hands regularly and don’t attend events if you have cold or flu like symptoms. We are also trying to provide sanitiser for people entering every church event. There was a very interesting piece of research on how a virus might spread in the UK and I get the impression this research is helping to inform Government policy – see ‘Contagion’ on the BBC iplayer. This illustrates how effective hand washing can be at limiting the spread of the virus.  


I have been struck by the relative calm in the
church community about the situation, which I hope reflects our faith more than our ignorance! However there will be many people living in fear out there, so we have an opportunity to show how our faith helps us in difficult times. As we focus on washing our hands, let us not forget to allow God to wash our hearts to encourage us to focus on looking outwards and upwards to God and neighbour.
With prayer
Rev’d Matthew Lawson
Rector of Alpheton, Long Melford, and Shimpling
10th March 2020