All church services in Harborough have been suspended - but they are staying open for as long as possible for private prayer and quiet contemplation
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The local Anglican churches have also banned face-to-face groups immediately as the coronavirus threat deepens.
The churches affected are St Dionysius in the town centre, St Nicholas in Little Bowden, St Hugh’s in Northampton Road, St Peter’s and St Paul’s in Great Bowden and All Saints in Lubenham.
And Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Fairfield Road, Harborough, will be halting all public services from Friday evening March 20.
But all the churches have stressed that they are staying open for as long as possible for private prayer and quiet contemplation.
The Rev Barry Hill, Harborough Anglican Team leader, told the Harborough Mail: “We are working hard to keep church buildings open as space to wander, ponder and for personal prayer as long as possible, albeit with strict precautions in place.”
A new health and safety poster has been put up on each church door telling visitors: “If you or anyone in your household has a new or persistent cough or temperature please do not come in, stay in your homes and seek advice.
“Please keep a minimum of two metres between you and other people when inside the church building.
“Please wash your hands or use your personal sanitiser before and after visiting to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.”
Harborough’s Anglican churches are also launching a new video service at 5pm each Sunday.
“The details are on the special Coronavirus page of the Harborough Anglican Team website,” said Barry.
“Anyone is welcome to join in the video service.”
You can visit the Anglican team’s coronavirus website here: http://www.harborough-anglican.org.uk/coronavirus-informationBarry said: “Although services have been forced to stop for a season, churches are not shutting but changing.
“We will continue to try and show God’s love to all - and to serve all in our communities, especially the most vulnerable.”
The senior clergyman added: “As well as church buildings remaining open, some simple ‘use-at-home’ paper services have been written.
“They are available online or in paper copy from the back of each church building.
“And people are continuing to sign up for the Volunteer Bank we are co-ordinating in conversation with community partners.
“As we read in the Bible ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’.”
Meanwhile, Father Owen O’Neill, the parish priest at Harborough’s Our Lady of Victories, told the Mail: “I can now confirm that as from Friday evening, March 20th all public services in the Catholic Church will cease to be celebrated throughout the entire country.
“We will, however, be keeping our churches open for private visits and prayer for anybody wishing to do so.”
The churchman called on his worshippers to pray for everyone hit by the coronavirus – medical and caring staff as well as victims.
“All Church members are encouraged to spend some time in their own homes in praying for all victims of the virus, for the medical and caring staff and for all who are striving to find a cure for this virus,” said Father O’Neill.
“We join our prayers to those of our fellow Christians locally and nationally, and indeed with peoples of all faiths and none, for a successful outcome and conclusion to rid all peoples and nations of this coronavirus.”