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The Omicron Variant: A Pastoral Letter from the Vicar

Dear friends,

Together with the Director of Operations, Richard Summers, I have been giving very careful thought to how Great Saint Mary’s should respond to the rapid increase in the spread of Covid cases which are, largely, the Omicron variant.

The Church of England has revised its guidance based on the latest Government guidance, and we will continue follow that exactly, with additional advice from our friends and colleagues in the University.

The decision-making responsibility in this regard rests legally with the Incumbent, and I will exercise that with care, always in consultation with Richard and the churchwardens.

In the meantime it seems that most people are ‘self-policing’ and that’s good. Many who have booked tickets for services are (understandably) cancelling them, and I am not expecting to see huge congregations. Therefore I see no reason to cancel any services at present, unless a worsening scenario results in revised guidance being issued. Obviously I hope and pray that will not be necessary.

The clergy are diligent in testing and taking care, and I urge you as strongly as I can to take a lateral flow test before coming to church, even if, like me, you have had your third vaccination. This is a good way of keeping staff, volunteers, and other worshippers safe. Inside the building please spread out, keep your mask on (including when singing), and follow the directions of our volunteer stewards and staff members with patience and gentleness.

Meanwhile, we watch developments closely. I think that what Great St Mary’s has to offer those who need Light and Hope right now is much needed, and my intention is that we will continue as planned. Please join me in praying for that - but above all, for yourselves, and those whom you love. Take care, don’t take unnecessary risks, and know how much you are loved and valued by me - but, more importantly, by God.

Omicron is (literally) the ‘little o’ of the Greek alphabet, which seems ironic compared to the impact of its synonymous variant. I cannot resist reflecting that the Christ of Revelation needs the entire alphabet of Greek letters in self-ascription: the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last. In the same passage He tells us that He is coming soon. May the remainder of Advent lead us to know the salvation that only He brings.

With every blessing

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