Coronavirus: St John the Evangelist church in Kensal Green stays open for the healthy to pray

St John the Evangelist is staying open throughout the coronavirus crisis. Picture: @STKensal

St John the Evangelist is staying open throughout the coronavirus crisis. Picture: @STKensal - Credit: Archant

“St Paul’s Cathedral may be closed but we’re not,” says a Kensal Green vicar as coronavirus measures sweep the capital.

Fr David Ackerman, vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Kilburn Lane, is keeping his church doors open every day.

People are coming in to pray or to light candles or simply to sit.

“The public worship has stopped but not praying in church, that’s a different thing,” said Fr Ackerman. “We still have weddings, baptisms and funerals but make sure people don’t gather in groups.

“In church you get people of all ages coming together but we don’t want to infect those who are vulnerable.

“The doors are open every day, people are lighting candles.”

The Church of England has asked local churches to put public worship on hold to stem to spread of coronavirus.

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It has said important life events can go ahead but must be “very significantly scaled back” so people can follow the Government’s social distancing advice.

Over 70s are also “strongly encouraged” not to attend.

He said it was “disgusting” that St Paul’s Cathedral has closed its doors but went no further.

The cathedral announced on March 19 that it was closing for “public safety” but that “Cathedral Ministers are continuing worship and prayer on behalf of all” without the public in attendance.

St Johns, which celebrated its 175th anniversary last year, has approximately 30 pews and a large garden which has been recently landscaped.

“When the weather gets better people can use it, You never know what’s around the corner,” he said.

Events to mark VE Day 75 in May, which marks the day towards the end of World War Two, has been pushed back to August.

“It’s important we can plan and we can look forward.

“I think we’ve felt for a long time we’re in charge, then a virus comes along and everything goes to pieces.

“We’re not in charge and to have a sense of morality, guidance, love of neighbour, purpose matters alot and that actually this is going to bring out the best in people and the worst in people and it will test leaders.

“This will not go on indefinitely. There’s going to be a certain time when things get back to normal.”

An informal ceremony will take place outside on Palm Sunday (April 5) where “those who shouldn’t come shouldn’t come,” he said.

Fr Ackerman gives readers this traditional text:

Go forth into the world in peace.

Be of good courage.

Hold fast that which is good.

Render to no one evil for evil.

Strengthen the fainthearted.

Support the weak.

Help the afflicted.

Show love to everyone.

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