During recent weeks some of your GB groups have re-opened and you’ve been able to welcome back some or all of the girls and young women. I’m really grateful to all those who’ve worked hard on risk assessments and COVID-19 secure procedures to make this possible. However, in other places, decisions have been taken to continue connecting with the group members via Zoom or by hand-delivering activity materials because leaders haven’t yet felt able to ensure the safety of all those who might come to a group, or perhaps because churches or other venues are not yet open.
In each case, you’ll have made decisions based on your own particular situation and context because the scenarios in which you’re all serving are many and varied and can’t easily or appropriately be compared with one another.
Many of you may have begun to work carefully on future plans for your group and have thought much about what might be possible in the coming weeks, especially as we approach Advent and Christmas. However, I’m aware that the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in many parts of the country may now have necessitated some re-thinking of those plans.
It may well be that this ongoing situation is causing you to experience the tension between wanting to ensure everyone’s safety whilst also meeting their spiritual and emotional needs. It might be that you’re feeling the weight of other people’s expectations which don’t necessarily align with your own view about what’s wise. It may be that you have anxieties because of your own particular family or personal situation, which are not widely known amongst those you serve.
These are challenging times for all those of us who find ourselves in positions of responsibility and leadership, not least because others look to us to make decisions on their behalf or sadly, sometimes, criticise us for the decisions that we’ve made or helped them to make.
I’m simply writing to assure you all of my prayers and support as you and other local leaders wrestle with the practical guidance offered by both the Government and the Girls’ Brigade and also with the emotions and feelings of those you serve. These continue to be challenging days, so I encourage you to be very aware of each other within your group of leaders and across your districts and regions so that you can support each other as appropriate.
It’s important that Government and Girls’ Brigade guidance is followed and that all local leaders understand the responsibilities that you carry as you make decisions which impact upon others. I appreciate that there may well be good reason in some circumstances for even greater caution so please do feel able to lead as you feel appropriate in your particular context, seeking support from district and regional colleagues as necessary.
I appreciate that as we approach Advent and Christmas there will be a good deal of disappointment around not being able to meet and celebrate in the usual ways. However, I encourage you to continue to help others to consider the safety of all as a priority and take this opportunity of finding new and innovative ways of drawing meaning from these seasons of the year and relaying their message to others.
These are uncertain days in which we’re being asked to lead and there’s no telling how long our current situation will continue. But in the midst of all this uncertainty, anxiety and fragility, there are things that remain certain and sure – God is still God, God’s character and nature of faithfulness and love remain and God is still with us. As those who follow and trust in Christ we’re not without hope. Our amazing God is unchanging, faithful and present with us.
May we find comfort in those certainties as we journey through these days together.
Rev. Gill Newton