Following on from Sarah Nicol Knight’s timely letter about the difficulties many of us are having accessing our GPs during the pandemic (Standard, October 8 “Let us see our GP during pandemic”), I wanted to set the record straight about the Church of England and access to the clergy during the initial phase of Covid 19.

It was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call to close the churches for worship.

This was entirely reasonable under the circumstances.

However, banning clergy from their own buildings was nonsensical.

A vital opportunity to classify clergy as essential workers was missed on account of Justin Welby’s advice to “stay at home to set a good example”.

At least our churches could have been open on a limited basis, as they are now, for private prayer.

When we did re-open here at All Saints over the summer our visitors were very appreciative – but it was evident that the sight of shut doors had distressed them (it distressed me); some felt the Church had deserted them in their hour of need.

Frankly it sent a terrible message to the town.

Some of us feel that our archbishops and bishops are woefully out of touch with feelings on the ground (similar issues are emerging with government).

At All Saints we are now offering private prayer on Wednesdays and Saturdays (10am -12pm) as well as regular Sunday worship at 10am.

The views expressed above are purely my own and I would not expect other clergy to agree with them.

However not everyone may be aware that both All Saints and St Mary’s are currently in vacancy - ministry is being enabled by such clergy as are available and by small highly-committed teams of lay people.

All of us who minister have to calculate our own levels of risk, as does the wider community.

But it is good to be “back in business” in these uncertain times.

We are alongside you in prayer and suffering, in hope and support.

Canon Dr Graham Blyth (retired)

8 Rennie Walk, Heybridge