OAM’s response to local restrictions

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise in certain areas, we are seeing more local restrictions being imposed on regions. When such restrictions are applied, OAM commit to carefully considering the legislation and accompanying guidance to ascertain whether it is safe and legal to continue street evangelism in such places.

Thankfully, most local restrictions have been designed to keep households apart in settings where they have been mixing without social distancing (namely homes, pubs and restaurants). Such restrictions do not, therefore, impede open-air work in these areas. Our Evangelists, Associate workers and their registered supporters continue to adhere to our social distancing and hygiene procedures when operating in the open-air. For this reason, generally speaking, local restrictions haven’t affected the day-to-day work of the Mission.

However, some local restrictions have been different in that they restrict movement (e.g. not to leave home except for essential purposes). When such restrictions were announced we have responded accordingly. For example, earlier measures in Leicester, meant that it was not wise for our workers in those areas to engage in any open-air activity for the duration of the restrictions.

As a Mission we look at each local restriction on a ‘case-by-case’ basis in order to ascertain whether we can safely and legally continue operations in that area.

More recently, in Caerphilly County and Rhondda Cynnon Taf County Borough, restrictions limit travel to and from these regions, ‘without good reason’. It is, therefore, unwise for our local Associate workers to travel to these regions and lead open-airs. Yet, one Associate worker is resident of Caerphilly County and these local measures do not prevent him working in the open-air within the county.

Throughout this pandemic we have sought to heed the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, ‘Only let you conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27a).

Coronavirus Update

Since our last review meeting, we have been encouraged by the opportunities our workers have found in the open-air. Whilst not actively handing out literature (except from a board/table to those who have engaged with us), there have been numerous profitable conversations with those who show a real interest in the gospel message.

The overwhelming feedback we have received is that it is wise to proceed with a slow and measured easing of restrictions, where appropriate. We are grateful to the patience of our Staff Evangelists, Associate workers and supporters and their adherence to current measures.

Whilst we wish to facilitate open-air evangelism we must give due diligence to considering Government legislation and guidance. With increased fear in the community because of a rise in positive cases and more localised restrictions being imposed, it was felt that we could only ease current measures slightly.

Although the Committee continue to recommend in most locations a maximum of four (Evangelist/Associate worker plus three registered supporters), based upon feedback received from our workers, it is recognised that it may be beneficial to increase the size of a team to a maximum of six (i.e. Evangelist/Associate worker plus five registered
supporters) in certain towns/cities. However, each Evangelist/Associate worker must ensure that an open-air venue is suitable to have a larger presence on the street. Social distancing must not be contravened, between team members, passers-by and any queues for shops/branches. Local authorities and the Police can issue fines from
breaching social distancing laws and so our public conduct must not bring our testimony into question. It is for this reason that the Committee recommend in most locations a maximum of four is sufficient.

These changes will come into force on Saturday, 19th September.

Our workers and registered supporters, should only go out into the open-air if they are not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms and are fulfilling the criteria of our risk assessments and insurance responsibilities by adhering to our current guidance and procedures.

A further review meeting is scheduled for Monday, 19th October with representatives from the Staff Evangelists and Committee in attendance.

Despite the frustrations and restrictions, which are currently part-and-parcel of daily life, we rejoice that the gospel continues to go forth on the streets of our nation. We are able to proclaim the sinfulness of sin coupled with God’s love in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – Who is the key to life. May our conduct in a watching world commend the good news of Jesus and may many come to Him in repentance and faith!

16th September 2020

Annual Supporters’ Day (Online)

Timetable:

11:00am  Annual Supporters’ Day Video streamed on YouTube and on this page.

Reports of the work from each of the Evangelists and ministry by Prof. Andy McIntosh

7:00pm Informal ‘Zoom’ meeting (registration required)

An informal meeting including interviews, testimonies and reports from our workers

To register for the ‘Zoom’ meeting, please click here.

Coronavirus Update

The process of returning our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers to the streets has been slow and measured, giving due diligence to current Government legislation and guidance. Our return to open-air evangelism continues to be prayerful and careful, seeking to be God-honouring in our conduct. In a ‘watching world’ the finger of accusation would readily be pointed at us if our conduct was not deemed to safe and legal. The Lord Jesus reminded those He sent out, ‘Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ (Matthew 10:16).

Not only do our measures have a good testimony to maintain in a watching world, as an organisation (bound by Charity and Company law) we have a duty of care towards our workforce. Our workers are not just our Staff Evangelists but also our many Associate workers whose welfare is also our concern.

Throughout this phased-return we have committed to regularly review our measures. The latest such review meeting took place today with feedback received from our Evangelists and several Associate workers. The conclusions reached was that the slow and cautious easing of restrictions should continue, but listening to feedback we feel there is scope to safely and legally make some changes.

From Tuesday, 25th August up to three supporters will be able to join open-airs (still 2 hours in duration). This means a maximum of four can now work as a team (Evangelist/Associate worker plus three supporters). Each supporter must be registered by signing the updated Supporter Training Document, affirming their adherence to the measures in place. These should be returned ASAP for the centrally held register of supporters. Each supporter should travel independently to the open-air, avoiding public transport where possible.

Although we are not in a position to allow tracts/leaflets to be actively distributed during the open-air, there is some scope for movement here also. From Tuesday, 25th August team members will be able to offer appropriate literature to those who have engaged with us (i.e. those who have stopped to listen, talk or browse). Literature should not be held in your hands for long periods, rather picked up and offered from the table or display board. The item of literature should be offered with an extended arm and then retracted as soon as possible so as to ensure social distancing is maintained. Regular hand sanitising (as per existing hygiene protocols) is especially important.

We are grateful for the patience of our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers and their adherence to the measures the Mission has put in place. Adherence is not only necessary to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the message we proclaim, but also to protect our insurance cover. We have risk assessments in place which demonstrate the steps we have taken to mitigate the risk of transmission. Strict adherence to these ensures that our insurance cover is not invalidated.

It was necessary recently to further restrict one of our workers in Leicester owing to a localised ‘lockdown’. As local restrictions are imposed across the country, we will consult Government guidance and legislation and ascertain whether it is safe and legal for operations to continue. For example, in the North of England additional restrictions have been brought in but these do no prevent our workers from operating in this area.

24th August 2020

Latest Report Video

Our latest report video to keep our supporters and supporting churches up-to-date, is now online. Please feel free to share it with anyone who may find it helpful.

Coronavirus Update

Having interpreted the law and Government guidance the Mission took the decision to begin returning our Staff Evangelists in England to the streets from Monday, 22nd June (Wales and Scotland followed shortly afterwards). This return to open-air evangelism saw new social distancing and hygiene procedures established to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the testimony of the Mission. These measures are kept under regular review. Following a review at the end of June we felt the time was right to allow Associate workers in all regions (aged 69 or under, who have no underlying health conditions nor show any COVID-19 symptoms) to begin resuming their open-air outreach from Monday, 6th July.

We are grateful for the careful adherence to these measures put in place to facilitate a return to open-air work and we have been greatly encouraged by the opportunities our workers have encountered since restarting. A further review was held by the Committee on Wednesday, 15th July with some changes to our current practice agreed. Both national and devolved governments have agreed a timetable for ‘shielding’ to end – 31st July in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, 16th August in Wales. Based upon this timetable, we are now in a position to allow our Associate workers (aged 70 and over, not showing any COVID-19 symptoms) to resume open-air work from 1st August in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and from 17th August in Wales.

However, those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable having previously received a letter advising them to shield are advised to take particular care. UK Government advice states. ‘You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible’. In the light of this, we recommend those in this category to consider carefully the risks to their health. No-one is required to go out and it is left to the discretion of each worker. However, please remember this is based upon current Government guidance which, as you are aware, could change as they review measures.

Those who do return to open-air work must adhere to the same hygiene and social distancing measures in force that our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers are currently subject to. This change also includes registered supporters in the open-air. Those aged 70 and over, not showing any COVID-19 symptoms may now support open-air work from 1st August in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and from 17th August in Wales. However, those classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ having
previously received a letter advising them to shield are advised to take particular care and asses the risk to their health.

We thank the Lord that he has enabled our evangelistic output to gather momentum in recent weeks. As the seed of God’s Word is sown, we look to Him that it might fall on good ground and bear fruit in the salvation of the lost. ‘But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.’ (Matthew 13:23).

 

 

 

22nd July 2020

Coronavirus Update

We last communicated with you on 12th June in order to explain the careful steps we were taking to return our Staff Evangelists to the streets. We gave due diligence to interpreting the law and up-to-date Government guidance and, in the light of those, put new measures in place to enable this return. We began doing this with six of our workers on Monday, 22nd June and we were so encouraged by the response. Most open-airs saw people stopping to listen, taking literature and engaging our workers and their supporter in conversation (socially distant).

As a Mission we committed to reviewing these measures carefully on Monday, 29th June. Those involved in that review process were encouraged by the reports from our Staff Evangelists and now believe it is appropriate to begin expanding the work once more.

From Monday, 6th July (in all regions) we are now in a position to allow Associate workers who are aged 69 years or younger, who have no underlying health conditions nor show any COVID-19 symptoms, to return to street evangelism. Unfortunately, is it unwise for us to allow our Associate workers who are 70 and over to return at this time (this is because those within this age bracket are at greater risk). Whilst this will be good news for some and disappointing to others, we are moving forward in a careful manner. The Committee will review this at their next meeting.

Associates workers who are able to return to open-air outreach at this time will be subject to the same working conditions that our Staff Evangelists are currently operate under. These measures include:

  • Associate worker plus one local supporter (who must be registered with OAM in order to demonstrate compliance to new measures).
  • Social distancing (with signage to encourage this).
  • Hygiene procedures (regular hand sanitising and regular cleaning of touched surfaces).
  • Limited literature available from this display board and/or a small literature table (with signage encouraging the taking of literature but discouraging unnecessarily handling items).
  • No active distribution (handing out) of literature.
  • Restricted duration of 90 minutes for each open-air.
  • Associate worker and supporter should travel independently (avoiding public transport).

It was these measures that were under review on Monday, 29th June and we deemed wise to continue. These are careful steps facilitate a return to our streets following the Coronavirus pandemic. No Associate worker will be forced to return should they feel vulnerable in any way.

In view of the local situation in Leicester that has been announced on 29th June, all open-airs in the city are immediately suspended. It may be necessary to do this in other areas too, as and when the Government identify localised coronavirus ‘hotspots’.

In the light of this, we continue to heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27). Please pray that our careful steps would be to God’s glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

 

 

30th June 2020