Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Challenging times We are indeed facing challenging and troubling times. For some this has led to a sense of boredom and isolation; for others there have been more fraught or tragic circumstances, whilst for some there has been a welcome respite from the speed and rigours of life and pace.
Church life Since just before Mothering Sunday Churches have been closed for public worship, private prayer and occasional offices like baptisms, weddings and funerals. This restriction has been understandably hard for some but it has also led to innovation and neighbourliness and some degree of good has come of this - Church and community people have been looking out for each other; I was able to be with my own mother on Mothering Sunday for the first time in 30 years. I have recorded and broadcast a number of devotions which have been watched and commented upon by many more people than usually come to church. Here is the latest video and previous videos can be viewed from the VIDEO folder. Prayer material and links to various online worship services are available on the WORSHIP-PRAYER page.
When will churches be open again? The government have said that Churches may open for private prayer from 15thJune but that this must be a supervised activity with proper a proper cleaning regime in place. This might be appropriate for larger busier churches but, after local conversation, we understand thI am sure that people will be wondering about the reopening of our two churches for public worship
The church continues to be open for private prayer on Thursdays and Sundays from 10am - 12 noon, when there will be someone to welcome and ensure hygiene and safety
The Government has made it possible (but not mandatory) for services to resume with strict observation of distancing, hygiene, safety, and other limitations from 5th July.
I have agreed with the Estate that, as the Government has announced the relaxing of regulations, thus allowing vulnerable categories of people out of lock down from the beginning of August, it will be safest to commence public worship from that date at the beginning of August
There is a plan in coming weeks for the Estate to undertake works within St James’ Church whilst the churches are closed. There will be further monitoring and discussion and, should the timing of this be sooner or later than the beginning of August we will let people know electronically and by telephone.
Our priority is compliance and protection of us all, especially the most vulnerable. Should we decide to commence public worship sooner for the participation of those who are less vulnerable we will make it known. Again, our priority is compliance and safety. Meanwhile we continue to welcome people to church on Sundays and Thursdays
Avoiding isolation At the onset of the crisis Jim Watson, chair of the Parish Council, invited a handful of people from the community to meet together (socially distanced) to discuss a coordinated plan to care for people as the need arose. A special careline was set up, volunteer CRB checked responders were identified and several hundred leaflets delivered explaining that people could telephone the careline on 07534 770164, should they need help with shopping, prescriptions, other practical matters, or just to chat if they were feeling isolated. There have been relatively few requests or calls, but the line remains live, should anyone have need to call it
Conclusion I read somewhere recently that the chinese word for ‘crisis’ and the word for ‘opportunity’ are one and the same word in Chinese. In contrast the word ‘disaster’ describes for us circumstances which outstrip our ability to cope. Although Covid-19 has been more challenging for some than others, it remains true that it has presented us with opportunities for neighbourliness, reflection and connectedness. In some ways such a ‘new normal’ is to be welcomed and I, for one, hope that some of the opportunities that this crisis has presented us with will not be lost as life gets back to ‘normal’
Your affectionate friend and chaplain,
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