In the aftermath of the announcement on 17th March 2020 by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of the suspension of all public worship in churches, and other church events that would bring groups of people together, we at St Giles feel it is very important to keep the spirit of our worship and activities alive, and not allow the virus crisis to stifle it. Accordingly, we are continually working out ways of "Keeping Going" through the crisis. We are publishing here the details of how we are Keeping Going with the life of our church, so please re-visit this page to read all about it.
Church Opening Times
The church building is open for visitors and private prayer between 10.00am and 3.00pm every day. Due to virus hygiene problems, the Garden House cannot be used at present.
On arrival, please read the notices about virus precautions and follow the guidance - hand sanitiser is provided. For those using the NHS app, our QR code is displayed in the porch - others please give track and trace details in the visitors' book.
At the back of the Church
For virus protection reasons all books, magazines, leaflets, etc. have been removed. There are Prayer Squares for those in need of prayer support, and green hearts for climate change.
Sunday morning services at 11.15am have resumed following Lockdown 2. These alternate between holy communion and lay-led morning prayer.
Those members of our congregation who are shielding or self-isolating, and anyone else who would like to join in, are invited to take part in our "worship at home but together". A simple service sheet, together with readings, prayers and a sermon can be downloaded from this site, or received via e-mail beforehand. Using this material, at 11.15am on Sunday we take time to say and read the service in our own homes, so that although we are physically apart, we are worshipping together.
Hereford Diocese is offering an on-line service each Sunday from different venues; these can be accessed on the diocese's YouTube channel.
At the beginning of Lent we were gathering in the church at 5.45pm on Wednesdays for hot drinks, cake and conversation, followed by a short session of meditation and prayers led by Dr. Margaret Clark. Once the lockdown began, Margaret prepared a written meditation for circulation by e-mail each Wednesday for us to reflect upon 'at home but together'. After Easter all agreed to continue with these Wednesday Meditations. If you would like to be added to the circulation list to receive them so you can join in, please contact Liz Woodall via the Get in Touch page. After the event, the texts are being published on the Wednesday Meditations page.
At times when the church is closed, the grounds remain open and are an ideal spot for some peaceful contemplation and/or private prayer. The comfortable bench below the east window commands a splendid view across the town's rooftops to Clee Hill, and the songbirds provide lovely background music.
Keeping in Touch
Obviously, we are relying heavily on the internet to pass on information and keep up with everyone's news, and on e-mail and 'phones for more personal matters.
Here on ACNY the Parish Magazine page features larger articles and messages from the Rector and the Diocese. In the News & Notices section you will find news up-dates, the current week's pewsheet from the Benefice, Bishop Richard's weekly videos, and material for each Sunday's worship "at home but together".
On Facebook we are frequently posting news stories, community information that may be useful in the lockdown, and the occasional piece of comfort. The Rector is posting a range of material on the Ashfords Benefice Facebook page.
The Rector is always available on the 'phone or by e-mail.
Our Churchwardens, Merlin and Rob, are also available to help with problems - contact details on the Get in Touch page.
Giving to St Giles
Pretty well every organisation in the country has suffered financially from the virus crisis, and churches are no exception. With no services during the months of lockdown there were no weekly collections; there were no visitors to make donations; and all fund-raising events had to be cancelled. The loss of income for St. Giles has been significant, and it is likely that all of our general reserves will be wiped out by the end of 2020. Donations from parishioners and visitors will be most gratefully received - they can be dropped into the floor safe by the church door, or passed direct to the Treasurer. Any donations that can be Gift Aided will be boosted by 25% thanks to HM Treasury.
Thank you for your support during this very difficult time. Please pray for an early end to the crisis, and for those who are caught by the virus.
As always, there is comfort to be found in the Bible; Dr Margaret Clark read this to us at the beginning of the crisis, back in March 2020:
You that live in the shelter of the Most High, and lodge under the shadow of the Almighty; who say “The Lord is my safe retreat, my God the fastness in which I trust”; he himself will snatch you away from traps or raging tempests.
He will cover you with his pinions, and you shall find safety beneath his wings. You shall not fear the hunter’s trap by night or the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that stalks in darkness or the plague raging at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side or ten thousand close at hand, but you it shall not touch. His truth will be your shield and your rampart.
With your own eyes you shall see all this; you will see the punishment of the wicked. The Lord is your safe retreat; you have made the Most High your refuge. No evil shall befall you, no calamity shall come upon your home, for he has charged his angels to guard you wherever you go; to lift you on their hands for fear you should strike your foot against a stone. You may tread on the lion and the adder; you will tread safely on the young lion and the serpent.
[And the Lord says:] “Because his love is set on me, I will deliver him; I will lift him beyond danger, for he knows me by my name. When he calls upon me, I will answer; I will be with him in time of trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honour. I will satisfy him with long life to enjoy the fullness of my salvation.”