Welcome back to our parish magazines and welcome back to worship.
The past few months have been difficult for all of us. We have been living through a period that is unprecedented in recent years. We have tried our best to keep in touch with people via email and Whatsapp videos. Conducting worship remotely has been challenging and has also presented us with an opportunity to reach out to people who have not previously been part of our congregations. We have tried to be creative in worship and I personally have been trying to improve my guitar playing skills!
The last time we produced parish magazines was before Easter and our worship was cancelled until we could meet together again in July. Our Easter servicers were cancelled, including our Walk of Witness. Our Pentecost services were cancelled, and we are just beginning to get the rhythm back on track with our church services. We did our best to try and replicate our service pattern remotely and we were challenged on how to do a Walk of Witness as one person being filmed on a mobile phone. I hope the quality of our videos improved as time went on and that as many people as possible benefitted from them and from the reflections sent out by Rev’d Trevor. Our care groups and visiting groups have also done as much as they can in keeping in touch with people. It has not been possible to keep constant contact with everyone and some people have complained to me that they have felt left out. I am sorry that some people feel this way, but we have tried our best in severely difficult circumstances to do as much as we can to include everyone in ministry.
We have also lost some valuable members of our congregations during the past few months. All our churches have experienced loss and we hold our bereaved families in our hearts and in our prayers.
We will be expanding our range of services as time goes on. We have been inhibited by the need for a deep clean of our churches if we meet together in church more than once a week. This is due to the fact that the Coronavirus lives for up to three days on hard surfaces. Bearing this in mind, we are going to reintroduce weekday services in all our churches with effect from the first week in November. That means that from Wednesday 4th November there will be a Holy Communion service at St, Luke’s at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, and Holy Communion at St. Thomas’ at 9.30 a.m. and at St. Mary’s at 10.30 a.m. on Thursdays. We hope as many people as possible will be able to join us during the week. These services won’t contain music and will be adhering to social distancing, but they will be Holy Communion none the less.
During the lock down period we have sustained huge financial losses. This is obviously because we have not been open for worship and that means that money has not been coming in on the plate. Also, as we have not been able to hold weddings, funerals and baptisms in church the collections from these services have dried up and also we have not been able to hold any fundraising events. I would like to recommend to you the Parish Giving Scheme. This scheme enables people to give via direct debit and is completely safe. There is a myth going around that people are forced to increase their giving every year but this is not true as you can chose to increase your giving or not, it’s whenever you choose. The advantage of the Parish Giving Scheme during the pandemic has been that our churches have still received the offerings given through the scheme. Each church treasurer or gift aid secretary has details on how you can join, and we will be grateful to all those who sign up.
Our service schedule for November has been severely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. We have been trying to work out how we can effectively facilitate our annual All Souls’ services and we have come up with several scenarios. Bearing in mind that things are changing very quickly we have decided to postpone the All Souls’ services until we can invite all bereaved families to church, so hopefully this will be about springtime next year.
The pandemic has also affected our Remembrance Sunday commemorations. We have decided to hold all three of our Remembrance Sunday morning services outside around the cenotaphs in our churchyards. This will mean that we won’t need to restrict access to our churches and we can have as many people as come along to the services taking part. As long as people keep a social distance outside we can have as many people as turn up to the services. The Cenotaph service in London has taken place outside since its inception in 1919 so we should be OK. It may be cold and wet but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
We will be able to tell you in our next magazine what’s happening over Christmas. At this moment in time it looks unlikely that we will be able to host our usual carol services and Christmas worship. We will need to check the regulations nearer the time and make decisions closer to Christmas.
We will be welcoming Caroline Davidson to the ministry team during November. Caroline is training for Reader ministry and will be at one of our churches once a month to lead worship. Caroline will preach under supervision once per term during the training period.
I hope that you remain well and keep being positive. We will get through this period together.
Your friend and Team Rector
A big Thank You to
Jonathan and Trevor
for all the videos and
reflections they have
shared with us