LONG MARTON RECTORY, LONG MARTON, APPLEBY-IN-WESTMORLAND CA16 6BN
TELEPHONE 017682 54409
I felt this was the right time to circulate a short letter to everyone I can reach this way, or who are passing through! Hello.
Over the last 6-8 weeks I’ve been making or answering calls from people with specific concerns; listening as different people explain their business situation, about links with far away family and friends, requesting prayer. Many of course are quietly at home, some are working more intensively and some are even busier than usual. Some are eager for our church buildings to open again, others are equally clear that we must stay at home as much as possible. Some appreciate the silence, even solitude, more, while others are desperate to be part of a bigger social gathering. Some are talking a lot; many are struggling to find the right words. Some, heroically, have grasped the moment and done something of significance, while others have quietly focused on a day-to-day routine away from public scrutiny. We live in deeply uncertain times, and I doubt we will be able to gather in our church buildings for some time yet. More information is starting to emerge of course, and the news will not be received by everyone in the same way.
In addition to our YouTube services which have settled into a weekly pattern, I ’d like to offer online social contact using Zoom during May and June, and the possibility of a one to one chats by phone if you would prefer. Do please share anything you would like me to pray for, and call me any time you have any more urgent concern. For yourself, perhaps you could ask, “who might I give a call to this week near to where I live?” – that could make quite a difference to somebody’s morale. I spoke with a doctor this week who reminded me that there are people who are quite anxious and isolated in our area – especially those already with poor health. Did you need to call someone, yourself, and ask for help?
I know some of you are already volunteering help in various ways. Is there any gap you have noticed in the community around you? Is there anything more we can do to help as churches together? In the last month there has been quite a range of different things going on for me with others in church life, despite the restrictions and limitations:
> Journeying with our church schools as they‘ve entered a new online world, including chairing a Governing Body meeting online using Zoom. They especially need our prayers and support at such a stressful time.
> Negotiating Holy Week and Easter ‘online’ with our wider Mission Community, and continuing to post content for a number of services and reflections on YouTube, helped by more and more members of our local churches.
> Taking short graveside funeral services in Warcop, Dufton and Appleby, with another, from Kirkby Thore, in Penrith this week. Revd. Peter Boyles has taken services as well. It has been very moving to see villagers showing their respects at the roadside for the funeral procession as it passes by.
> Preparing sessions for bible teaching using Zoom; this week for Appleby Filling Station, about Paul’s ministry at Ephesus. The opportunity of learning together is very special.
> Collaborating with other clergy across the area – with near weekly contact with the Archdeacon and Rural Dean.
> Updating the information on the A Church Near You site for each of our thirteen churches, and trying to clarify our communications online. I am also planning to develop a website for our Benefice over the next few months.
For myself, I cannot believe how quickly the last month has gone; I enjoyed some holiday after Easter, but have also nursed a painful knee for much of that time. Various people have commented how strange it must all have been on top of my coming new to the job of Rector for the Heart of Eden in November last year. Overall, the recent fine weather has helped lift my spirits, and I do feel encouraged in many different ways. Making near daily walks, mainly using the local road out towards Dufton, has been a joy, when I’ve been fit enough. My wife typically works locally three days a week with a home care agency. Our oldest son, who recently had his first child, is helping maintain contact with vulnerable people as an employee of a County Council in the north of England. We welcomed our younger son back to the UK from New Zealand and Australia, via the USA, on Good Friday. He self-isolated for two weeks, and has now come to stay with us until his future work opportunities become clear. It is good to be back together and connecting, albeit under challenging circumstances.
Are you connecting with everyone you want to? Is there anything more I can do for you, or can help you progress?
With all best wishes. I hope we can speak sometime soon.
Revd. Clive Hicks
Heart of Eden Benefice
Sunday, 10th May 2020