Church of England Diocese of Gloucester Cherington

Church as never before

31 May 2020, midnight

Church as it has never been before

In our lifetime it has never been necessary to close churches and suspend worship in them. Church really means communities of people, usually of very varied backgrounds, beliefs and doubts, who choose to worship together and to serve the wider community. How can this be when the buildings have been locked for over six weeks and the future is very uncertain?

As far as service is concerned, the people of our Christian communities in Cherington and Avening have been very active in offering support to others in the villages, but how about worship?

We have been putting audio services on our ‘churchnearyou’ websites using recordings of many of the same people who would have been reading and leading prayers, had we been in church. These services have also been greatly enhanced by the music from Rachel Mapp, a sixth-former and an Avening organist, Claudia Ungar, a relatively new Cherington resident, members of the Avening Angels and from Georgina Leach, who grew up in Avening.

On 10th May the service had a different tone with a version in Powerpoint containing images and photos of many of those involved. There were contributions from some younger villagers: Coco, Rufus and Lola Rayner together with Francesca di Mauro provided our readings with some commentary on them (from Genesis and Revelation leading to our trust that God’s loving purpose will survive all that we humans can throw at it); Lore and Isaac Barnett read poems relating the natural world to our spiritual insights; prayers, written and read by Katy and Albie Forbes, Leonora and Imogen Tudor and Poppy Fuller. Their prayers included many thank yous: for our beautiful surroundings with trees, flowers and birds; for parents and teachers; “those who are working really hard in our hospitals, postmen, scientists, those who take our rubbish away”; and for being able to “wave at the people we know”. Also some other thoughts and concerns: for those with not much money or space; those who are lonely; for an unwell grandparent; “worried about seeing my friends again but don’t know when that will be”; “help us to show kindness to others so that they feel our love even though we can’t hug them”.

One of the comments received after this service was “Amazing how children say so simply how we all feel “. Parents also commented on how valuable have been the discussions at home that went into preparing these prayers.

A big thank you to all who have given these services such a local feel. Some other comments have been:

“Thank you to everyone taking part affording a true feeling of togetherness - so meaningful in this not-so-together time.”

“We would like to say how much we appreciate the work that goes into the Sunday Services to help us still feel part of our spiritual community. The intercessional prayers were lovely and thought inspiring. We do very much miss the physical Church but interestingly there is something special about bringing the Church into our homes”.

“I have just finished listening to the Easter service and must say it made me feel very humble and sad for the situation we are in today but also thankful that we have such a caring and friendly environment of people willing to give their time and experiences to others”.

I have been delighted to learn that there are many who are enjoying these services who would not normally be able to, or wanting to, be in church on a Sunday. I would very much like to hear more about their reactions – if you are one of them please do give me a ring or send me an email.

We have also had some Zoom evening services, initiated by Derrick Pierce: these enable us to see each other live and to be together in time, if not in space.

To keep in touch with services and future developments in an evolving situation, please contact me or go to:

www.achurchnearyou.com/church/14317 for Avening Church

www.achurchnearyou.com/church/14319 for Cherington Church

Gerald South, 01453 883456 [email protected]