I have been reading this morning the article by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York responding to the Coronavirus, which has appeared in a number of national newspapers. Please do have a look if you haven't yet seen it: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8118857/Archbishops-JUSTIN-WELBY-JOHN-SENTAMU-good-Samaritans.html.
As a clergy team across our network of churches, we have been thinking ourselves about how we might all be Good Samaritans in our communities at this time, bringing both the hope and encouragement that stems from our faith in Jesus Christ, and also practical support where it is most needed. There is great need in all our communities right now, and we have so much to offer.
As a church we would like to encourage you to consider doing three things over the next few days:
1) Please do join in with our Good Neighbour scheme. If you are able, we'd like to encourage you to pop the attached 'I'd love to help' card through the door of 5-10 households living immediately around where you live. We'd really like to do this over the next three days, with the vision that we might reach 1,000 households across Odiham and North Warnborough by the weekend. The only thing you need to do is to print out the attached sheet, cut it in half, fill out your name, where you live, your phone number, and what you can help with, and then pop it through 5-10 letterboxes. We know a number of members of the church are already self-isolating, so please don't feel you have to venture out if this is the case - maybe you could make a similar offer by email or text or phone to your neighbours? Our aim as a church is that this way everyone will have someone local to them and hopefully known to them, who they can call if and when they are in need. This scheme is already taking off nationally, and hopefully this is a simple way of us all being able to help our neighbours - but the key is for us to act fast!
2) Please do pray for your neighbours as well as all our community - perhaps most importantly that they might know freedom from fear and dread. The Archbishops encourage us to read Psalm 23 every day to remind ourselves of this, and to say the Lord's Prayer every time we wash our hands over the next 7 days! Can I encourage us all to participate in this? We are also planning to participate in the National Day of Prayer this coming Mothering Sunday - more details to follow as we firm up our plans.
3) Please do share your ideas with us for other ways in which we might practically help our community. There are already lots of suggestions emerging - such as our children making cards to push through the doors of vulnerable people who are self-isolating to say they're thinking of them, the possibility of us having a rota to man a community support phone-line, doing some shopping, obviously being Good Neighbours using the attached cards - and many more. Please let us know your own ideas, so we can all pull together to make a difference.
Finally, a quick update on how we are responding to the growing call to self-isolate.
As of today, we are stopping all non-essential midweek church meetings until further notice, including Lent groups, Lent lunches (if church led), Homegroups, Alpha, PCC meetings, choir practises, midweek communion services, baptism and wedding preparation courses, visits and communion services in nursing homes, Messy church, children's groups, mens breakfasts, and Mums and babies. We are hoping that as many of these groups as possible will still meet 'virtually' using simple tools such as WhatsApp Video, to encourage and pray for one another regularly, and we will be writing separately to group leaders in this regard.
For Sunday services, we have just in the last hour received advice from the Church of England that all public worship is suspended until further notice, that churches should be open where possible, but with no public worship services taking place. Therefore with very heavy hearts we are cancelling all services with immediate effect.
For those of us who are self-isolating, we are hoping to start live-streaming our Sunday church services very soon, as well as Morning Prayer at 8.30am three days per week - more details to follow soon via the website.
Finally, please be assured that as a clergy team we are praying for you, for all in our congregations, and of course our entire communities. Please do let me or the wardens - Lewis, Sue and Jane - or the church office know if there is any way we can help or support you directly.
Rev'd Chris Dudgeon
Curate, All Saints Church, Odiham
HELLO card - Odiham.pdf
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