Church is Changing, what’s happening?
I am writing to update you about our response to the recent Corona virus (COVID 19) outbreak in the UK. The Government guidance now is that we all stay at home unless shopping/exercising etc. You may also have heard that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have asked all Church of England parishes to close all church buildings.We will be following this guidance by postponing Sunday worship and all other gatherings until further notice. We are also closed for private prayer. Our Foodbank collection point will be closed but donations of food can be made at the Hinckley Superstores of ASDA/Morrisons/Sainsburys/Tesco or financially through: www.hinckleyarea.foodbank.org.uk (click on ‘red Donate banner’ which will take you through to the giving page of HCCA, the charity that oversees Hinckley Area Foodbank).
Like many people I am working from home. As you know I work part time and am usually available on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. At the moment it is very easy to get hold of me on the phone 01455-272215, especially during the day, or by email [email protected].
For everyone in Sapcote and the surrounding area this is an extremely worrying and challenging time. Most people are staying at home and ‘social distancing’ when out for shopping/exercise. On Wednesday I went to Stoney Stanton to pick up some medicine and it turned into a modern day parable! In order to keep to the two metre distance rule I avoided the very narrow pavement next to the road at Stoney Cove. So I took the tarmac path towards the playground in Stoney Stanton. On my way I saw a muddy path to my right that I had never noticed in over twenty years of living here! So I tried it out and asked someone if this path led to the Cove and discovered that it did. The path came out next to the old car park at Stoney Cove just as I’d hoped. As I got to the end of this new path a woman stood two metres away from me and asked me about the path that I had just discovered. Amazingly I was able to offer guidance even though I had never stepped foot on it before!
It’s not quite in the same league as Jesus parables (the two builders is my favourite - see Matthew 7:24-28) but I felt that God was saying something about how we navigate new paths in life during a time of change.
On Sunday 22nd March our Archbishops issued a call to prayer and action. Ten people visited All Saints Church for private prayers.It was a very special time and I know that others joined in by praying at home, some lighting a candle at 7pm. Later that day the local churches (All Saints and Methodists), in partnership with the Good Neighbour Scheme and the Parish Council offered assistance via a letter to all village residents (copy enclosed). Having recently recovered from a respiratory virus, I know how important it is to receive help from others in a time of need. Please ask for help whenever you need it, and encourage others to do the same. Furthermore the Archbishop of Canterbury led worship via radio and online. It is estimated that five million people tuned in, making it the largest worship event (can’t really call it a congregation) in the history of the Anglican Church!
On the back of the letter from the Sapcote helpers I have put a few prayer resources that can help us to pray at home. BBC TV and radio will be broadcasting more Christian worship – so please check schedules. It should be possible to find the Archbishop of Canterbury leading worship on Sunday on the radio (last Sunday it was 9am) or online. Also, if you have access to the internet there should be live broadcasts via the websites of St.Johns Hinckley and Holy Trinity Brompton amongst others. Please check the main Church of England website – https://www.churchofengland.org for further resources and for updated advice and information.
All Saints Church Hall continues to be closed for the time being so that it can be available for the doctor’s surgery. All other Church meetings/activities have ceased for the time being including Little Saints, Bellringing, Annual Meeting and Lunch, Parochial Church Council, etc. All Saints Church of England Primary School closed on Friday, 20 March but is open for about 20 children of key workers and to facilitate teaching children at home.
During these unusual times, which coincide with the Season of Lent, I hope that we will continue to spend plenty of time in prayer, reading and reflection. We may discover new ways of being Church that will last far beyond the current crisis. Jesus comes to bring love, health, peace and hope to a fearful, anxious and despairing world. Jesus never gave anyone a virus or disease, rather, he healed people. Therefore I hope that we can follow His example by keeping healthy, by being compassionate to those who become ill, and by praying for, and giving our fullest support to our health-workers on the frontline. There has been great support shown to them on Thursdays in Sharnford Road at 8pm when we have joined neighbours in applauding those making great sacrifices for us. Let’s continue to show our support whenever we can.
As Church members please continue to keep in touch and support one another as best we can. One way that we can get/give more personal support is by joining a prayer triplet (or pair) to talk on the phone and to pray for one another. If you would be interested in being included in a prayer triplet, or would like more details, please contact Di Harrold on 01455-272928 or [email protected].
Things are changing quickly, and apologies if this letter contains out of date information! I won’t be writing every week, but I will write when church buildings are opening up, if not before.( If we have enough notice we will try to organise a big Back to Church Sunday celebration!). Of course should I be absent for any reason I will ensure that someone else keeps you informed. To this end I will be putting together a ministry continuity plan very soon. To help communications we would like to send emails to as many people as possible. - so if you received my letter of 20 March through the letter box (or if you didn’t receive it at all!) and you have an email address, please could you send your email address to me at [email protected]. Thank you very much.
I will be continuing to pray for All Saints and the local communities around Sapcote every day at 11am, and I invite you to join me in praying at 11am at home whenever you can. Alternatively other church members are praying each day at 7pm and lighting a candle, so please join with them whenever you can. Look after yourselves and keep praying. May you know God’s peace in the difficult days ahead.
With love and prayers
PS Earlier in the week there was a rumour that John Travolta had coronavirus - it turned out it was only Saturday Night Fever…..!