16 August 2020
This Blog takes the place of the printed Weekly Sheet for now
After Church Refreshments
**There will not be a Zoom Meet Up this Sunday 16 August**
Join the Zoom Refreshments and chat
St Mary’s has been open for Private Prayer for many weeks now. We are Covid-19 Secure. We have the correct measures in place that allow us to offer you a safe place to spend some time in private prayer. It has been fantastic to see people face to face over the past three weeks and to have a ‘distanced’ chat with them! Please do come in confidence if you would like to.
The PCC unanimously agreed to apply to Bishop Keith for the dispensation of Canons B11 & B14 for August on the grounds of it being unsafe to open for Public Worship until better measures can be put in place to mitigate risk. This is mainly to do with the size and shape of both churches and the difficulty in maintaining 2m physical distancing. The application was duly granted by Bishop Keith (you can see a copy of his email here), so St Mary’s or St Luke’s will not reopen for Public worship until at least the 1st Sunday of September. The guidance for the legal side of not reopening for Public Worship and the dispensation is explained in this Guidance from the Church of England.
In the meantime, we will continue to offer Private Prayer sessions at St Mary’s and stream our services through July and August. I know not reopening in August will be disappointing for some people, but we have to consider the safety of people entering a very restricted space.
With all God’s blessings, Revd Mike.
Here are the dates/times for Private Prayer until the end of August.
From 8 August Face Coverings are mandatory by law in church buildings unless you have an exemption.
From the Rector
The past few months have challenging for all of us in so many different ways. For businesses and charities finance has been a very serious challenge. It’s sad to see all the redundancies that are taking place in our country and I can’t help but think that this is only the beginning.
Of course churches are not exempt from the financial difficulties and, I’m afraid, that includes our own church. Our Treasurer, Daphne, has alerted me and the PCC to the fact that, if our finances continue as they are, we could potentially run out of money in the next seven months. We will not be alone in this and many churches and charities will be facing the same issue. Our main issue is that our fixed costs have remained the same whilst our income has plummeted. We have lost a considerable amount of income from lettings and the issue of people not finding it easy to give, either practically or through personal financial pressure. We have done all we can to keep expenditure down to a minimum and I’m aware of very generous giving that has already happened (I don’t know the people, just the figures) to enable us to do what we’ve done during the past few months.
How can you help?
- Please remember our church finances in your prayers
- Many people haven’t been able to give as we haven’t been able to deal with cash – we can now, please speak to our wardens Joy or Sue and see how you can give by cash
- It may be that as you haven’t physically been to church for a few months you’re not sure how to give and what is the best way, please see further down in this Blog on how you can give online
- Remember the church in your will through a legacy, whilst this is not immediate giving, however it is an effective way to give to the church and sustain it for future generations
- If you can, please respond to this appeal by making a one-off donation on top of your normal giving – this would have an immediate effect on our finances
- If you shop online, including Click and Collect, enrolling with Easyfundraising – click here to find out more and enrol – we’ve raised £1,652 though Easyfundraising so far – join in!
As a reminder, please see further down in this Blog on how you can give online
I am sorry to hit you with this, but it is only correct that I share this with you now so you are fully aware of the situation.
With prayers and blessings for you and your loved ones. Mike
Church family - a local family needs your help!
Church family, please can we support this local Wistaston family as they desperately try to raise money for specialist cancer treatment to save their son, Georgy. Any donation would be appreciated by the family to help their young son. Please do what you can 🙏
You can read the full story via the link, but Helen, Georgy’s mum writes, “Any donations would be greatly appreciated and we will regularly update on here (JustGiving) with medical bills and photos when everything is finalised. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this, even if you do not wish to make a donation then please, please share
The latest Information on the Reopening of our Churches and Church Hall
- Face Masks are mandatory in Church for all services and the Church Hall from 08 August excluding those with a valid exemption or who are taking part in or are leading the service (as long as physical distancing cen be observed)
- Private Prayer in Church: St Mary’s is now open for Private Prayer. We are Covid-19 Secure. We have implemented Social Distancing and other Measures for the safety of all who enter. There are restrictions in place and we only have 9 pews available, one per household.
- Public Worship is permissible in church buildings from 4 July. However, due to the size and layout of St Mary’s the PCC have agreed that we will not be open again for Public Worship until at least the first Sunday of September. Bishop Keith has dispensed of Canons B11 & B14 for August.
- Funerals are permissible in church and we will conduct them at St Mary’s on request. Funerals in church buildings are severely restricted at the moment. Immediate family only are allowed and no hymns may be sung. Please discuss options with a Funeral Director to see what’s best for your family and loved one. We continue to conduct funerals at the Graveside and the Crematorium.
- Weddings are permissible in church. They are limited to 30 people in total (including the minister) and hymn singing or an organist is not permitted at the moment.
- Baptisms can go ahead providing appropriate steps are taken to minimise risk and are limited to 30 people including the minister. During the coming weeks, Polly will be in touch with all those who had Baptisms cancelled to rearrange dates. We will be conducting Baptisms outside of the main services. We will not be taking any new bookings at the moment until we have rescheduled those that were cancelled. It will be 2021 before we take new bookings. Please see the CofE guidance on baptisms for more information.
- The Church Hall is closed to any public access at the moment. We are working towards reopening the Church Hall on 07 September 20 – you can read our Covid-19 Secure Policy and Interim Booking Procedures here
- St Luke’s, worship and lettings, presents us with significant issues, after a risk assesment the PCC have decided to not reopen St Luke’s for hire in September and will assess it as new guidance published
- As changes to the guidance happen we will update this information accordingly – you can see the full guidance on all of the above at: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches
A number of queries have been raised following the new government and Church of England guidance about the reopening of church buildings for public worship, in particular how the government and Church guidance is clear that this can only be done when it is safe to do so, and the requirement of the Canons for there to be public worship every Sunday.
My view is that the Canons are like the skeleton in the body; they need to be strong and tough so that the body can thrive, but the skeleton is not the whole body. The Canons remain and are there for our good and the good of the whole church. They were not designed or are able to cover every circumstance of the Church’s life; they are not the muscles, the flesh, or the bloodstream, and without the Holy Spirit they are dead. As the guidelines make clear, the priority is safety, and I want to make it clear that if anyone asks for my direction in relation to longer-term delay in the opening of buildings for public worship my view is that we dishonour the intention of the Canons unless we open safely, and I will be very sympathetic to the incumbent and PCC as I make that call.
I hope this is helpful and enables us all to balance permissive and prescriptive well. Of course, in the Lord’s mercy, so much more has been given to us over these last weeks, especially with those who have joined our worship online. I am praying that as a diocese, we don’t miss what God has been giving to us in the responsibility we now have to reopen safely. Perhaps the time of July and August will help us in this preparing for this next stage and enable us to keep learning from what we have been through.
Can I repeat so many thanks to everyone for the resilience and endurance (even when it may have felt anything but) over these last weeks and reassert the recent message in the pastoral letter about rest, holiday and sabbath.
With love in Christ
Funerals this past week
Funerals still to take place
Please keep their families in your prayers.
A message from Revd Mike.
May I thank everyone who has kept their giving going during the past 3 months, it has been a challenging time and also challenging financially. From a church perspective, most of our outgoings remain the same whether the buildings are open or closed, so the challenge has been keeping the cash flow going to cover these costs. I am grateful to those who have been able to give extra and have given extra to the church.
Handling cash and cheques has caused us an issue during the pandemic and will continue to do so. Cash as we’ve not been able to allow anyone to process cash giving during this time, not that we’ve had much given in this way and cheques mean me having to visit the bank with them.
Joy & Sue attended an online Webinar about encouraging and managing giving during this time which advised that we should encourage people to move away from giving via cash & cheques and ask them to give via online or phone banking.
If you normally give via the plate each Sunday you can give securely via Give a Little by following the link below. If you’d like to give via online banking, which means we don’t lose the Fees, the details are below. You can set this up on your own online or phone banking unfortunately, we can’t process paper forms at this time.
Thank you for your support. Mike (Rector)