26 July 2020
This Blog takes the place of the printed Weekly Sheet for now
After Church Refreshments
After church tea & coffee will be on Zoom from around 11:45am – come and join us virtually, it would be lovely to see each other again.
We have now implemented a Waiting Room on Zoom for extra security.
St Mary’s has been open for Private Prayer for a few weeks now. 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 – please note that the Church of England ‘Strongly advises’ the use of a face mask in church. If you are able to wear one please do so out of consideration to others.
The latest Information on the Reopening of our Churches and Church Hall
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
- Private Prayer in Church: St Mary’s is now open for Private Prayer. 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. We are working towards reopening the Church Hall which will be September at the earliest, we are currently assessing and implementing the latest government guidance.
- St Luke’s, worship and lettings, presents us with significant issues, again we are assessing the guidance.
The Midweek Get Together
We’re sorry but this meeting has been cancelled.
Each week Revd Mike invites you to join with him on Zoom for a get-together.
This week 29 July: How can we rest in the midst of restlessness? This week, we look at Sabbath rest in the Bible and explore Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath.
Funerals this past week
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)