From the Rector

Dear Friends,

Greetings as we continue through difficult and dangerous times, but now with the prospect of gathering together in our places of worship once more before us.

I am delighted that we were able to open up St Mary’s in a Covid-safe way for personal prayer last month as soon as the government and our bishops agreed it was safe to do so. I am so grateful to our team of church-sitters who are returning to help with this and it has been wonderful to have some face-to-face (physically distanced) conversation and prayer with them and with those visiting the church.

It will be a huge joy to restart services of worship now that the government has agreed for this to happen. Again, we must plan carefully and make sure this is safe for everyone. We will therefore hold our first service on Thursday 9th July at 11am, our normal midweek service times and from there we will gather again on Sundays from 12th July at 10.30am. Our services will be for all ages together from then and over the summer period. The 8am service will not start yet and nor will services at All Saints. We will take one step at a time.

It will be safe to come along unless you have medical guidance not to do so. The services will be familiar, inspiring, enjoyable, though shorter and you should expect the following changes:

- physically distancing as you enter, sit and leave apart from those in your household/bubble

- hand sanitizer properly installed for you to use

- one (accessible) toilet available

- a one-way system for receiving Communion with only the bread given

- no touch or moving during the sharing of The Peace

- no hymnbooks or service sheets – the Order of Service and hymn words will all be sent out by email (and by post to those requesting) for you to bring with you either printed off or on a device

- no collection, but the opportunity to give by card via machine and QR code

These are mainly changes we have already adapted to in the “new normal”. We’re blessed in having a large building and a modest congregation with excellent natural ventilation.

All this is possible quickly for us because of the great support of my clergy colleagues, Dean and Mary, as well as our churchwardens and PCC. I must say a special thankyou too to Margaret and Stewart who, with me, visited the church towards the end of the Lockdown period and made the plan which has been properly risk assessed and is in line with the guidance that we have received.

I’m also grateful to all those who have stepped up and helped in all sorts of ways making our online worship possible. This has been a great joy and there has been new learning for us, but nothing beats actually being able to worship with each other and to include those who don’t have access to the internet. We will not therefore carry on with an online Sunday service after 5th July, but we do recognise there will still be those unable to attend church services as they would wish and therefore we will continue with our mail outs, sermon audios and, in some form, with our week day online reflections and prayers.

Finally, as you can imagine, we have taken a substantial financial hit as a parish during this period along with so many other churches, organisations, businesses and individuals. We anticipate a gap in our budget this year of £30,000. Despite the very generous ongoing planned giving that we have, we have lost considerable income from the halls, the letting of All Saints, underpayments from the tenant of the office block next to St Mary’s which we also own, and – it’s been a perfect storm! – the departure of our tenants from the church house along with necessary between-tenancy repair work. We are very conscious that many of you will have been affected too, but, where you are able, we would ask if you can help. There is a piece about how to do this included in this magazine

In the meantime, I wish you God’s peace and strength and look forward with great joy to being reunited with many of you shortly.

Nick

 


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