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Vicar's Letter for this month
As you will be aware the first weekend in July will bring
with it a significant easing of the current lockdown. Amongst a host of other
changes, is the good news that hairdressers and barbers can open again! I’m sure many of us will be joining the queue
for a long overdue haircut! I have already booked mine!
The news that churches can begin to open for services again
is also very welcome! Many will be
delighted that they can, at last, look forward to going back to their churches.
Church weddings will also be possible from 4 July. We will not be
going back to ‘normal’. It will be another ‘new normal’, following conditions
and guidance yet to be set by the government and the Church of England.
We may have to wait a while for the national church guidance before we can
begin planning for our return to church at the Good Shepherd. Community Centres
can also open from 4 July, but our Community Centre will need to
have a Deep Clean before it can open. This will be happening the first weekend
So, although churches can open from 4 July,
there could well be a few weeks to wait before our church is open again.
Bishop Steven outlined key principles for the decisions to
be made, in a recent letter to clergy, lay ministers and churchwardens in the
‘ ….The most important is to prepare prayerfully, thoroughly,
carefully and locally, with clergy and PCC’s consulting together about how to
resume public worship. . Every parish
and benefice is different. There are serious health and safety considerations
to be worked through in every place. We will be able to meet in our buildings
again, but this will be far from a return to normal life before lockdown.
'Understandably, there will be many who want to return to
normal as soon as possible and who may put pressure on clergy and PCCs to act
very rapidly. This should be resisted. Whatever pattern of worship is offered
will need to be sustainable and will, most probably, need to continue alongside
the virtual worship and fellowship which has been so fruitful during the
lockdown. We may, therefore, need to look at simpler patterns of worship for a
These are wise words for us to take to heart as we plan and
prepare on the PCC for our return to services at the Community Centre.
There are some things we already know about in advance of
opening church for services again.
Sadly, we will not be able to sing together, for the time
being, at least. I know that is something we have all been missing during
lockdown. Holy Communion will have to be administered in one kind, as we were
doing just before lockdown started. We will need to observe the appropriate
social distancing to keep everyone as safe as possible. Services should be
shorter, but there may be more of them. We will not be able to serve
refreshments after services yet, and long conversations at the door are
discouraged. The good and careful hand hygiene measures in place before
lockdown will continue. Some of our congregation who are vulnerable themselves,
or have household members who are vulnerable, may still wish to stay away or be
anxious about returning to public worship. Numbers may be restricted by the
social distancing required, and we may have to set out the church in a
different way. All this will need to be discussed once we have information from
the national church authorities.
Please do pray for the PCC as we plan and prepare. Be
assured we will keep you informed of progress, and let you know when a date has
been agreed to open for public worship again. Our priority has rightly to be
the safety and well-being of our church members. We will also be making
decisions about our children’s groups, and other midweek groups and services.
Coming out of lockdown will be a marathon, not a sprint!
Talking of running – I have set myself another challenge for
the summer. I have decided to do the Couch to 5k running challenge! Whilst I
would refute being a ‘couch potato’ (As would most people who have a dog!), I
have never been a runner! Sadly, I did not seem to inherit the athletic genes
which seem to have blessed most of my family, but not me. So, this will be a huge challenge, and right
now the thought of running 5k fills me with horror! With this in mind, I am
hoping you might consider sponsoring me to do it, in aid of church funds. Our
church, like all churches, is going to be facing continuing financial
challenges due to the lockdown – the loss of money from loose collections and
cancelled fundraising events – I am hoping any money raised in sponsorship will
help. Your support would add a spring to my step!! I probably won’t finish the
challenge until September at the earliest. The One You ‘Couch to 5k’ builds you
up over 9 weeks, so plenty of time to save your pennies! More information to
Many of us would normally be looking forward to holidays in
the coming weeks. Some will not be able to have the holiday they planned, or
the place they hoped to go. I pray that whether you are home or away, God will
bless you all with time for relaxation, rest, and refreshment in the weeks