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Vicar's Letter for this month
Dear Friends, I am writing
this month’s letter in the days following our recent Annual Meeting. I want to
highlight some of the comments I made then. For some of you, this will just
serve as a reminder; for others, it may help keep you connected with what is
happening at church.
May I thank
all those who attended the meeting, particularly those who joined via Zoom. The
problems with the sound via Zoom that day made for a very frustrating start to
the meeting. Thank you for bearing with us as we tried to resolve the problems.
I think if we face another APCM in such circumstances (and I’m praying we
don’t!), we will not attempt dual mode!
that after a ‘baptism by fire’ in these past eight months, our
newly elected churchwardens are continuing. I’m sure you will agree they have
done a remarkable job amidst all the challenges of these times. I’m also very
grateful to those who have agreed to serve or continue on
the PCC and on Deanery
Synod. We still have one vacancy on the Deanery Synod – please let me know if
you would be interested.
This was our
first APCM since the death of Meg Widdicombe. We remembered Meg with great
affection and thankfulness for all she contributed to our church over so many
years, and the faith and friendship
we shared with her.
back on another difficult and challenging year for our church family. Our church has not
been able to worship together now since the first lockdown in March 2020. We
have been split into different groups – ‘Zoomers’ and ‘non-Zoomers’, Zoomers
and those in church, plus those worshipping via other means from home. There has been the
loss of fellowship; the challenges of care for one another, when we can’t meet
up, can’t give a hug, hold a hand, or visit. These simple things we all took
for granted, we
will now have to almost re-learn! We have had to get to grips with new
technology that some of us had never used. Thankfully, over the months we have
grown in confidence and learned new skills.
Covid 19 and
lockdown has inevitably had an impact on already strained finances. May I
particularly thank all our planned givers, who have carried on giving
throughout this time. You have helped keep our church going, as have those who
have been making voluntary contributions over past months. We are so grateful.
Without your help, we would be in a serious financial situation. May I urge
those not already signed up to planned giving, to give this serious
the challenges, there has been plenty to thank God for:
The generous legacy we have received –
a wonderful gift which came just when it was most needed. The PCC is not
rushing decisions about how to use this money. However, we are working on some
ideas. Contact is ongoing with Juliet Hemingray over a new altar frontal and
banners, in their memory, for Advent and Lent. This is the company that
produced our white and green banners and frontals. This gift has enabled us
to buy resources and booklets for the Bible Course in Lent, and the various
booklets we have been delivering to you all to use at Christmas, Lent, and during
‘Thy Kingdom Come’ – the special
time of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost.
The new Pastoral Care Group
has finally got off the ground! This group has been a huge support to me in
making phone calls and doing some doorstep visits to church members over past
The Lent Course on The Bible
- 18 of us from CHOGS, plus a member from St Luke’s took part. This must be a
record attendance for a Lent Course! Most of those taking part wanted to
continue studying the Bible. We have now launched our Bible Book Club, with 2
groups meeting once a fortnight. It has got off to a cracking start! Anyone
would be welcome to join us.
The new ‘Shine’ service for our young families – This has made such a difference during these long months without
our usual worship and activities for children and young people on a Sunday
morning. Thank you to those who have made these services possible.
Little Fishes (our service
for pre-school children and their families) has managed to meet between
lockdowns, and has just resumed. This provides a much-needed group for those
with young children. Our Little Fishes leaders have been doing a wonderful job
in challenging times.
to be hard to plan with any certainty. At the last APCM we thought we might be
heading back to normality – we didn’t. We are all hoping that the date in June
may bring an end to restrictions, but now the Indian variant is making that
uncertain too. We don’t know how and when this will all end.
I hope that
now restrictions are lifting, and some of us are back at church - that, as more people get vaccinated, or begin
to feel more confident, we will see more people ‘in person’ there. For now, we
continue dual mode. Please bear with us. We are doing all we can to hold
together the needs of two different groups within the same service and the
technical hitches which arise.
It is over a
year since some of you have had Communion. I am now offering to bring communion
to those who would like it, in people’s gardens – weather permitting – or
inside your homes. Do let me know if you would like to be added to the list. Even better, if you can get together with
friends or neighbours from church so that I can come to a small group of you,
that would be helpful. Please ensure that you keep within current rules.
One of the
priorities I see for when most of us are
back at church, will be re-building community. It is now well over a year since
we were all together in church. Some of us have been in close contact through
Zoom services, but some people we haven’t seen for a long time. There will be a
lot of catching up to do. It will be wonderful to be back together again. We will need
time to settle back together as a community, to listen to one another’s stories
of this past year, to renew old friendships and to grow new ones. We may need
to review and reassess priorities in the light of this experience. I don’t want
us just to get back to ‘normal’ – but rather, to create a new and better
normal! So, we pray, come Holy Spirit.