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Latest Pastoral Letter

19th September 2020: Rev. Richard Atkinson
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Dear Friends,

I hope and trust all goes well with you and yours. I am sure you share my prayer that a vaccine will soon emerge so that something of the normality for which we grieve will soon re-emerge.

Can I apologise for the problems with sound on the stream since we returned to church. We think this is something to do with the stream and so beyond our control. Unfortunately the man who normally oversees Sunday morning has been on holiday and we hope his return will eradicate the problems.

The Government's attempt to clarify the rules, which we are encouraged to live by, and the confusion they have created is one motive behind this latest letter. Let me state quite clearly Church is open on Sunday mornings for worship. Places of worship are exempt from some of the demands of the new restrictions. Providing we abide by social distancing (households and bubbles are allowed to sit together) and as many as are able wear face coverings we are allowed to share in worship. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering you will not be expected to wear one. This means worship is different yet still has echoes of the familiar. I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts from those who have returned:

Having spent a lifetime of going to church on Sundays and being physically present with fellow worshippers, I found it strange at the beginning of lockdown, but the convenience of worshipping at home meant we quickly got used to it. However, it has been wonderful seeing friends again in person, but getting used to the special arrangements and having so much space around us will inevitably take time, but this should not put us off, as the warmth of togetherness is still present. Michael Foote
It was a completely different experience (with the wearing of masks compulsory) but wonderful to be back and being able to chat to other church members and giving us the opportunity to catch up on everybody's news. What a difference to be part of a live service rather than a streamed one. DON'T BE AFRAID TO COME. You are safer in church than you are in shops. Margaret and John Miskin
My only comment is that it felt like coming home. Janice Burton
I've really enjoyed the chance to have a socially distanced chat with church friends in the car park. You can't beat face-to-face fellowship. Vivienne Kemp
I plucked up the courage to return to church and found there was no need to fear. Richard and others had worked hard to prepare everything to make the church as safe a place as could be, from the entrance to the seat. I was unprepared for the flood of emotions which overtook me as I sat down and prayed – I was overwhelmed. For me, it was so right to be there and a true joy to see everyone there and I just sat and cried into my mask! I wanted to sing aloud, 'And are we yet alive, and see each others face'. Joy Murphy

As far as it can be church is a safe environment, we realise that some, for good reason, are not yet ready to return which we fully respect. To those who are wavering I hope the words above might help. Please do not feel the need to stand back even though you would wish to come through fear of denying others. Once we fill the 10.30 service is up to capacity (somewhere around 50 people) we are ready to offer an earlier service as well and be assured we will clean between times.

We aim to celebrate Holy Communion (abiding by all the necessary regulations) on October 18th. I know the team leaders are talking about their return but waiting to see how the return to school goes before a decision.

Finally the repeated request. If you wish to try to book a seat for Sunday morning please try to contact me by Wednesday before. If you try later there still may be places available but those who have applied by Wednesday will have priority. If you book and then are unable to come please do let me know as there may be a waiting list for any spare seats. If anyone turns up unannounced there may not be a seat available. I know this feels wrong but our hands are tied.

My contact details are revrja@outlook.com, 079279 33810 or 01296 339899. I am very happy to answer any questions or address any concerns.


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