Weekly News 1 April

There is most definitely something deeply profound about this Holy Week.
As we walk with Jesus towards the cross, we carry our own isolation, letting go of plans and certainties, our own grief and loss.
And yet, we know the end of the story… and even now we anticipate resurrection and life! Meeting friends in gardens, then next week sunshine in pub gardens, all set amongst greening trees and an ever wider variety of flowers… 

And amongst all of that we have been praying, without ceasing, 24 hours a day for all of this week. Praying for healing for all that has been, and hope for all that is to come. And as we have been praying, God has been on the move! Thank you to those of you who have added your words, pictures and visions to the virtual prayer board, or on emails, or phone calls or conversations. Please do keep feeding all of that into the picture that is building. And be encouraged. By far and away the predominant images are of celebration, of light bursting through the darkness, of unity and renewed hope and strength. If you haven’t already, do go to our website to get involved.

As well as the physical spaces that are open through the next few days, we will also have an online Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day service which you can find on our website.

We will be taking some Easter holiday over the next couple of weeks, but one of us will always be around for you. However, there won’t be a weekly email.

With the latest lifting of restrictions, we will be having more in-person services from next week, and we will keep you updated via the website. Likewise, other ministries will be starting again, not least amongst families seeking Christenings and Weddings, as well as our ongoing ministry to Funeral families. We have and are developing, Baptism, Wedding and Funeral Teams as part of this amazing outreach. If you would like to find out about getting involved in any of those, please do get in touch.

As part of that, we are reviewing our online presence. Sadly, we recognise that there is not sufficient buy-in from our worshipping communities to continue the level of investment required to put these services together beyond June. This has been a wonderful outreach, and we hope that you will find new ways to reach out to our communities. 

Back in 2019 it became apparent that we were not complying with the law in all kinds of ways, particularly around safeguarding and GDPR, and we needed some good, robust systems in place to help us to minister effectively and efficiently. We were thrilled when Fiona, with all her experience and skills, agreed to come and work for us for six months to help us get some systems up and running. Well, here we are 18 months later, and Fiona is still with us! However, the time really has come that she wants to move onto her next challenge, so she will be stopping as our acting Team Manager in June. I am sure many of you have experienced her kind, competent care over those 18 months, and that you will express your appreciation.

In family news, whilst Simon is continuing to heal and regain his strength, he is also showing signs of Long Covid. Please continue to pray for him and all the Howell family.

Anna, our eldest, had kidney surgery yesterday and has not responded well. She is still in hospital, and we would also value your prayers.

I have found this, shared by Judy Howard, enormously helpful through this Lent, so share it with you for these last days of Holy Week;

‘Repent does not mean to feel guilty and become cringingly submissive, but to have the strength and determination to change your mind. Metanoia.’

I pray that we will have the courage to change our minds, that they may be conformed to the mind of Christ this Easter.

Have a wonderful, joyous Easter, as we experience resurrection and new life in many profound ways this year.

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In these unprecedented times, we are working hard to find imaginative solutions in a landscape that has been rapidly changing. Sometimes we get things right, and sometimes we miss the mark. I apologise that this has been the case regarding communion.

For those of you who have received wafers in a parcel, we would ask that you either consume them, or put them somewhere safe to bring back once we are able to be together again.

We are going to be sending out a new order of service for use during this time as either a simple service of the word or, on occasion, to help us to share an Agape meal together.

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