The health emergency has led the government to ask the nation temporarily to change the way we live. This means that God’s people, for a season, are having to learn to be Church in a different way. Please scroll down for information about parish adaptations to the situation and how you can respond in Faith, Hope and Love. In particular there is information about:
All public services are suspended: there will be no gathering for worship in either St Michaels or St Marys, and none of our regular groups and activities will be able to meet until further notice. This does not mean that worship has stopped! Quite the contrary, prayer and praise as the task of us all is a vital response to the outbreak of coronavirus.
We are recording simple Sunday services. These will be distributed on our YouTube channel, via a URL from our Virtual Services webpage, and by email – please contact the Vicar to subscribe. We encourage you to view this recording together on Sunday at 9.30am so that we can be together as normal, albeit at a distance. The service will remain online for viewing at other times too – one of the silver linings of this coronavirus business is that there is no longer any excuse for not joining in a service!
Light a candle in your window
Every Sunday evening, churches of all denominations will be uniting in a national act of prayer and action. We encourage you to join this: light a candle and place it in the front window of your house at 7pm. We will repeat this act every Sunday until we are through this situation; may it be a sign of hope in the light of Christ which can never be extinguished. Click here for our enactment of this.
During the week
Following the further restrictions imposed by the Government on 23rd March, with regret, St Michaels and St Marys are now closed for private prayer and visitors until further notice. Clergy continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer but have been asked to do so at home. Please drop an email to Charles King if you might be interested in joining us sometimes in Morning Prayer by Zoom. Alternatively, you may like to access Church of England Daily Prayer texts or download the Daily Prayer app (click here for Apple, click here for Google Play).
We cannot worship in our church buildings at present but God is everywhere. If you are among those who connect with God through nature, you may like to download the Wild Worship Field Guide. If, on the other hand, you are making the most of the comfort of your own home, you may appreciate these simple materials for daily prayer – many thanks for Charles for producing these, drawing on Church of England resources. Here is a service sheet for everyday use. Here is some seasonal material for use in Holy Week. More to follow in this series for Eastertide…
If you would like a particular person or issue to be prayed for by us all together, do email the Vicar. Issues and individuals ordinarily remain on our circulated prayer list for a month. If the clergy and wardens know there is an ongoing need, names will remain. (If a name drops off and you would like it reinstated do just ask.) If you would like us to join in prayer for a third party, please get their permission for their name to be shared in this way.
Online prayer resources
In addition to what we can offer as a parish, the Church of England has a number of internet-based resources to support your time with God at home, especially for the duration of the period when we must pray apart. These include:
Parents, if you are not on the mailing blocks to receive age-specific materials from our children’s leaders, then do make contact with:
In addition, the Diocesan Children’s Officer, Margaret Pritchard has put together some prayer resources for families.
Baptisms and Weddings
Advice has been received from the national Church about the conduct of these special services during the health emergency. We will be contacting those who have booked baptisms and weddings with us but please get in touch if this affects you and you have any questions.
Bereavement and funerals
Among the many things being restricted at the present time is attendance at funerals. You may find that someone you know has died and you are unable to attend, perhaps because the service is at a distance or because limited numbers are permitted at the crematorium. If you find yourself in this situation, you might find support in the Funeral at Home service sheet. It will allow you to join in at home while the service is going on elsewhere.
2. PASTORAL CARE
Looking out for one another is a simple duty of all Christians. We need to do this more than ever during this health emergency. We cannot visit one another in person (and please note this includes your parish clergy and Pastoral Visiting Team) but we can stay in touch by telephone or a welter of online devices.
Telephone Buddy Scheme
In addition to the support which we can all offer to friends, family and neighbours, St Michaels and St Marys have linked up the most vulnerable in our community with a buddy from church to help maintain social contact during this time of potential isolation. Please click here for more information.
Foodbanks will face significantly increased demand and reduced donations during this emergency. It is important that we maintain and if possible increase our support for this vital community resource. Click here for more information.
Other local sources of practical and emotional support
With everyone in various degrees of isolation, electronic and telephonic communications have become essential. We usually circulate our publicity email once a month; this frequency has been stepped to at least once a week until the emergency is over and ‘normal service’ resumes. Please encourage any who want to stay in touch with St Michaels and St Marys to email the Vicar for inclusion on our mailing list.
The Parish Office and Vicarage are now closed for any face-to-face enquiries. Please respect this extra separation so that we can continue to work together through this health emergency. Colleagues remain available by phone or email so do leave a message and we will come back to you as soon as possible.
What we are working on next…
Members of the parish leadership are actively exploring on a number of new areas/opportunities. These include:
The Annual Parish Meetings (scheduled for 26th April) have been postponed. We will advise about a rescheduled date once agreed by the PCC or Standing Committee. Those elected post-holders whose term of office was due to lapse at the end of April will be joyed to learn that they remain in office until the date of the rearranged meetings. The Annual Report and Accounts for 2019, irrespective of when we hold the meetings, will be made available on this website and to subscribers via our email when complete.
Your Clergy and Wardens are seeking to make constructive use of this time of difference and are already planning for the Restoration which is to come. Please get thinking about the future too. What will a return to ‘normal’ look like? What might have changed? What act of Thanksgiving or Memorial might we hold? What sort of Church do you want us to be when we regather? Get thinking, talking and praying…
4. WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?!
We are still in the early days of this emergency. Doubtless much reflection is yet to come and huge tomes on the Theology of Coronavirus will be written by learned professors in years to come. In the interim, a few thoughts:
Finally we must remain steadfast in prayer for all those who are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak: especially those who are most vulnerable and afraid for themselves or people they love; those who work in our medical and support services; and those who are researching prevention and cure.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.