Reopening for Public Worship

We have been working hard for some time now to get plans in place ready to reopen St Mary’s and to resume public worship now that we are able to.  Thanks to a wonderful little team who have been working with me in this, and to the PCC for their full support of the plans, I can now let you know what will be happening with effect from Sunday 26th July.

The first thing is to say that at the moment, provision will not resemble what we had been used to before we went into lockdown.  For now, there will be only 1 Sunday service and it will take place at 10am.  It will be an alternating pattern of Holy Communion and Morning Praise, and the website calendar will be updated to show what is happening each Sunday.  In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, only 28 people can be safely seated in the church building, in addition to those who are taking the service.  So this means that you will only be able to attend church once every 3 weeks.  However, we will be recording the services in church and will upload them to the YouTube channel following the service so that you can be a part of the services even if you can’t be there in person.

We have roughly divided those on our mailing list into 3 groups, and we will contact you in the week leading up to the Sunday service to ask if you plan to attend.  If you can please reply and let us know either way  (letting us know who will be attending from your household if there is more than one of you on an email address) that would be really great.  Equally, if you get an invitation but do not wish to come to a service, you can ask to be removed from the invitation list and we will leave you in peace and just send you the news as we do now.  Or if you read this and are not on our mailing list but would like to have the opportunity to attend worship, please contact us.

I have attached a Q&A document which I hope you will find helpful and will answer a lot of questions you may have.  With the update next week, I hope to send you a link to a video which will show you what to expect if you do attend worship.

At this stage, we have not formed concrete plans for St Bridget’s, and so for those who attend St Bridget’s if you would like to attend a service at St Mary’s until we do, please contact us and we will add you to one of the invitation lists.

Latest News

Dear all,

As you can imagine, a lot of information is coming flying in at the moment.  We are working in a very careful and prayerful way through this and will be speaking to the PCCs again in the near future with a plan for our churches reopening.  We will then pass this information through to you when it is ready.  Please pray for us as we work through all of the different considerations.

The main thrust of the updates today is that we feel very strongly that having been not only out of the church buildings for some months, but also the normal patterns and programmes have ceased for some months, this is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to really take stock of where we are, and what God is asking of us in the future.  Making any changes can feel unsettling but as clergy particularly, we feel that God is inviting us to really think about what we have been doing that can be left behind, what we have been doing that is good and needs to be returned, and what we haven’t been doing that God may be calling us to pick up in the future.  And it is certainly true that we have learned a lot during this time about an online presence for example.  It is interesting talking to colleagues who have started to rush back to doing exactly what they were before coronavirus only to wish they had taken the opportunity to pause, to pray, to reflect and to see what God is saying.

So, how are we planning to do this.  Well … alongside thinking about some of the practicalities of buildings, worship etc, we would like to ask you to participate in some congregation wide surveys, one a week looking at a different aspect.  I know that some who see this don’t attend St Mary’s or St Bridget’s regularly, but it would be good to hear your views too if you are willing to take part.  Some of you may remember that last year we did a teaching series on mission, thinking about the 5 marks of mission of the Anglican church.  I have found a really good resource that uses this framework as a basis of a survey, and we are going to use this.

Over the next few weeks we are going to be thinking about the following:

  1. Prayer and worship
  2. How we provide opportunities for growth
  3. Pastoral care
  4. Tackling social justice
  5. Our environmental responsibility

The first of these surveys is on prayer and worship, and you can access it via this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HGQFHQD

I would like to encourage you to be as prayerfully honest as you can be when you think about the questions.  They are fairly open ended in the main part, so you can answer them however you want to.  It gives us a chance to think about the nature, patterns, content etc of our prayer and worship as well as our hopes for the future.  We would like to encourage you to reply in the next week or so, as the next link will come out next Friday.  This gives us a chance to really look at what you have to say, and see what patterns might be emerging as we look forward to the future.

Thank you in advance for taking part if you can.

God bless

Jonathan

Night Prayer and a Night Cap (and other news)

This week we are planning a new experiment. On Wednesday 29th April at 8:00pm we will be holding Night Prayer and a Night Cap on Zoom. The idea is that anyone who would like to join us on Zoom can connect and we can just enjoy a quiet time of prayer, and you are welcome to bring a drink of your choice which could range from a whisky to a hot chocolate!!!!  We will be using the Night Prayer section of the Church of England prayer booklet which has recently been released (you can download it here, so make sure you have it to hand if you want to join in with the words).  If you want to have a candle to hand to light while we pray that would be great too.  If you are not on our mailing list and would like to join us on Wednesday, please contact us for more information.

Also, a new section has been put on the Axbridge Deanery website showing all of the online worship services and resources across the wider Deanery. So if we aren’t offering what you need here, you are very welcome to look and see if it is being offered somewhere else. It is one of the gifts of working together with the other churches in our Deanery.

Churchyards

We are aware that signs have appeared on churchyards to say that they are closed. We do not know the origin of these signs and can confirm that there is no advice from the Church of England that they should be closed. Should this change we will notify you via our website and social media accounts.

Prayer Diary

We have just added a daily prayer diary for Berrow and Brean on the prayer resources section for those who may find it helpful. Thanks also to everyone who has looked at the new YouTube Channel. We hope to put something on each week, and the next video will appear on Sunday.