Simon here. I have felt moved to write you this note – I hope it’s helpful as we seek to weather this storm brought on directly and indirectly by this pandemic, by clinging on to both the gifts of God and God himself.
1. BE PRAYERFUL
My biggest request is please pray: Pray for those who are working and fighting for the common good; I’m going to be really selfish here and say on behalf of my staff team, as well as me personally, “pray for us” (Hebrews 13:18)! And pray for each other – I know many of you are finding this really hard, please lift one another up on prayer as I have been doing for every name on our database. I am humble enough to admit this is the hardest season of my 11 years of ordained ministry, if ever there was a time to intercede it is now.
2. BE PATIENT
You may not be aware but we have 1,324 people on our database, all cherished and loved by God, and by us! We are working extremely hard to keep in touch and keep our incredible church family together, but we also have to triage people who have been bereaved or our struggling profoundly. If you want to speak to me, my number is 07955356055 and I will be privileged for your call, and I will enthusiastically pray for you over the phone.
3. BE POSITIVE
None of us are immune from the pain and pressure of the past year in smaller or larger measure, but as people of hope and joy, let’s focus on the positives. You may not have heard your particular favourite hymn in the past few months, but all our volunteers are a marvel and deserve medals for the incredible job they’ve done over this time. Church might not feel the same sitting in your front room without the fellowship and connection of being in the church with others, but people who have never engaged with faith are now engaging as podrishioners!!!
There are enough naysayers around, people who focus on the negative and only share with you what they do not like. By God’s grace, be otherwise! Speak a good word and ask the Lord to make you an encourager.
Send me an email about how the worship/teaching/kids work/youth work/prayers/deliveries/mannas/cards have blessed you and I will pass onto the relevant team for their strengthening – firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. BE A PARTICIPANT
Over the course of this pandemic some of us have been limited in our involvement for very practical reasons. We must keenly guard against becoming disconnected. Now is the time for faithful Christians to take their place alongside myself, the staff and the select vestry, and do their part to help the church move forward. I’m asking you to be more than a spectator. There are so many jobs – please contact me and signal your willingness to be really effective for the church and for the Lord.
You will remember that we had to cancel an event planned in Gracehall right at the start of this pandemic, when I had planned to share a vision for scattering church outside the walls of our buildings. Who could have imagined how naturally that would occur as the worship and Gospel message is now shared online and watched via screens throughout our parish and beyond? I wonder if there are people out there who would contribute to making sure this vision continues? Even when we get back to church with some kind of normality, some people in our community may not be able to come back for quite some time, and it is my conviction that the service should be live-streamed from now on. This however comes at quite an expense, so I would appeal to those who can to help me with this to please contact me.
I am being so blessed by reading the story of Rev Trevor Stevenson and the charity “Fields of Life” founded in this parish, noticing some familiar names scattered throughout the book!! But I am also reminded that our DNA must remain missional especially in circumstances of need. In the words of Dean Roland Hutchinson to a faltering Trevor dwarfed by the task, we need to put our “hand to the plough, there’s no looking back now!”