This Harvest will be different from previous years because of the consequences of Covid-19 – but it won’t be so different.
It is Harvest Festival and we can still offer our thanksgiving for the ways our needs have been graciously met over the last year. God is good and we have received much that is good, even in times which are bad.
We can express our thanksgiving by supporting the local foodbank, Storehouse, based at the New Life Church in Congleton.
Please leave your gifts of packeted dry food and tins (see items needed below) in the chancel after the service on Sunday 4th October from 10 am to 12.30pm. Please wear a face-mask when in church and observe social distancing.
And don’t forget to admire the special harvest loaf baked each year for us by Mandevilles and brought to church again by Barbara and Mike Street.
Our next working party for tidying the area around the memorials at the Knutsford Road Cemetery will be held on Saturday 5th September at 9.30am until 11am.
Unfortunately many of our regular volunteers will be unable to attend due to COVID restrictions, but if you are able to help you would be very welcome. We will maintain social distancing to keep everybody safe. Please bring hand shears,weeding tools and something to kneel on.
David Peake and Mike Street have been busy clearing, cleaning and painting the mausoleum at the cemetery, so I will open the doors on 5th September to give you the opportunity to admire their hard work!
The Covid-19 lockdown has meant that many churches are now facing severe financial issues, so this piece from John Farrow is very timely…
Riding home after church one Sunday morning, a mother commented, ‘The choir was awful this morning.’ And the father said, ’I thought the sermon was far too long.’ Their cheeky 7-year-old daughter piped up from the back seat, ‘You have to admit though, it was a pretty good morning out for a pound.’
Did you smile at the above quote? Sadly, it actually reflects the attitude some people have to church-going and church giving. How did you decide on the amount you currently give to your church each week? When did you last really think about how much you choose to put in the weekly collection envelope, or in the basket, or in the Standing Order? And more importantly, why do you choose to donate anything at all? No-one makes you pay anything to attend church. You are welcome to go every week and no one would demand that you pay even a £1, as the family above did. But think for a moment of all that God provides for us – life, family, friends, health, the riches of nature, music, beauty, art, and even his own Son to die for our sins on the cross and rise again to give us everlasting life. Yes, God gives freely, even abundantly, so isn’t it reasonable to ask how should we respond to his generosity?
Each church is where it is because, in the past, people have given generously. Many people would see the building as the church, but in reality it is the people who worship in it that are the ‘real’ church. We are a community gathered in the love of God, seeking to share the good news of that love. Part of our worship is to give thanks to God for all he has done for us. And in response we can give our time, and our skills, but also a regular gift of money. The church needs all of these to function properly. It is often said that people only value what they pay for, so isn’t it reasonable for us to think of the value of what God has done for us? Surely, we can’t argue with this quote from the Bible: ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matthew 6:21)
Introduction – Meeting and worshipping together physically in church form an important part of our life as Christians and yet for good reason this has not been possible since Spring. Like many churches, we have been able to include a good number of our folk with internet access in a form of corporate worship through our regular Zoom services but this form is not for everyone. The recent relaxation of the official virus restrictions to allow some limited services to start in churches under carefully controlled conditions is very welcome but poses real problems for us at St Luke’s.
We are blessed with a lovely church building in which Christians have freely worshipped together for almost 600 years. However, the very age, layout, and small size of our building limit the number of worshippers who can safely attend a service whilst keeping to the necessary social distancing and safety measures.
To guide the discussion at the July meeting of the Church Council about how and when to resume the limited church services at St Luke’s permitted, we consulted our congregations through a short questionnaire.
Questionnaire – There are about 240 people listed with a connection to St Luke’s and we did our best to get a representative sample by contacting everyone with an email address (143) and telephoning as many as possible of the others with the help of our Prayer Networkers.
The questions and summary statistics are shown below.
1. When did you join St Luke’s? Last 3 years / 3-10 years ago / over 10 years ago
2. Are you able to join Zoom church on Sunday mornings?Yes / No
3. How many times have you come to Zoom church?Most weeks / occasionally / never
4. Would you like someone to phone to help you join Zoom church?Yes/ No
5. Would you come to restricted communion: at 10.30am?Most weeks / occasionally / never / uncertain
6. Would you come to restricted Sunday communion at 9am?Most weeks / occasionally / never / uncertain
7. Have you tried Zoom Morning Prayer on Mon/Tues/Wednesdays? Most times / occasionally / never
8. Would you come to Zoom Thursday prayer meeting? Most times / occasionally / never / uncertain
9. What would the best time be for our weekly prayer meeting?Weekday evening / at the weekend / weekday morning
• 104 from the 240 people listed with St Luke’s (43% overall response)
• 86 of the 144 who received it by email (59% response)
• 18 of the 62 on our postal-only list contacted by phone (29%)
• 67 respondents provided individual thoughts and comments (64%)
1. The 43% overall response to the questionnaire is excellent for which many thanks! It reached 59% of those with email/internet and 29% of those without it, providing a clear picture of views across the parish for the Church Council to act on.
2. Unsurprisingly, Q1 confirms that the majority (82%) of our congregations have been with St Luke’s church for more than 10 years.
3. An encouragingly high number (63; 60%) of respondents can participate in Zoom services (Q2) – internet connectivity with a smartphone or another video device. From individual comments, the reasons for non-participation included poor or no internet and lack of technology, as well as discomfort with video as a medium for worship. However, the offer of telephone help with Zoom (Q4) had only a few takers (5; 4.8%).
4. The responses to Q3 about the Sunday morning Zoom service bear out the actual situation in which an important new ‘congregation’ has been established during lock-down. Thus, the majority (56; 89%) of those responding, and able to join, said they did so most weeks or occasionally. Note: in practice, between 45-55 homes are connected in the Sunday Zoom service involving 60-70 worshippers, many in family groups. We can only safely accommodate 30 worshippers in St Luke’s under the current restrictions and so the Sunday Zoom service needs to continue into the Autumn, albeit at a new later time of 10.30am.
5. There is a good level of support (68%) for a restricted service of Holy Communion on Sunday at the new time of 9am (Q6: 31 stating they would come most weeks and 40 occasionally, with 6 uncertain and 27 who would never attend until restrictions are removed). Note: 9am was chosen as the time for the restricted Communion service to be accessible to both our former Sunday 8.30 and 10am congregations.
6. There is also reasonable support (39%) for a restricted service of Holy Communion on Wednesday at 10.30am (Q5: 15 stating they would come most weeks, 26 occasionally, with 8 uncertain, and 55 who would never attend either because of work commitments or until restrictions are removed.) Note: before the lock-down, attendance at the Wednesday 10.30am service was 15-20.
7. Support is more limited for 9am Zoom Morning Prayer on Monday-Wednesday (Q7: 18 of the 63 possible attending at some time) and the Thursday 9.30am Zoom Prayer Meeting (Q8: 23 of the 63 possible attending at some time). In practice, both Zoom Morning Prayer and the Zoom Prayer Meeting continue to be attended by 10-12 people, significantly more than was the case before the lock-down.
The Church Council considered the questionnaire responses carefully at its meeting on Monday 20th July. It decided to provide restricted services of Holy Communion in St Luke’s on Wednesdays at 10.30am and Sundays at 9am (new time) during August to assess the level of attendance and evaluate safety provisions. The church building will be open for individual private prayer until midday after the Sunday and Wednesday services. The Zoom Sunday service will continue but at the later time of 10.30am.
Please see our website at https://www.stlukesholmeschapel.uk and FaceBook page for updates on service arrangements.
Steve Smith Secretary, Church Hulme Parochial Church Council