By now you will, hopefully, have heard some of our bells ringing for the new and revised Sunday morning service.
The nature of ringing, involving close proximity of the ringers to each other and direct hand contact on ropes, has made the return to ringing quite complicated involving three way discussion between HMG, Church authorities and the national body representing ringers (Central Council of Church Bell Ringers)
A plan has been developed allowing social distancing by halving the number of bells rung and only allowing ringers to ring a designated bell, and also limiting the ringing time to 15 minutes. No practices of the tradition kind are permitted.
That is why you are hearing only three bells, and only for 15 minutes.
It will also be a novel and strange experience ringing with a mask.
It has been most gratifying to read on Social Media the favourable comments by people who have heard the bells, for the first time since early March. Thank you on behalf of all our ringers.
Mervyn Harrison (Tower Captain)
by the Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the CofE.
The Covid-19 pandemic has “propelled the Church into the contemporary world,” says a new report from CPAS, an Anglican evangelical mission agency working with UK and Irish churches. ‘Everyone Welcome Online’ looks at the lockdown’s impact on churches and concludes, “Last month we were the Odeon, today we are Netflix.
“In the 1950s, the Odeon was okay, but then along came consumer choice, individualism and crowded complex lifestyles. Then came TV film channels, and now Netflix, Prime and others, where you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you are on whatever you’ve got.”
The authors, Bob Jackson and George Fisher, say “The Government has shut our ‘Odeons’ down, so in response we have stumbled into ‘Homespun Netflix’ and it’s looking promising.
“Most churches going online have discovered that far more people are accessing their services than ever came to the building. What seemed initially to be a devastating blow to churches may actually generate growth.”
Bishop of Sheffield Pete Wilcox described the 26-page report as “An astonishingly thorough and perceptive overview of online church.”
The authors, who devised the popular ‘Everybody Welcome’ course published by Church House Publishing, include feedback from churches experiencing increased numbers of people logging in for online services, both live and recorded.
One church reported “We’ve had a huge number of hits, many more than the number of people in church on a Sunday, connecting with people who would not come to a regular service.”
The report analyses who is responding and detects groups ranging from friends and family of church members, to the housebound with links to the church, people linked by christenings, weddings or funerals, people who have moved away, occasional churchgoers and people who have found the church through a denominational or diocesan link.
The authors encourage churches to make contact with people who are ‘dropping in’ to the services, suggesting “Contact as many people as you can to say hello and how nice it was to see them connect with the church, and ask how they are and how the church can help them.”
People are finding it easier to access church online because they can join in the services without feeling concerned about ‘doing the wrong thing’ – like standing or sitting at the ‘wrong’ time – they don’t have to enter a strange building and meet new people and they can access the services at a time that suits them.
One church reported: “One previously non-churchgoer said that online she felt comfortable, fully part of the service and so more welcomed than if she had been in the building unsure of how to behave.”
The report’s authors are keen to hear from churches about their experiences during lockdown and ask people to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ‘Everyone Welcome Online’ report can be accessed free at: https://www.cpas.org.uk/church-resources/understanding-christian-leadership/everyone-welcome-online/everybody-welcome-online/#.Xs-E7UBFxPY
Source : Parish Pump
(Thanks for this article to Stephen Plant who is Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and teaches Christian theology at the University of Cambridge.)
During lockdown, I have been ‘meeting’ weekly on Zoom with the friends I made while training for ministry thirty years ago. We’re scattered around the UK and beyond these days and see each other less often than I’d like. But these are friendships whose roots are so established that it’s easy, meeting after a long break, to pick up where we left off. I’ve rarely been more aware how much friends matter. For this reason the book to which my lockdown experience has led me back is Aelred of Rievaulx’s Spiritual Friendship.
None of the majestic buildings of Rievaulx Abbey which shelter today in the valley of the river Rye in North Yorkshire were there when Aelred first visited. In 1134, when Aelred went to the newly founded Cistercian Abbey, the first Cistercian foundation in England, the only buildings were of wood. Aelred had entered the service of King David of Scotland aged 14, and by the time the quick witted youngster travelled on the King’s business to Yorkshire, he had risen to be the King’s Steward. But something about this loveliest of places poleaxed him. The day after he had concluded King David’s business, Aelred presented himself at the Abbey door and asked to be admitted as a novice. He remained in the Order for the rest of his life.
Spiritual Friendship is a short and unsophisticated book, written a century before the rediscovery of Greek philosophy injected new philosophical life into the bloodstream of Medieval Catholicism. Aelred’s theme is friendship, a theme familiar to him from the few classical sources he did know, especially Cicero. But now friendship is refracted through the lens of his experience of living in a Christian community. For Aelred, friends are nor merely a natural good, though they are that too. Friends are seen by him as blessings given by God who help us, in turn, learn what it might mean to be friends with God. Jesus had taught his disciples to love not only their friends, but their enemies. Yet for Aelred friendship at its best takes us a step further, into a deeper, fuller form of love close to the perfect love of God:
In friendship, then, we join honesty with kindness, truth with joy, sweetness with good will, and affection with kind action. All this begins with Christ, is advanced through Christ, and is perfected in Christ. In the New Testament letters of John, Aelred read that ‘God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them’ (1 John 4:16). But now he wrote that ‘God is friendship, and those who abide in friendship abide in God, and God in them’.
Lockdown reminds us of the importance of friends in maintaining our sense of wellbeing and in keeping our feet on the ground. As a Christian, I am also relearning that the closest friends afford a glimpse of the friendship of God.
Source : Association for Church Editors
BibleGateway listed the most viewed or searched-for Bible verses for 2019. As it happens, five of the top ten verses were from from Psalm 23, demonstrating the Psalm’s popularity, not only among Christians, but perhaps also among those who hear the Psalm at funerals or other events within the Church. If you added up all the usage percentages, Psalm 23 would be the most popular Bible passage of 2019 on this largely web-based platform.
If we give only give one mention to Psalm 23, then the most popular Bible verses were:
1. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
2. Jerermiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
3.Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (The other verses from this Psalm were 6, 5, 1 and 10.)
5. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
6. Romans 2:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
7.Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
8. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
9. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
10. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Source : Association for Church Editors
By Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former Director of Communications with the CofE.
I’m not a big fan of statues – but my favourite was the life-sized figure of Christ that stood in London’s Trafalgar Square during the Millennium celebrations.
It stood on the square’s previously-empty fourth plinth, going almost unnoticed among the surrounding grand statues and with Nelson’s Column towering above it.
The statue, called Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), was built by conceptual artist Mark Wallinger and erected in 1999. He explained: “I consciously made Him life-size. We are made in God’s image, and He was made in our image.
“So for the statue to stand in contrast to the overgrown relics of empire was definitely part of the plan.”
The figure was made of white marble resin, and depicted Christ standing before the multitude with His head slightly bowed.
I found the statue of Christ deeply moving and kept returning to Trafalgar Square to stand and gaze at it.
Because to me, the statue declared Christ’s vulnerability. It stood as a reminder that the God of all creation came to earth as a man and lived among us. He gave up His life so that we might have salvation.
There, with London’s traffic rushing by, pigeons coming in to land, and tourists snapping photographs of each other, Christ stood unobtrusively. Standing, you could say, at the door of our consciousness, and asking to be let in.
In a BBC interview at the time, the artist said that he wanted the statue to be an antidote to the “spiritually empty celebration” then taking place at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich.
It certainly had a deep effect on me. In April 2017, the statue of Christ was placed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral during Easter. Again, I watched as tourists passed by not noticing the figure. It was a modern-day parable in marble resin.
When the Apostle Paul took a stroll around Athens, he spotted the various altars and statues to the Greek gods. He found an altar ‘To an Unknown God’ and declared that this was “the God who made the world and everything in it” who had made Himself known in Jesus Christ.
Just as Mark Wallinger took possession of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for Jesus Christ – the reason for the Millennium celebrations – so Paul claimed the ‘unknown God’ altar in Athens for the Christian gospel.
The Bible has always been wary of putting people on pedestals. It shows us all sides of the people it describes, warts and all.
It tells us that Moses was a murderer, that David was an adulterer, that Paul persecuted the first Christians and that Peter denied Christ.
But all of us have feet of clay, and few of us deserve to be memorialised for centuries in stone or marble. Rather, we are gently encouraged to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Maybe that’s the best way to make our mark in history.
Source : Parish Pump
1 Good News! St Luke’s can now open for individual private prayer on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings
After careful consideration of the recent relaxation by the Government and Church of England of the COVID-19 restrictions on opening churches, we believe that it is now possible to allow limited safe access to St Luke’s Church for individual private prayer, subject to careful conditions being met. These conditions include everyone entering the church following the written instructions inside the church porch as to the use of hand sanitiser, where to sit, and maintaining the Government guidance on Social Distancing.
As a trial, the church will be open for individual private prayer between 9 am and 12 noon each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, starting on 22nd June.
We have carried out a full Risk Assessment and are ensuring that the surfaces and door fittings etc. likely to have been contacted by people are carefully cleaned after each morning opening period. However, necessarily we cannot eliminate all risks involved in coming into the church during the pandemic and individuals are advised to take special care, particularly with regard to the risk to others entering or already present in the building. Government guidance still strongly recommends that people deemed to be at particular risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including the over-70s as well as those with serious underlying health conditions, should minimise their risk of infection by continuing to follow the current stay at home and social distancing guidance.
We very much hope that this limited opening of St Luke’s will allow individuals a chance for a short period of private prayer in a peaceful place where countless Christians have worshipped before them.
2 Small funerals can now be held in church
The relaxation in restrictions on church opening also means that small funerals can be held in church, but again subject to restrictions including only a small number of mourners permitted to attend – please contact Rob for more information.
You may find the attached Simple Reflection Sheet helpful for you to use at home on the day of a funeral you can’t attend.
3 Church Groups
Since Christmas, the number of small groups for Bible study, prayer and fellowship has gone from one to four. The Monday Housegroup now meets weekly on Zoom. The Christianity Explored group, started after Christmas, is now a Sunday evening, Jesus 100 Group, meeting on Zoom. The Thursday morning daytime group is waiting for restrictions to be lifted before it can meet again. The new Tuesday evening Growth Group on Zoom is going from strength to strength. This week we start a new series of short studies in the Book of Philippians and so it would be a good time to join. Contact Rob, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more.
4 Planned Giving and Church Finances
Although the church will now be open for individual private prayer, it will be unattended and so you won’t be able to leave your regular envelope donation in church until corporate worship can resume. It would help our financial situation if you could donate by cheque now, payable to the PCC of Church Hulme to cover your weekly donations. You can send this cheque to the PCC Hon. Treasurer, Mr William Hall at 37 Balmoral Drive, CW4 7JQ. Alternatively, you could consider donating by standing order and do without envelopes altogether. Please contact Jayne Weaver for details.