Please find below a message from Pippa Madgewick.
Happy New Year to you All.
I’ve spoken to the rest of the ministry team and most churchwardens about Sunday services for the next few weeks. While vaccinations are taking place here and many people enjoy being in church we also know the number of Covid-19 cases locally is currently rising fast and have reached over 3 times the numbers recorded a month ago. We are allowed by the government to hold services in church, but my feeling is that to do so in the next few weeks would be unwise, so I propose to only hold online services from next Sunday up to and including 14th February, the start of the school half term week. By then the lockdown should mean infection rates are falling and also many more vulnerable people should have been vaccinated.
Please can you let churchgoers and your wider village community know that churches remain open for private prayer on Wednesdays and Sundays but not Sunday worship for the next few weeks. In making this decision I’m very torn, but look forward to Easter and beyond, when life should be able to open up a bit more and a degree of normality return.
Church life post-Covid-19
The Bishop has written, inviting us to use this time to think of ways our church life should change as we emerge from lockdown. He wrote:
“My challenge is simply this: that we think, reflect, and discuss, around what we should be learning from this year of lockdown about healthy future patterns for our church life. Many questions suggest themselves: here are just a few.
· What has worked well in lockdown? Can we preserve those things? How?
· Why did numbers go up for the online services in the first lockdown? What does that tell us?
· Why did they not go up in the same way, and even go down, during the second lockdown?
· As we think of the things we had to leave behind temporarily, should we take them all up again? Might any of them really have been unnecessary burdens or even idols?
· In many churches “zoom coffee times” seemed to deepen fellowship. How do we follow that up?
· In many churches and benefices, one simplified and shortened service each week seemed to meet the needs of people who would normally prefer their own particular style and service time. Can we learn from that?
· Towns and cities got most of the publicity over lockdown, but what have rural parishes learned, and what can they teach the rest of us?
· What might this time be teaching us about the right patterns of community service, mission, worship, use of buildings, use of technology, ministry and staffing needs, as we move into the future?
And more. You get the picture. I suggest that church leaders and ministry teams should be asking this sort of question now, and encouraging PCCs to think creatively and radically in these areas over the next year or so. I’d love to hear any answers on a postcard or in an email, and I hope we can discuss these matters with courage and wisdom at deanery and diocesan synods in due time.”
He specifically wants responses from rural parishes. What can we tell him from life in Rutland?