Parish Weekly update 28th June 2020

Dear all, I don’t know how much more I can bear of changing guidelines without consultation!

All of us on the Wirral Humanitarian COVID 19 Committee are frustrated and confused.

We are all subject to change so quickly and without due process that so much is being mis-interpreted. The public now feel it is all over, and on July 4th (Independence day from COVID one paper said) everything will open. A second wave is such a real worry.   As an afterthought one evening last week, the church was pulled into this as well.

From schools, to Public Transport, Churches, Leisure and Hospitality, no one is immune (sorry!).  As soon as we put into practice all the guidelines, risk assessments and strategies we are told to do, we get yet another ‘Guideline’ and we all change to face another direction!

BUT! This week we opened our church to the public and I put the bunting out.

Sue has put together a rota (thank you all) and all the cleaning before and after is going well.  The church has been stripped of anything that could hold a virus and Russ has reconfigured the Church.

The Graveyard Walk is now in laminated sheets in a large flowerpot in the Lychgate.

The Guidelines for church are changing rapidly and I don’t feel we should compete with other churches, much as just a few would like! (See some thoughts further on.)

We can’t sing in churches (but we can at the Crem where the space is smaller!).

We are restricted to 30 people inside (shall we ticket people, or first come first served, or shifts..what a horror!) and deep cleaning at all times afterwards. We have had three different guidelines this last 10 days and we are all reeling.

Existing bookings for weddings but with fewer people are still being explored but most have postponed. Autumn and next year will be really busy as we also have all the Memorials for those who just had a committal when the Virus was so deep. 

I now sit on three Wirral Borough Council teleconferences, Wirral COVID 19 Humanitarian groups, the main Cell group, the Food group and the recently formed, at the Council’s request, Faith group.

Eastham is now very much in the centre and we no longer feel at the end of Wirral South without a voice.  Sue is my back up and speaks for us all when I am not there.

Each day, sometimes two or three times a day, I am on teleconferences, Webinars or ZOOMs.

Diocesan Think Tanks, Chapter Meetings for my clergy as Rural Dean, and Webinars on various subjects as Vicar, all punctuate my week now.

My second full time job (!) Eastham (Vicarage) Food Hub is still working well.

CAMEO and Meet and Eat people have now had their last Larder Bags (Well-Being bags are still available if you know anyone who needs one?) but we have many families still to look after.  And we do. Thanks again to Jean and to all our volunteers.

Thank you all for your food and gift donations. If you have not said who you are, God knows.

I still need more though, as soon as it comes in, it goes out but the garden tent is truly a Godsend.

I have been asked to keep the family provision on till the end of August as there is still no date for the Food Bank in Eastham and One Stop Shops and Libraries coming back for the Foodbank vouchers. I, selfishly, quite reluctantly, agreed, but God has blessed that decision by giving me a small but substantial amount of funding.

I can’t reveal anything yet for our summer family work, but watch out for the next briefing.  I have a significant meeting to attend next week so please pray!

Our ZOOM Bible studies have now turned to Hebrews, Wednesdays at 7.00 pm.  Let me or Mark know if you want to join us.   Karen’s 10.15 am Celtic service on Wednesdays is beautiful and calming and the Sunday 6.30 services led By Mark but with Natalie, Andy, Simone and Nikki are thought provoking, thank you all so much!

Sunday 9.15 am Communion services are shared between Mark and myself…next week’s may be extra special!

Especial thanks to Ian and Chris who continue to digitalise us. Ian has spearheaded new initiatives such as our own YouTube facility, WiFi in church and an On-Line Giving Scheme, which we truly need at this time so watch this space….

Look at our Webpage, is there anything we could do better, please do let me know.   Our Facebook page is really so good. We all pray the prayers each day which I put on there as people of God, wherever we are.

As your Priest, I am still ploughing through all that God is asking and showing and challenging and I could not do it without all your messages of encouragement…thank you so very, very much.

Finally, I attach a couple of quotes to think and pray about.

“Government advice will be offered to all faith communities, and we as the Church need to look at it carefully, to see how it should be applied to us. Please be assured that we will do this and seek to offer you as clear advice as we can to help you in your planning. For this reason, for the moment we would suggest you don’t rush your plans for the resumption of public worship.

We know there are some in our communities who are hoping that things can go straight back to how they were. This cannot be the case – we will need to go gently, taking time especially over the summer months, as we continue to learn from this experience and then to shape all aspects of our church for the future.

The decision on when and how to return to public worship in our church buildings will depend on local circumstances and available resources, and the permission being given by the Government is permissive and not prescriptive.   

Our expectation over the summer is that it will be simple and limited in scope.

‘Driving past our places of worship many looked dead, there were no obvious signs of life.    I know that our internet activity proclaims that we are very much alive, but the outward physical presence displayed by our buildings seems to speak otherwise.

There is now a major relaxation in the rules governing our behaviour during this pandemic.  So, we are reawakening from a dangerous period into a new life, it’s still got its dangers so we must not become complacent.                                              

Maybe, as we take our tentative steps back into our church buildings we should be asking, ‘what should we be doing and how can we do it better’?   

Covid 19 has been a time of both threat and opportunity.  We have worried over the fate of loved ones, yet we have discovered new ways to communicate. 

Surely, now we need a time of deep reflection as we ask the question, ‘What is God calling us to do and to be in this new world?’

Let’s seize the moment and move on; let’s not heave a sigh of relief and slip back into the comfort zones that we have inhabited for so long.

We can watch a beautiful sunset, but a new dawn follows.’

My love to all, Beth x