After the government’s announcement on Monday setting out their roadmap out of social restrictions and its emphasis on ‘data not dates’, the PCC has agreed to use the different Stages to outline our own roadmap towards gathered, ‘in person’ worship.
(proposed transition, subject to criteria being met: 8th March)
From Sunday 14th March (Mothering Sunday) we will resume in person worship at Saint Peter’s with the tight restrictions outlined online. This service will be our usual 10.15am Eucharist service. This is a fitting time to regather, even if it is limited, as we reflect on the Church as a ‘mother’ and a place to return to after service. We will cease producing a live-streamed Eucharist on Facebook at 9.30am. The S8 Mission Partnership online worship will continue at 10am on YouTube. The Gathering will continue on Zoom at 11.15am but with a slight change of format.
We will be in this stage over Holy Week and Easter. The plans at this stage will be:
Maundy Thursday – an evening Eucharist in person, probably along with our Mission Partnership at one of the churches, and live-streamed on Facebook.
Good Friday – an outside ‘Act of Witness’ with Greenhill Methodist Church followed by an in person time of reflection in Saint Peter’s. This may be in the morning or the afternoon. More details to follow.
Easter Sunday – Usual Sunday worship pattern without The Gathering at 11.15am.
(further online resources will be made available.)
(proposed transition, subject to criteria being met: 12th April)
From Sunday 18th April we will invite families with children and young people to services at a different time to our 10.15am. There will be limited availability to ensure safety and comfort for many who have not been with others in worship for over a year. We are putting this service on in a different time and space from the 10.15am service so that I, as leader and vicar, can give my full attention to the children and their families as I reconnect with them and encourage them to resettle into the presence of God. Further details of this service will follow in the coming weeks.
(proposed transition, subject to criteria being met: 17th May)
From Sunday 23rd May we are aiming to move the children and families back into our 10.15am worship in a careful and restricted way, using guidance from the Diocese and Church of England. This transition, however, may need reviewing and will be done under consultation with the families and in light of the data provided at the time. The Gathering on Zoom will cease from this stage.
(proposed transition, subject to criteria being met: 21st June)
The Sunday following this proposed transition will be a week after my own wedding and I will be on honeymoon. Although I am happy for Saint Peter’s to potentially join together for the first time without social restrictions in place without me, I am (selfishly) inclined to postpone this occasion by one week. Meaning that on Sunday 4th July, subject to all criteria being met, we will gather together in person without much of the social restrictions, where we will celebrate St Peter’s Day (29th June).
I want to conclude with a brief reflection and call to prayer.
When I read John 6:1-15 I am struck by Jesus’ request to gather in the scattered pieces of bread and fish. There hadn’t been a large number of bread and fish when they were scattered and so, I, like the disciples, would expect less to come back; I might describe it as a ‘remnant’. What is returned is a large number of pieces. Let us pray that such a miracle will happen in Saint Peter’s as we gather back our lives.
Before we get too blindly optimistic, however, we must remember that what will be returned and gathered together will be broken pieces. These gathered items will not be the same as they were when they were scattered but will have been handled roughly, ripped and misshapen. We should expect ourselves and our brothers and sisters to return needing gentle care and time to heal. If you are uncertain as to what you will find when you return; you are not alone, we should all be feeling the same. I want us all to expect to meet different people than what was before because we all are, whether we acknowledge it or not, are different now. As we prepare for our reunions I want to encourage you to personally revisit and pray through our church’s values to love without borders, share without fear, seek with passion and pray without ceasing. The way in which we live within these in the coming months will be the measure we will become loving, witnessing and growing people.
Much love, in Christ,