Covid-19. Excerpts from the Parish Magazine and Newsletter
The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. CS Lewis
Before the lockdown, most people seemed to think they could be teachers. Now we come to the summer holiday most people know that they couldn’t possibly be a teacher. Teaching, we forget, is a vocation. To be a teacher is probably more difficult today than ever before. Why? Well, some people see education as a product and the teaching staff are there as commodities. I remember a teacher in a private school saying, “One parent came to parents evening and said I pay for my child’s education. They should be doing better!”
The sad thing was that child was great and personable and had many gifts and talents but being very academic wasn’t one of their gifts. We often forget today you cannot make a child cleverer than they are. I’m one of those types of people who think as long as a child tries their best, then they’ll find their place in the academic world with the help of good teachers.
Jesus was the perfect teacher. Jesus met people where they were. He listened and respected people, he encouraged people and He sacrificed Himself for people.
The above quote from CS Lewis is not simply true of education though. I feel our world can be very barren. It can be a desert, harsh, and inhospitable. This can be for a number of reasons, yet it’s still a painful and harsh place to live in not simply for our children but for all of us.
If we’re open to the Love of God personified in Jesus Christ, then through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will feel the effects of the Irrigation.
Fresh clean life-giving water will wash over us and help us live up to our potential. That’s what the gift of a true teacher is, to see in each child their potential and to help them try to reach it.
To broaden our thinking for a moment the second quotation below is from Nelson Mandela that great, reconciling leader of South Africa. Education at its best leads us from darkness to light; from fear to hope; from prejudice to hospitality. We all need this education. We all need to be humble enough to learn from the lessons of life and the lessons of education. Spirit-filled Education can help us be truly Christ-like. May we never tire from learning from each other. God bless our local schools; God bless our teachers and children and parents. Amen!!
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. N Mandela
With love and prayers to you all.
Revd. Stephen Monk
From Rev’d Stephen
A Comment from Bishop Libby which really speaks to all the UB with more than one service on a Sunday. I know this has been sent out but it is something for all of us to reflect on because as a Benefice we are going to have to think outside the box. The day of up to 5 services on a Sunday are on hold!! Any thoughts you’d like to share do get in touch.
“It may not be safe to do too much too soon, especially in contexts with more than one building in a parish, team or benefice where moving between buildings increases the risk of cross-infection – or where delivery of public services puts pressure of expectation on clergy and Readers – some of whom are fit and healthy, and are willing and able to re-commence public ministry, but some of whom would rather not, yet.
But even where it is safe, and ministers are available, going back to ‘normal’ will, in fact, be different and demanding, and what continues in the light of coronavirus is asking much of you when you are already very stretched. So, change the timing or regularity of public services in church buildings; try a pattern that is more likely to be sustainable for the next few months; review expectations and need regularly – and it’s OK to try something and then change it. Do less, but do it well.”
House of Bishops backs phased approach to revising access to church buildings
The House of Bishops is continuing to review advice to clergy on the Church’s efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The Bishops have agreed in principle to a phased approach to lifting restrictions with regard to church buildings, in time and in parallel with the Government’s approach, with three broad stages as infection levels improve.
An initial immediate phase has allowed very limited access to church buildings for activities such as streaming of services or private prayer by clergy in their own parishes, so long as the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are taken.
Subsequently it is hoped to offer access for some rites and ceremonies when allowed by law, observing appropriate physical distancing and hygiene precautions.
Worship services, with limited congregations meeting, will begin when Government restrictions are eased to allow this.
The Bishops agreed that the decision on the timing of when to implement the revised advice on ministers or worship leaders praying and streaming from their church buildings should be made by individual Diocesan Bishops, depending on their local situation.
In the meantime, let us continue to pray that we will live faithful, loving and hope filled lives until the time when we can once again place out our welcome notice.
What does the future hold and what does it look like for our churches?
The following was sent out in one of the electronic newsletters but I feel is worth including in the magazine as we look to a post Covid19 future. Chris, Editor
Reflections on a newsletter
Reading last week’s newsletter, we were particularly struck by three things:
- If we’re all pensioners at St Helen’s, then we’re a dying and unrepresentative church. In twenty years’ time who will still be there? Can we survive as a church without more younger people, and preferably families, coming to join us?
- Our country’s sudden shift to online church. Most of us have not attended a face to face act of Christian worship for over 10 weeks. In that time, we’ve joined (virtually of course!) services in Bakewell, Derby, Essex, Holy Trinity Brompton, Lambeth Palace and Wellington, New Zealand. Apparently, a quarter of Britons have attended an on line religious service since lockdown began. The Revd. Nicky Gumbel reminds us that ‘The Holy Spirit can work through Zoom’ (The Economist 6th June).
- Bishop Libby’s piece in the June newsletter, with its fourfold injunction to pray, learn, tell, and serve. We feel we’re not as a church doing much telling. We’re told to expect new people to come to church once lockdown eases. It seems quite a risk to expect them to instantly adapt to a weekly Eucharist plus monthly Family/Morning Prayer service.
The gap between church and society has widened considerably in the past 30 or 40 years. How will we encourage new people to become committed members?
Might we as the existing church prepare for the easing of lockdown by setting up some new groups of 4 – 6? A group would preferably represent different backgrounds and traditions, but with a shared aim of sharing the good news of the Christian gospel. The immediate focus would be on getting to know each other over the phone, praying for each other, and mutual support. Over time, some might be able to move to face to face meetings. The aim is to be ready when church reopens. We would then be able to invite newcomers to join a group and to start some course material (YouTube, DVD, Alpha online: the medium is not critical) – helping us to tell or remind ourselves and newcomers what our Christian faith means to us.
If you feel that you would like to join or to lead such a group, then get in touch.
Could under-fives be the key to significant church growth?
(Item from the Parish Pump)
New research has shown that young families with children under five could be a vital element for church growth.
The Talking Toddlers report, using recent research by Savanta ComRes, found that 74% of all parents with children under the age of five have attended a church-based activity in the past year.
Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, assistant director of HOPE Together, said: “We so often hear about aging church, but here is something new – very
young church. Can the church reach a generation of under-fives and their parents? Could they be the missing link for church growth?
“These families are already in touch with us, many are open and questioning and the opportunity is now.’
The research was commissioned by HOPE Together, the Church of England, and the Evangelical Alliance, to highlight the potential for sustained church growth if the church nurtures the faith of under-fives and their parents. The findings include:
- Churches are already in contact with nearly three-quarters of all parents of under-fives in Great Britain.
- 74% of all parents with children under the age of five have attended a church activity in the past 12 months.
- 12% of all parents of under-fives are practising Christians, double the number of practising Christians in the population.
- 62% of all parents of under-fives are not active Christians, but they have attended a church activity for this age group in the past year.
More info at: www.hopetogether.org.uk/talkingtoddlers
How can we work towards this at St Helen’s and in the whole benefice once we are through the Pandemic?
Let’s think and pray!
- Pray for our schools and think about joining the monthly Prayer Group which meets once a month at Churchtown School.
- Get involved with Messy Church Days.
- Find out how we can get involved with and support any services involving school children and parents.
- Help out at and/or pray for Open Door. Look at learning from and extending its new ways of worship and being church.
- Think of new ways we can reach out to children and families, including using modern technology and media.
What effect will coronavirus have on society?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that, following an initial period of great anxiety and confusion, now almost half the population understands that life will not return to normal within the next six months.
Other findings include:
75 per cent of us are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that coronavirus is having on our lives now.
Many parents have struggled with home schooling, with 33 per cent saying it has put a strain on family relationships.
41 per cent of us expect our financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months.
41 per cent of us think that the wellbeing of our child or children is being negatively affected.
But it is not all bleak – a huge 57 per cent of us think that Britain will be more united in the future, and 67 per cent of us say that Britain will be kinder after coronavirus. That is good news!
(Amen to that!)
Coronavirus and our young people
A recent survey by the Prince’s Trust has found increased levels of anxiety among young people because of the crisis. Half of them say that finding a job now felt ‘impossible’.
Seven out of ten young people reported feeling that their life is “on hold”, and a third feel that everything they have worked for was now “going to waste”.
Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, says: “An alarming proportion of young people are feeling increased levels of anxiety, and fears are building about their future. We cannot allow this crisis to cripple the aspirations and prospects of our nation’s young people.”
Another call to prayer! As well as in our own families and friends let us be aware of the many ongoing troubles caused by the Pandemic and pray that they will find peace, hope and a way forward. It effects all ages.
God can do wonders with a broken heart if you give Him all the pieces. – Victor Alfsen
Reflected Faith: a ‘Holding Cross’
Many churches today are using social media to hold public services – either together at the same time or uploaded so you can listen and watch at any time and worship in your home when it is convenient for you.
I find that having a ‘prayer space’ when I join, as well as when I pray alone, enables me to enter into that time of holiness quicker and more fruitfully. It’s like when you physically go to a church building for a service. Your hand holds the door handle and you choose to enter into a sacred space.
Not many of us have the luxury of a separate space where we currently live, and in many ways, I prefer not to distinguish prayer life from everyday life. After all, where does one end and the other begin? God is everywhere; in every room in the house. He’s no less in my home or yours than He is in our locked church buildings. He’s with me when I pray and when I eat, or cook, or watch TV and so on.
One item I appreciate is a cross that I can hold. Ideally one that completely fits into my hand.
There are wooden ‘Holding Crosses’ that you can make or buy especially for this purpose, but you can use any material. Perhaps you could make one out of felt and stuff it, to give it form and solidity.
I have one made from an old plastic book binding strip, which I cut to size. One piece slots into the other, to form the cross shape.
What I appreciate about the holding cross is its firmness, it reminds me that Christ is my firm foundation; that God is solid and dependable. It reminds me also that whatever happens I will cling to Him. And it tells me that as I hold that cross in my hand so I pray that He will hold me forever, never letting me go or fall.
See what materials you have from which you could make a Holding Cross. What feelings and thoughts come to you as you use it in your prayer and worship time?
Revd. Jo White (from the Parish Pump)
And in the news……at home and around the world
Praying for end to coronavirus crisis, for frontline workers and the world’s poor
British adults are praying for an end to the Covid-19 crisis, as well as for frontline workers and those living in poverty both in the UK and around the world, according to a new poll commissioned by Christian Aid.
The research, undertaken by Savanta ComRes, found that one in four (26%) British adults say they have prayed for an end to the Covid-19 crisis since lockdown, while an equal proportion (26%) say they have prayed for people working on the frontline and other key workers since the crisis began.
One in five (21%) British adults say they have prayed for people living in poverty in the UK or around the world since the lockdown.
The poll also indicated that the Covid-19 lockdown is slightly more likely to increase than decrease people’s faith in God (5% vs. 2%), life after death (4% vs. 2%) and the power of prayer (5% vs. 2%). This was particularly true of younger Brits aged 18-24.
Chine McDonald from Christian Aid said: “At times of crisis like the world is experiencing now, faith can play a key part in helping people to cope with daily realities and pressures.”
Methodists raise money for struggling Ugandans
All We Can, the relief arm of the Methodist Church, is appealing to people to support its Emergency Coronavirus Appeal by doing a 10km sponsored walk.
The ‘In Her Shoes’ challenge aims to raise money to buy bicycles for people in rural Uganda, who must spend hours walking to get anywhere.
Having a bicycle will be their first step on the long road out of poverty.
All We Can says: “During this period of lockdown, with public transport banned, bicycles have been an essential way for communities in rural Uganda to visit markets, health centres, and other services. Support for the Emergency Coronavirus Appeal has helped make regularly sanitised bicycles available for these communities – enabling expectant mothers reach health centres to safely deliver their babies, and families to continue to travel to market, to buy and sell vital food supplies. After lockdown is over, bicycles will continue to change the many lives.
You can join the ‘In Her Shoes Challenge’ and raise money for All We Can. Simply create a Facebook fundraiser or a Just Giving fundraising page, and then share it with your friends and family. Details at:
(Perhaps we could send money via Dale Rd Methodist Church. If you are interested let me know and I will contact them to see how they might help. Chris, Editor)
Christian Aid’s concern for women during Covid-19
The ACT Alliance, a network of 135 faith-based actors and churches operating in 120 countries, has called attention to the gendered
dimension of Covid-19. It is urging that the international community,
including churches and religious organisations, should take this into account.
Women are afforded fewer rights than men worldwide, and although the disease itself might cause higher mortality amongst men, it is clear that the social impacts of Covid-19 will impact women the most.
Women living in poverty do not have the ability to take time off work, do not have adequate access to housing to self-isolate, and cannot stockpile provisions.
Poor women, girls and vulnerable groups are least likely to be able to access healthcare and treatment. The situation will be critical for women migrant workers, women on the move and those living in refugee camps or slums.
Daniela Varano, Communications Officer at ACT Alliance said: “Domestic violence cases have risen dramatically as women and girls across most countries have been quarantined, often with their abusers. It is crucial that all governments put in place affirmative actions and inclusive policies that level the playing field.”
ACT Alliance, together with its members, has launched a Global Appeal to support the most marginalised communities during this crisis.
Editor: Mike Truman reports on one group badly hit by lockdown. There is a graphic to go with this story.
Lockdown in Bethlehem
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll of death and illness around the world. However, the statistics don’t always tell the full story.
On the face of it, Palestine has escaped lightly, with only two deaths and under 400 cases at the time of writing; but the economic impact on the people has been devastating.
This is particularly true of the Christian artisans in and around Bethlehem, who make their living carving nativity sets, crosses and other souvenirs from olive wood for sale to tourists and pilgrims.
It’s a tradition that started early in the 14th century, when the Franciscans first settled in Bethlehem. They brought in Italian wood carvers who taught local people how to make olive wood carvings for pilgrims, and the craft has been handed down within families ever since.
A group of Christian pilgrims from Greece brought Covid-19 to Palestine in late February. The first local cases in Bethlehem were discovered on 5th March, and within 48 hours the city was locked down, with no visitors coming in or out, the churches, mosques, shops and schools all closed.
That may seem an extreme reaction, but Palestine’s healthcare system is fragile. If the virus spread through the crowded refugee camps it could be unstoppable.
With no tourists coming in, the artisans have no income. They are growing vegetables in their back gardens to survive. The lockdown was in place until early June, but even then, tourists will not be visiting for months, perhaps a year or more. Their only hope is to sell overseas.
‘Made in Bethlehem’ is a part-time not-for-profit fair-trade business importing the work of these artisans from two fair-trade wholesalers in Bethlehem. The prices are set to just cover the costs of buying, shipping and selling. Normally the goods are sold at craft markets in the UK, but these too are closed at the moment.
If you would like to help the Christian artisans of Bethlehem, please visit the online shop at Facebook, @MadeInBethlehem or email email@example.com
More killings in Nigeria
A recent report from Nigeria claims the latest attacks by Fulani militants killed 620 Christians in the first five months of 2020.
The report, by the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (ISCLRL), follows an attack on the Christian village of Gonan Rogo, which claimed 17 lives, including a father, mother and their three young children.
The report supports claims by partners of UK-based Release International that the attacks are growing and have the characteristics of an undeclared jihad against Christians.
The ISCLRL, an NGO, claims 32,000 Christians have been killed by Islamist militants since 2009. The United Nation puts the figure killed in the conflict in northern Nigeria at 27,000.
One of the latest attacks was against the Baptist village of Gonan Rogo in Kaduna State. Armed Fulani militants waited until around midnight on May 12 until the villagers were asleep then set upon them with guns and knives.
According to Release’s sister organisation Voice of the Martyrs (USA), the attack on Gonan Rogo was part of a wave of 13 assaults by Fulani militants on villages in Kaduna and Plateau states.
‘The Nigerian government is at best ineffective, at worst reluctant, to prevent these attacks,’ says Release CEO Paul Robinson. ‘Christians in Nigeria have faced an onslaught by Boko Haram terrorists. Now they are having to endure even more deadly attacks by armed Fulani militants. How many more Christian villagers have to die before Nigeria’s military and police take effective action?”
As Lockdown is eased step by step, what does that mean regarding the opening of our churches?
The official position:
Taken from Diocese of Derby eNews
(Why not add your name to the mailing list if you haven’t done so already? Just go to the Derby Diocese website.)
Individual prayer in churches – what are the rules?
The Government has allowed churches to open for individual prayer.
However, it is not compulsory for churches to open and, in the Diocese of Derby, it remains a decision for each church to decide what it can achieve within the guidelines and regulations.
Some churches are already opening for private prayer; others will do so soon – and there are some that may not be able to open for some weeks, or even months.
Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households.
Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not yet permitted.
Members of the public are advised to check a church’s website or check with the vicar before going to a church to pray.
Quote from Duncan Ballard’s newsletter:
Churches MAY open for private individual prayer. However, churches can only open after a full risk assessment has been undertaken, because the safety of the public is paramount. We also need to ensure there is an adequate cleaning regime in place, and the church can be stewarded.”
Services in Church
Churches are now allowed to open for services. However, just because they are permitted to open, just like opening for private prayer, it does not mean they have to. A lot of measures have to be put in place to ensure the safety of all and the churches in the United Benefice are not opening for services at the moment. Please look at the newsletter / magazine / and this website for further updates when decisions have been made. Hand sanitizer has been bought along with masks and gloves for stewards, posters are being made ready and our churches are being looked at to see how we may ensure social distancing. Careful planning is needed and it is important not to rush into anything.
Our United Benefice income has been really hit these past few months. Many of the parishes in our Diocese are really hit because people have sadly lost jobs or are on furlough and very worried about the future.
We are in a slightly different situation where most of our community are on pensions etc so I’d ask you please could you continue to make your offerings sending them to Mr Ian Sutton our UB Treasurer. Remember the offerings you give are to God’s greater glory and for His Service. When our churches are getting ready to be up and running, we’ll really need as much money as people can afford. Those who know me know that I don’t like asking for funds but the reality is to keep going when this pandemic is more stable, we need the funds to move forward.
Coming to Church
When it’s safe to come into our church buildings, there will be new members who have been hit by the big questions in life. This often happens after a national or international crisis. So, I ask you to please pray for those who are thinking of coming to church in our United Benefice. When we finally return please be welcoming.
Together while apart
- Sunday 10.30am sharing in a service – outline as suggested by Stephen or using the one in Pandemic Prayers.
- Sunday 7.00pm lighting a candle and sharing in the prayers sent out by Audrey and a short service – the Compline in Pandemic prayers or one on the CofE website for example.
- Printing this off for folk without the internet or forwarding it to those who do.
- Prayer needs – let me know to circulate to prayer team