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This page collects together all of the news resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
There are messages from our Minister further down the page.
Are you panicking? Frustrated? Try our page of Shared Thoughts - they may help you.
Click images to enlarge...
General Guidance and Resources are available on the National Methodist Church Website
The Media Office have also issued this Week Ahead Update
23 March: The National Methodist Website also has a page entitled Coronavirus: Taking care of yourself and those around you
23 March: The Methodist Church Communications Team has issued this Update
We will not be assembling for worship at church until further notice.
If you wish to continue your worship at home, there are online resources available on the national Methodist website.
Or you can use this Service Sheet
There are also live streamed services available on YouTube from Wesley's Chapel & Leysian Mission:
Sunday 9:45 and 11:00
These are also available as recordings that you may view when you wish.
Also take a look at our resources to help support children and young people during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- films to watch to build resilience
- how to speak to your child
- tips on celebrating kindness, compassion and imagination
Or go to https://www.rootsontheweb.com/ Click on Free Resources on Worship at Home. This also includes resources for families.
Methodist churches are sharing weekday morning prayers online:
10:00 Wesley’s Chapel, London
At 8.00 am this Sunday (29 March), all 39 BBC local radio stations will be joining together for a service from Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. The act of worship was recorded ‘as live’ in Methodist Central Hall Westminster Chapel last Sunday, before stronger social distancing instructions were issued. You can find how to listen to your BBC local radio station here.
Groups, Events and Activities
All other Group meetings, Events and Activities at the church complex are cancelled until further notice.
MINISTER'S MESSAGE (27 MARCH 2020)
Much has happened since my letter of last week. Following the scenes at the weekend when Britain seemed to go in Bank Holiday mode, the whole nation is now required to staying at home for all but the most essential of tasks. We can be grateful to those who continue to work for our wellbeing: medical and care staff who are facing Covid-19 every working day, those involved in food production and supply, those delivering food and other items to our homes, our leaders who are making decisions and taking steps to protect the nation as best as they can. And we can give thanks for the expressions of compassion and care that such a situation can bring out in us.
Earlier this week I received an email from one of the Companions of Julian (CJN) that compared Julian’s times to our current days. In between thinking about GDPR requirements and what I feel I want to have in place before I start my sabbatical, I had already been thinking of Julian; the email from my CJN colleague has prompted my focus for this week’s letter.
Julian of Norwich (born about December 1342) lived through three outbreaks of the plague, an ongoing war with France, devastating floods in Norfolk, failed harvests (the most severe in 1369 leading to widespread famine), the Peasants Revolt, three outbreaks of cattle disease that decimated cow herds (could include what we know as Foot and Mouth), religious persecution within the church and against those who questioned the extravagancies of church hierarchies, crusades, and controversy over who was the rightful pope (there was in Rome and one in Avignon).
I think that there is some similarity – although of course there is a lot that is different – to our own times. And I believe that Julian’s message of God’s love for us is as apt for our own time as it was for hers, even though to articulate it in the way that she does would have not been acceptable to those in power within the church and would have put her at risk. That her writings were kept safe and ‘buried’ until the early part of the 20th century has perhaps meant that they have had a profound reconnection and relevance for us now.
As an anchoress Julian chose to be ‘enclosed’ within a cell built on the side of St. Julian’s church. There is some question regarding whether she was able to access a small garden space at the church – but essentially she was confined to her cell.
The cell would have had a small window through which she would be able to see the altar of the church and the celebration of Holy Communion. There would have been a window into a porch through which her attendant would deliver food and remove waste. And there would have been a heavily curtained window by which people could ask for prayer and spiritual advice and wisdom from Julian. Her cell and her life within it – different to the life that she would have lived previously and the life that much of the population would still have been living – was a place for deeper communion with God – a place of drawing closer and deeper to God in prayer. It was also a time for her to continue to reflect on the visions that she had had whilst she lay grievously ill to the point where everyone including herself, thought that she was dying. And the longer version of her writing was the product of more than 20 years reflection following her illness.
Julian has much to say about prayer, about suffering and sin, about our desire for God and about God’s desire for us as God’s beloved. Her writing has much to say about the love of God, in fact it ends with words that put Love at the very centre of all that is.
We may be familiar with Julian’s words even if we don’t know their origin “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” It might sound like a glib assertion of hope, but rooted within the Revelations of Divine Love we realise that they are words that come from an experience of reality that is far from ideal and that knows suffering, and through it all is a search for God and the goodness of God. Julian in spite of the ways of the church of her time, discovers that in all is God and the love of God. Her book was written in English and not Latin and throughout she has an understanding that the visions, her further reflections and the message that has been given to her are for the benefit of others.
At these times, maybe these words are more readily accessible “He did not say, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted.’ But he said ‘You shall not be overcome’. God wants us to heed these words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both in sorrow and in joy.”
And finally “The greatest honour we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
And this is where I finish this letter, God is our beginning, our end and all that is in between, and God is our now, and the love of God keeps us and holds us. And when we are discouraged or fearful we may ask God to give us the grace to re-discover once again the truth of God’s love for us and all the world. And may this time, when we need to ‘withdraw’ from so much that we usually do, provide us with an opportunity to draw closer to God.
May you know God’s blessings – peace and love,
Minister's Message (20 March 2020)
It is a cliché, but we really are living in unprecedented times.
In the face of Covid-19, grocery items being in short supply in the shops due to panic buying, people facing loss of jobs and income as we are encouraged to limit our social interaction with others by not frequenting the places where we would normally gather, we need all the more to work at having a sense of community! Unlike so many generations before us we must do this as we physically distance ourselves from one another. Of course internet and social media gives us an advantage. I can’t help thinking that it is reminiscent of the sort of fiction of the likes of John Wyndham or 1984 by George Orwell.
But the reality is very different. People are living with fear and anxiety concerning what will happen over the coming weeks and months. We are social beings and I can understand the anxiety that is around social isolation and the potential for increased loneliness and depression.
For us as a church where so much of our church life (worship, fellowship/ study groups, and social activities) relies on our being gathered together, this is particularly challenging and we need to think in creative ways. How can we continue to be the body of Christ that is engaged in service and ministry when so much of what we have previously assumed is no longer in place?
We still need to ‘keep in touch’ with one another by phone or email, to continue to worship God and spend time in prayer in our own homes and to live and witness to the faith that is in us, knowing that we are grounded and held together in God.
So, initial thinking is that a weekly newsletter can be produced that includes a pastoral letter, message or reflection from a minister, local preacher or steward and that also enables us to share and celebrate with one another ie, a section for birthdays and anniversaries etc. It could include a section for prayer requests but as this newsletter will be circulated and will go onto the website we need to be aware of our responsibilities around confidentiality and protecting one another’s vulnerability. Over the weeks the newsletter may well develop and others of you may wish to contribute to it.
We can make available website links to worship resources that we can use at home and maybe some of us will wish to do so at 10.30am on a Sunday morning. And maybe there could be something produced locally that is audibly and visually available via the website.
For those of our community who are unable to access email or the internet and who would like to receive printed copies of the newsletter and worship resources it has been suggested that others living nearby might be willing to print and deliver these documents. We can of course print centrally if necessary, but we are going into the realms of effectively being a dispersed church community rather than a gathered one, and keeping things as local as possible does seem to be a more desirable way to go.
To enable us to maintain our community I am wondering if we can get teams of 2 or 3 people who are able to organise between them opportunities for keeping in touch with 8 -12 others. This will enable the scheme to continue if someone becomes ill or is away (if holidays are still going to happen) etc. Keeping in touch may be by phone or email or both depending on the person’s preferences. If you are willing to be someone who keeps in touch, please let me know and we can ensure that this is up and running as soon as possible. I will take into account existing friendships/fellowship groups etc, but we also need to include others on our membership role and those who are not officially members but still very much part of our church.
On a personal note, I am due to start my sabbatical from the first of April, but there is some regret to be leaving you at this difficult and very different time, and part of me that would relish engaging in the need to be creative and develop ways in which we can do church differently.
Joanne will be the first port of call in my absence.
Worship on Sunday 22nd March
Here are some worship resources that you might like to use for your own worship at home:
The above link also also provides details for live-streamed services.
on Free Resources on Worship at Home. This also include
resources for families.
Churches Together in England invite us at 7pm this Sunday, to light a candle in the windows of our homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
And finally, if you have any suggestions that you think will benefit us as a church community and as we continue in seeking to fulfil our church vision; to be a town centre church aiming to radiate God’s love, as revealed in Jesus Christ, for the local community and the wider world. We seek to help people in their search for God through our worship, prayer and action, please let me, Joanne or one of the church steward’s know.
May the Lord bless you and fill you with peace,