Updated on 25th March at 18:00
Recent days have been confusing and fast changing as precautions to control COVID-19 have left many of us with feelings of disquiet and concern. On Monday 23rd March the Prime Minister announced a strict new regime. All public gatherings of more than two people are to be outlawed with the threat of fines; the doors of our parish churches have been locked. Church weddings and baptisms are banned. SCROLL DOWN...
Now, without the opportunity for regular worship services, we are thinking about how we can best be the church, witnessing to Christ’s love in the midst of our anxiety and serving our communities across the Churn Valley.
Firstly we will pray. We had hoped all our church buildings would be kept open for visitors throughout every day but on 25th March the UK Government decided the doors must be locked for the foreseeable future. However, our churchyards offer a quiet space to come for prayer and reflection. The clergy and Readers are always happy to receive your prayer requests; please don't hold back!
There are prayer resources available on this website and in the Porches of our church buildings for those who could use some guidance in prayer.
At present we are allowed to leave home once a day to take a form of exercise... so why not visit our churchyards which offer a sanctuary of beauty and peace; whilst remaining at least a couple of metres away from others.
We are setting up a regular pattern of prayer across the benefice and are thinking about how we can do that creatively.
There may be ways of using technology that you can share in. Some of our sermons are available on this website. On Mothering Sunday (22nd March) we broadcast a 10-minute service of Morning Prayer using Facebook live feed. There was also a special apearance of Scruffy the Dog! Video recordings and order of service are still available via the Facebook Group of the Churn Valley Benefice. We will keep you informed about any initiatives by way of this website, Parish Link and our Facebook Group.
Then there are opportunities to serve our neighbours. It has been heartening to see on social media so many offers of shopping or other practical help for the elderly, vulnerable or those who are self-isolating. If you have access to local social media (such as Facebook or the Nextdoor app) do take up those offers; and if not, or if you prefer, please contact me or any of the Churn Valley Church team (listed below), who will be able to help or point you in the direction of the support you need. Please do not hesitate to be in touch. And if you know of anyone who might need help or you have concerns for someone, please let us know – it isn’t being nosey, it’s being neighbourly!
With children at home now throughout the day there will be increased pressure on our foodbanks. If you are able to donate but can’t get to a foodbank, please use the Porches of our parish churches as places to drop off tinned or dried food or other essential items (tasty treats are also appreciated). We are now collecting on a regular basis from boxes in the Porches of our nine church buildings. Your donations will be taken regularly to the Cirencester Foodbank.
If you are someone who supports our churches with regular financial giving please don’t stop giving to the church. Or if you don’t usually support the church but would like to make a donation it will be much appreciated. Our income from collections has also disappeared and we too need to survive in order to serve.
Please take care of your own health – including your mental well-being. The uncertainty of our times may leave you feeling anxious and depressed. Hopefully you may be able to get out into a garden or open space (taking care not to get too close to others). If you simply wish to talk, we are here for you so please pick up the phone! If we aren’t there just leave a voicemail so we know to get back to you.
A global event like this is a shock to us all, as we have become so used to being self-reliant, able to conquer all things. At this season of Lent we are reminded of our vulnerability: Jesus, suffering and tempted in the wilderness reminds us “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Our own life experiences and what we know from the Bible give us great cause for hope in the future. Through the prophet Jeremiah God tells us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
Let’s not be discouraged, but let us humbly trust in God during the days ahead – and take good care of one another.
David – 01285 655199
Arthur – 01242 870402
Cliff - 01242 243981
Jan – 01285 640077
Mark – 01285 831209