Pastoral letter during first months of the pandemic

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Last updated on 26th May 2020

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Dear friends, 

Recent weeks 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 but then on 10th May he announced the relaxation of some restrictions.  

Quite rapidly we've had to work out how best we can be the church, witnessing to Christ’s love in the midst of our anxiety and serving our communities across the Churn Valley. The CofE has issued strong guidance which is frequently updated. 

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 appearance of Scruffy the Dog!  Video recordings and order of service are still available via the CVB YouTube channel. We will keep you informed about any initiatives by way of weekly Clergy Updates, 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 but but please be aware of safeguarding issues! Otherwise, please use the contact form to request pastoral care and/or practical support. 

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us (listed below) for help and advice. 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.

Every blessing

David – 01285 655199

Arthur – 01242 870402

Cliff - 01242 243981

Jan – 01285 640077

Mark – 01285 831209

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