A weekly message during Lockdown from St Peter’s Vicar, Rev John Rainer
This week I am able to bring you the good news that we are actively working to reopen St Peter’s for worship from the end of this month. For some of us it has been a very long wait. Even now, with a national vaccination programme under way, we won’t be able to return to the way things were before March 2020. We must remember that many regulations remain in place which we must respect for the sake of safety, including social distancing and booking for services, but by the end of this month a certain amount of social contact will be allowed, and we feel that the chance to gather for worship at Easter should not be passed up. At present the plan is to proceed as follows :
Palm Sunday (28th March)
On Palm Sunday, Rachel will be leading All Age Worship online as usual at 9.30am. At 10.45am a small invited group of us will livestream worship from church via the YouTube channel as the first step towards restarting shared worship. The evening service at 6.30pm will also be from church but will contain a number of pre-recorded items with a focus on ‘reclaiming sacred space’ and preparing ourselves for a new season in the church.
On Maundy Thursday in the evening we are currently planning to join with a united online service with St Paul’s and Windhill churches. Look out for details of how to join with this in a couple of weeks. On Good Friday, two half hour services will take place between 2.00pm and 3.00pm, booking necessary with limited numbers. There will not be any united events organised by Shipley Christians Together this year.
On Easter Sunday morning there will be TWO Communion services at 9.30am and 11.00am, each limited to 40 people. Additionally, Rachel will be hosting Easter activities online in the afternoon. At 6.30pm a service will be broadcast online which St Peter’s will be putting together for Shipley Christians Together, with Easter contributions from Christians of all the churches in Shipley.
You will know that between April and June the government plans to gradually lift the restrictions which have been in place. During this period our plan for worship is to continue with the pattern we adopted when the church reopened last year. Until restrictions are totally lifted it is unlikely that it will be possible to reintroduce sung worship, communion with both bread and wine, or refreshments in church, although we are wanting to reintroduce all these things as soon as possible after June and are waiting for further guidance from the church and the government.
We have learned to do a lot of things differently over the past year, because we have had to do so. Some of these things have been unexpectedly successful, such as the number of people tuning in to our online worship. What this means is that we will need to work out what we are going to retain from the past year and what we are going to leave behind ; we won’t just be going back to the way things were at the start of 2020. I believe that we must see this as an opportunity to build a better and more effective church at St Peter’s, better equipped to address the future whatever it holds.
Please note that we are planning to hold the Annual Parish Meeting at the more usual point in the year i.e. on Sunday 25th April. At this point we will review where we have got to with the appeal to repair the Hall roof as explained last week. Don’t forget that this is the time when we will need to appoint a new Churchwarden to succeed Karen, and when a number of new PCC members can be elected. It could be you! At a time when we must steer the church in new directions, reaching out to a younger generation and responding to challenges such as climate change, your input could be crucial. Please be praying about this.
With love and prayers,
Thank you for the opportunity of being together in prayer.
As we look forward to the week to come, we pray for an awareness of your love and support in all we do.
We are sorry that we only seem to turn to you in the down times of our lives, and forget to thank you for the good times.
There is so much in your world for which we should be grateful and we offer our thanks now.
Be with us, and all who need your loving touch at this time.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen