Letter to parishioners

17 March 2020

My dear friends

You will no doubt be aware that, because of the grave circumstances in which we find ourselves, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a pastoral letter, appended to this email, giving effect to their decision to suspend all church services and meetings.

This leaves us in unprecedented territory, and my hope and prayer is that we will discover ways of being the church together without meeting in our normal gatherings.   I believe that it will bring out the best in our communities, which have already shown remarkable examples of generosity and service, but it will doubtless also impose strains, and none of us is exempt from that.

I do think that we should all do our best to observe the restrictions being asked of us by the government, for the sake of our own health and well-being and for the common good.    

Please note that the archbishops are calling us all to observe this Sunday, 22 March (Mothering Sunday), as a Day of Prayer and Action.   We are all invited to put a lighted candle in our front windows at 7pm as a sign of solidarity and hope.

On Thursday of this week I will be visiting each of our churches and praying in it.  I will also be putting a notice up on the door inviting people to use the church and I will be leaving prayers for people to use.  I will also be arranging for prayers to be said in each church on Sunday and will arrange, if possible, for a bell to be rung. This will not be a public service.  I am asking the wardens to ensure that, as far as is practicable, churches remain open as usual.

As yet, I have no further information on funerals, weddings and banns of marriage. I imagine that we may be permitted to do burials and cremations and to hold memorial services at a later time, but this is pure speculation.    We have a number of weddings booked, including a few in the fairly near future.

Other matters:

In recent weeks some of you have been meeting in homes as part of the Travelling Together course, which has been part of our Lenten observance.   I know that some of these groups have discovered a real sense of fellowship and mutual support.   I hope that you will continue to connect by email, phone and text, and that the groups will resume when things are better. My thanks to the leaders and hosts.

It is fortunate that we were able to hold four of our Annual Parochial Church Meetings before the present arrangements were imposed.  However, those at Wendlebury, Weston and Hampton Gay have not yet taken place.  Under the current rules they should take place by 31 May, but I suspect these rules will be suspended, and I await guidance.

Many of you will be aware that Nick Ktorides, our new House for Duty priest, will be moving to Chesterton with his wife Shuba on 25 March.  Clearly it will be in very unusual circumstances and it may be some time before you get to meet them.  I can only assume that the service of licensing planned for 2 April is cancelled.   I am sure that Bishop Colin can license Nick privately, and we can have a service of welcome in due course.  We are arranging a welcome pack of groceries to be delivered to the house.   If any of you feel inclined to welcome them with a cake, bottle, or box of chocs I am sure that would be very much appreciated.  Please be aware that Shuba is currently unwell and is unlikely to be making a public appearance for the time being.

Warmest good wishes and prayers at this difficult time,
Gareth