Letter to parishioners, 3 July 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

I would like to start my letter this week with an enormous ‘Thank You!’ I want to begin by concentrating on something positive. Since the national period of lockdown began the Church, as it exists in Benefices such as ours, has felt an increased sense of isolation from the national organisation. For a long time, pronouncements about how churches might and should be functioning have seemed to be focused on large urban churches and cathedrals. Long and complicated documents have been issued by way of guidance and regulation, most of which have no relevance whatsoever to our small rural communities, and yet have the considerable weight of episcopal authority behind them. Despite all of this, there has been in every community a dedicated team of people who have continued to support the work and mission of Christ’s church here in our Benefice. I want to thank each and every one of those people for their commitment to the life of the Church in the Corby Glen Group of Parishes. I would love to be able to thank each of them by name, but … Everyone knows that if I start down that line I will, inevitably, miss someone and cause great and unintentional offence. So, please do know just how grateful I am for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do to keep the Church alive and relevant in our six parishes.

As you will know, we were given the option of opening our churches for private prayer a couple of weeks ago. Following the advice of our Bishops, we have been planning for sustainability and the careful observance of all guidance and procedures in relation to the protection of everyone against the Covid 19 virus. However, we do have the measures in place for two of our churches to re-open for Private Prayer in the coming week. The Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Corby Glen, will be open for Private Prayer between 12 noon and 3pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Parish Church of St Andrew, Irnham, will be open for Private Prayer between 10am and 1pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. During these times people will be welcome to spend quiet time in the Lord’s house although, I’m afraid, all the now familiar distancing and hygiene procedures must be followed.

As I said last week, the Bishops have fully endorsed the suggestion that, primarily because of my own health situation, none of the churches in the Benefice will be open for Public Worship until the beginning of August. As the situation becomes clearer over the next couple of weeks, I will be formulating the procedures we will be following to achieve this, again in line with the guidance offered by our Bishops.

Finally for this week, Sunday, 5th July will see the marking of a significant anniversary in the life of our National Health Service. In support of the national initiatives to thank those who work in the NHS for their dedication and commitment throughout the national pandemic, there will be a short prayer service available on our Benefice Website from 4pm on Sunday. I invite you all to continue to join in the collective worship and prayer that is on offer in various different forms. Please contact me if you need help with accessing any of the prayers, reflections, sermons, letters, etc. that are regularly posted on our website.

With every blessing and many thanks to you all,

Revd Stephen