Since lockdown began in March we have produced a service for every Sunday as well as for Good Friday and a Stations of the Cross service for Holy Week. We have used a wide range of people as our preachers ensuring that a variety of places and perspectives are represented.
I had indicated that the services would continue over the Christmas period. We will have a slightly different style of service for Advent, the Sunday after Christmas, and Epiphany using, in place of sermons, reflections written by Nick Fawcett, a Baptist minister, who writes his material from the perspectives of characters in the Biblical stories. These will be mixed with music and prayers. I am pleased that Karen Campbell, our Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries will preach at a Carol Service which is being prepared for the week before Christmas, the Rev’d Kirsty Thorpe of Wilmslow URC (and a former Moderator of General Assembly) will lead a Midnight Communion service on Christmas Eve and the Rev’d Wilbert Sayimani of Richmond St Andrew’s URC in Bournemouth will lead Christmas Day morning worship for us. We hope that whatever is happening in our local churches these resources will be helpful as we mark this holy season in a rather different way this year.
I can also now confirm that, thanks to some administrative and technical help from Dan Morrell, the services will continue until Pentecost in May next year. I am currently recruiting people to lead those services and have already had confirmation from The Rev’ds Memona Shabaz, Helen Everard, Clare Downing, Geoffrey Clarke, Ruth Whitehead, Susan Durber, Cath Atkinson, and Jan Adamson as well as Mr Peter Pay. I’m waiting to hear back from several more who have been invited.
We don’t know what the Winter will bring, the number of Covid cases is increasing fast and it is expected hospital admissions will climb back up again alongside, of course, the winter flu problems. We don’t know if church services will be suspended again – we know in Scotland it is one option the First Minister has been considering as a last resort.
We are aware that many of our churches have not returned to worship yet, those who have may be experiencing problems with pulpit supply, and many of our members have no desire to return to in person worship until they feel it is safe to do so. For all these reasons we are continuing with the services which could be used in place of live services, as an addition to them to further enrich faith, for those who are housebound or shielding, or even used as a form of pulpit supply! We wonder if some churches could plug a memory stick or CD player into a church sound system and play the service – pausing where needed – to offer good worship when there is no one to lead. We do send the services out in advance, a month or so at a time, to a separate list for local church contacts to pass on either through paper, CD or memory pen. We include a link to download the sound file too so it might be used on a local church website or telephone system. If you would like to join that list please click hereand send me an email so I can forward you the October services which were sent out to this “early bird” list last week.
Finally, I wonder if there may be a small number of you who might like to help with some admin stuff on the Daily Devotions. After the writers submit their work I edit and then templates for the Mailchimp Email programme need to be created and the writers’ work transferred over to those templates and queued up ready to be sent out each morning. This admin work is rather dull and very repetitive. I have two people who help already but if we could get a group of 5-6 people who feel comfortable using the email programme and could spare an hour or so a month it would be a great help. If you think this might interest you please do drop me an email and say if you have any experience of Mailchimp (or similar) or if you think you’d be willing to learn.