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(Click on text for link to site)                         © Park Grove Methodist Church 2020

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Latest information, continued, on the

Coronavirus situation regarding the Circuit

And Park Grove Methodist Church

Nidd Valley Circuit

Covid-19 Newsletter 2

18th March 2020


Dear friends


Thank you for bearing with the staff team over these past few days.  We have been waiting for information from the Connexional Team and then needed space to digest it and work out the practical and spiritual implications for our circuit.  

The staff team met this morning physically and will continue to meet digitally on a weekly basis from now on and we will continue to share information as soon as we can.  

Please note and share the following as widely as possible - it is for all members/adherents/friends etc etc.


- the decision taken yesterday to cease all activities, meetings and services is in effect for the foreseeable future.  

The Connexional Team have noted this advice is up to Easter but we suspect that this is a longer term situation.  We are not prepared to put a timescale on this and will await advice.  

Please note that this does not mean that we are closed, far from it!  Please do not use language of closure. We have suspended lots of work but we are very clearly open for business, just not in a physical capacity!


- on the circuit website and facebook page there are resources for worship at home.  

Please encourage everyone you know not to turn up at churches on Sunday as all churches MUST remain locked.  

Whilst the Anglican church are providing space for prayer, the Connexional advice is clear.  We will be providing other opportunities to join together for worship.  

This applies for everything - we are NOT opening our buildings for prayer but are clearly providing lots of opportunities for people to connect and pray.


- this coming Sunday, Mothering Sunday, we are likely to have some people who may still try to attend who do not know the services are suspended.  

As a staff team we have worked out which churches cannot ensure that everyone knows and we will be sorting someone to sit outside those churches around the time worship should be beginning and to offer the Isolation service and other materials.  

Some of these will be covered by staff, others will need to be covered by stewards or church members who are not in ‘at risk’ categories.  

We are hoping during Lent to include a simplified Lenten Cross liturgy and the staff team are working on this at present.  Lent Reflections are available from a number of churches - please contact your minister for more information.  


- Worship will continue.  There are many ways to link in with worship and each week we will be producing a ‘What’s on this week’ which we will circulate via email, the web and facebook.  

If you do not have a facebook account you can still view our Facebook page by going to www.facebook.com/NiddValley (Click here) and it will allow access as a guest.


- Sundays - we are working on a plan for worship to be ‘published’ each Sunday on the Facebook page, led by staff or others who are not in ‘at risk’ categories.  

These will be pre-recorded during each week and will be released at 1030am each Sunday.  

They will be a 30ish minute service of the word.  

We are looking at ways of recording some music which is old enough to be out of copyright.  

Local Preachers & Supernumeraries are asked to consider if they are not in an ‘at risk’ category whether they would be ‘planned’ ie willing to be filmed either leading the worship or preaching and if so to let me know.  

Anything filmed would need to be the preacher’s own material (ie no meditations/poems/prayers from elsewhere without written permission of the author) or we will be breaking copyright.  

Anyone willing to be part of this, please let Ben know as soon as possible.


- Daily Prayers - every morning at 8am (Monday to Saturday) one of the staff will lead a short morning devotional (roughly 10-15 mins) based on the Methodist Worship Book morning prayer.  

You will not need anything to join in apart from yourself and a computer.  

This will be a live feed on our Facebook page.  

Other live feeds will be available from time to time but these will be advertised on ‘What’s on this week’.


- Nidd Digital - an online Bible study group!  Something we were intending to launch later in the year but may as well do now.  

Grace has been working on this and it is a Facebook group.  

To access and contribute you will need a facebook account.  If you don’t know how to do this, we can help - just ask a member of staff and we’ll send you instructions.


- Holy Week - the staff are working on ways we can journey together through Holy Week and celebrate Easter.  Watch this space for more information.


- Communion - this is a difficult area as it naturally involves contact with people however minimal but we are also very aware of just how important receiving Communion can be for some people.  

The staff are working on ways to do Extended Communion delivered to your door safely.  Watch this space for more information.  


- June to August plan - we have no idea when worship will resume in churches.  

I have been asked by a number of people whether it would appropriate to have a celebration when we come out of the other side of Covid-19.  

At the minute the staff are not taking any decision on this as there is a possibility if we ‘celebrated’ too soon then we could cause a new spike and we also need to remember that some people may not feel like celebrating.  

For the June to August plan, it is our intention to go ahead to make the plan as normal as if we were able to be together on 7th June, however this is not an indication of our intent to be at worship then.  

We suspect though that we will be able to worship again at some point in the summer and we will simply pick up the plan from that Sunday.  

So Local Preachers/Supernumeraries etc are asked to still submit their plan dates by noon on 1st April.  Please ensure this is done as it going to be even harder to chase people.  

Everyone now has 2 weeks to do this - if you can do it today, please do so.


- lay employees - we have been advised to ensure we act pastorally with our lay employees.  

There is often other work that they can do during this temporary cessation of activities, even if this is not their normal work.  

Cleaners could spend their time cleaning parts of the churches that rarely get sorted.  


- pastoral work - obviously with immediate effect all face-to-face pastoral visits have ceased but Pastoral teams around the circuit are encouraged to ensure that all members/friends have frequent phone or email contact.  

One idea is for each church to use their pastoral visitors as conduits of information to and from the minister.


- ‘walk by’ blessings - one or two of the staff are intending to announce times when they will be sat on particular church walls and people can come past, staying the required distance away, and the staff member will offer a smile and a verbal prayer of blessing.  

These will be advertised in the ‘What’s on this week’ notes and are open to all not just those in the church whose wall is being used!


- financials - the Connexion and the Circuit are only too painfully aware of the impact this virus could have on the finances of our churches however we can take some practical action.  

Church Treasurers are advised to chat with their minister/stewards but to take all ways possible of encouraging people to still give.  

In the weekly pre-recorded service there will be a moment when we pray over the offerings of the people across the circuit.  

We are encouraging Church Treasurers to provide the bank account details to people so if they can they can set up a Standing Order through online banking.  

If people still want to give through cash they are invited to either use their giving envelopes or to put the money weekly into a dated envelope and then they can give all the money in the first offering on their return.  

Some churches have chip and pin banking devices - these can be made available for contactless giving only.  Other options include JustGiving pages and a weekly/monthly reminder from the Treasurer to continue to give.  

However it is worth noting that this is exactly the sort of situation that reserves are set up for so we shouldn’t be too frightened of using them if we need to.


- meetings - if this wasn’t clear before, let me reiterate, all meetings are cancelled or postponed.  

Circuit Meeting will be reconvened when we can.  

Any remaining Church Councils, Annual General Meetings will need to be moved as well.  

Some churches will have the facility for meetings to be held digitally but it is strongly suggested that we use this time as a Sabbath rest from meetings etc.


- funerals/baptisms/weddings - advice is changing on this at present and the District Supers group are seeking clearer advice from Connexion.  

The current advice is that these can take place but with restrictions.  

However the Staff agree that if we are suspending all activities then these cannot take place on church premises.  

At present the Staff would advocate that any funerals are held at this time only at the Crematorium and only for the Funeral Director, Minister and absolute immediate family and would consist of a bible reading, prayers of commendation, committal and a blessing followed by a memorial service to be held in church at a future date.


- Bookings - whilst we have suspended everything this also means that we have suspended all those who book our premises with obvious exceptions.  

These are those on front line ministries such as food banks and homeless services where particular hygiene care will need to be enforced, but it’s essential that we continue to serve.  

Please ensure all bookings know they are suspended until further notice.  

Maybe say definitely until Easter and put on notice in April and May.


- Resources - the staff are building up a huge range of resources which we will share over the coming weeks.  

Trinity Junior Church are going to be working on ‘Junior Church at Home’, providing weekly materials for families to do together at home.  

We are investigating other options for young people and families including videos of Godly Play sessions.


Please be assured of our prayers at this time and please do pray for the staff team.  

On a personal note I will be unavailable next week, Monday to Thursday.  

I was due to be away at Connexional Candidates Selection Committee in Cambridge which has now gone digital so I will still be unavailable as if I was down there physically.


Blessings to all at this difficult time.                                                            


Rev Ben Clowes                

Superintendent, Nidd Valley Circuit

 



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