We are in a season of change, perhaps more so than for a while.
June, please God, will see the lessening of COVID restrictions. The last 14 months have been extraordinarily hard for all of us in many different ways. We have seen an easing of restrictions on May 17th and all restrictions are due to be withdrawn later this month. It is clear that this will all be dependent on the spread of the Indian variant.
One of the unseen costs of the pandemic has been it’s impact on people’s mental health. During my recent study leave, I read much about a theology of mental health and the importance of silence for our wellbeing, and I trained as Mental Health First Aider for both youth (8-18 year olds) and adults.
I am absolutely convinced that we haven’t seen the full impact on people’s mental health yet. I believe the local church and our deanery can and should play a significant role in supporting our young people and adults in the months and years that lie ahead.
The Children’s Society produces an annual Good Childhood Report. This data led piece of key research gives a clear idea of children in our nation are physically and mentally. They have produced some superb resources to help us a churches support our communities in this work and I am looking forward to partnering with them in some key and important work. I will share more details about what part we can play in our prayer, our worship and in campaigning.
June also sees change in personnel. Sam, Emily and Arthur move to Bushy to begin ministry there. Paul Palmer completes his training and will be ordained and serve as curate in Croxley Green. I am in negotiations to welcome a retired cleric joining us as a parish. They will lead worship at least once a month and bring great experience, wisdom and humour. I look forward to letting you know more when I do. Also, we have offered our parish as training parish again, and I hope that we will hear in the Autumn whether we will be given the privilege of training a curate again. Again when I know, so will you.
I shared with the PCC when it last met, some hopes I have for us as church communities as we move into the summer and autumn. Conveniently and hopefully memorably they all begin with the letter P.
Firstly, we will Pray. We have been using a prayer written by Anne Peat at every act of worship and on our own at home. By praying, we have been committing ourselves, our churches and wider communities to God as we live with COVID. As we move forward, I am more sure than ever of the vitality and importance of praying. We must commit ourselves to becoming a people who pray regularly and intentionally as we move forward. There will be a new prayer for us to use daily; there will be opportunities for us to gather to pray together; there will be a course about prayer running in the Autumn and we’ll be running a short training on leading intercessions on Sundays - for those who have been leading prayers for a long time and an opportunity for those of you haven’t tried doing this before to discover resources and to learn how to lead intercessions well.
Secondly we will Play together. We have spent the last 14 months or so at home. We haven’t been able to interact with each other in the ways we used to for obvious reasons. Starting in the Autumn, we will have a rolling programme of opportunities to be together and enjoy one another's company (assuming it is safe to do so.) Some of these will be free events, some will be paid. Some will be bigger in scale. Some will be able to take place in a home. Some will be aimed at different sections of our community. Some will be for all. I am confident that there will be things for every one of us to enjoy with others. Rebuilding our friendships with each other and with the wider community are going to be so important going forward, and hopefully lots of fun too!
Thirdly we will Plan. We need to spend time planning for our present and our future. We need to look at all that the parish used to offer in terms of mission and ministry and our current resources. We need to discern how we best serve our communities where they are now and as who we are now and with what resources we have now, having looked at where we live, who we live amongst and the needs of our wider communities. This will help us to sense what God’s vision is for our communities and what part we can play in supporting and resourcing our wider communities.
Lastly, because we are in a period of transition and change please bear with us in terms of our worship over June. Our services for the first three weeks will be as follows:
11.00am Parish Service at St Peter’s car park and Valedictory to the Framptons
9.30am St Thomas’ - Sung Eucharist
11.00 am St Peter’s - Sung Eucharist to Celebrate Fr Alan Horsley’s 60th Anniversary of his priesting.
11.00 am St John’s - Said Eucharist
9.30am St Thomas’ - Sung Eucharist and Valedictory to Paul Palmer
11.00 am St Peter’s - Sung Eucharist and Valedictory to Paul Palmer
6.00pm St John’s - Said Eucharist)
I hope to finalise the rest of the month and July imminently, but please be patient as we work out the final details.
In the meantime please pray for each other as I pray for you.