Exploring ideas

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Ernest
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Post by Ernest » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:02 am

Hi Roger,

Before I joined my current parish, I was in a Rural Parish with five Churches and one Priest. During my time there, they added another four parishes to our charge.

We gained a HFD priest on this transaction and than got a Curate, which made a real difference. Than a couple of years down the line, the Incumbent moved on, as did the curate, than the HFD priest retired. 9 churches reliant on locums for over two years. I was treasurer for the Benefice Council and was deeply involved on PCC, at the same time trying to discern a vocation. It became to much and I had to move elsewhere, to my current parish, with a supportive incumbent who saw me through training for LLM (or Reader in old money).

I was deeply involved here on PCC for five years, but last year on my 70th Birthday, I left PCC to concentrate on Ministry, with a new Incumbent after a relatively short vacancy. He is great, supportive, imaginative and prepared to take risks. He has embraced our differing traditions whole heartedly and having a young family in the Vicarage has made a huge change to our outlook. The previous three incumbents were either single or had grown families, so no children, which didn't help to bring in families or for them to feel really welcome. In the last 12 months, a number of new families have joined the parish, baptisms have doubled and we had six weddings booked this year, sadly, now four have had to cancel because of the virus. Hopefully two still go ahead in September and October.

We have to be alive to those who come, particularly from different backgrounds, some without any experience of being in Church. Our welcome is something we've really worked on and it has borne fruit.

We also have distinctive congregations for services. We have those who love and comfortable with BCP (not all are over 70 like me) or where early or late services allows them to meet work commitments or family commitments. Those who come to CW services are in the main, families, but also a mix of single elderly, many widowed. We have active Scout, Cubs, Guides and Brownies etc, who come into church monthly for a parade service, during term time.

And we now have to consider all of those who've joined us, perhaps 20 odd and signed up for the electoral roll. Only through online services. We need to work out how, with all of the physical limitations which will prevent a high attendance at any individual service to still provide for their worship and spiritual and pastoral needs via the medium that they are comfortable with.

So, not changing anything isn't an option. How we will shape the future mission and ministry to meet all of the different needs is something we are actively praying about and thinking about. Which will be a combination of Incumbent, PCC and Ministry Team and others who hopefully, will join in the conversation.

Too early to see how this will develop, but I have hope that God, who is working through this with us will give us inspiration via the Holy Spirit to bring his Kingdom closer to our community.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
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rogerjames
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Post by rogerjames » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:57 am

Thanks Ernest. Interesting and apposite. I was certainly not "murmuring" as St Benedict puts it - but highlighting some of the issues. Ours is a welcoming and an imaginative community, and I know we all miss each others company. R.
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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rogerjames
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Post by rogerjames » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:18 am

Caught on the Radio today:
'When a monk stands in prayer, if he is alone, he does not pray at all.'
R.
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Post by rogerjames » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:39 am

Reflecting on this, we learn from the pandemic of Coronavirus that we do not HAVE to be physically present to be praying together. I feel I am still in congregation with my parish, associated contemplative communities and of course i-church.

I did have a thought. I wonder how many parish churches have used their church bells to remind their local community to pray? I am reminded of "The Angelus". Is it time to bring something like this back?

R
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Joyce
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Post by Joyce » Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:50 pm

rogerjames wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:39 am
Reflecting on this, we learn from the pandemic of Coronavirus that we do not HAVE to be physically present to be praying together. I feel I am still in congregation with my parish, associated contemplative communities and of course i-church.

Hear hear, Roger !

I did have a thought. I wonder how many parish churches have used their church bells to remind their local community to pray? I am reminded of "The Angelus". Is it time to bring something like this back?

R
I suppose it depends on the ring and where the rope room, if there is one, is in terms of permitted access. In the Parish where I lived in my teens there was a single bell that could be rung by whoever was standing by the main door, usually the vicar. That could be done under present circumstances with no problem at all.

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Post by rogerjames » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:33 pm

I had not got as far as thinking practical things like access, Joyce. I like the idea of a parish deciding to invite local people to pray when they hear their own church bell during lockdown. I can't help but feel some folks just might. It worked in olden days and we still have the kit. I know we can email, surf, message, zoom etc, and I could not be a greater fan of technology - but just hearing a bell and remembering to listen to God - it sounds such a simple and appropriate idea in these difficult times - but I have not heard anyone suggesting it. If it were down to me I'd ask our local Roman Catholics to choose a suitable time and take on ringing the Angelus, and then get everyone else to follow their example and say an appropriate prayer or short office. Why not? R
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Joyce
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Post by Joyce » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:10 am

Ringing a bell would be a great idea where the layout of a church allowed for it. I wonder if it happens anywhere ? Any churches I know of with bells need a team of ringers. Bells on Sunday's a sound I've not heard since lockdown. I hope they peal out loud and long as soon as it's allowed.

We don't have any RC churches around our way - not church buildings as such, anyway. Their two congregations meet in schools.I must do a search to find out what the Angelus is.I've heard the term but never checked.

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Ernest
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Post by Ernest » Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:30 am

We have a Catholic Church "Our Lady of the Angels" nearby, run by Fransicans. They have a Church School adjacent names "St Fidelis" and a joint community centre called "The Angelus Centre". So right up their with full Catholic worship and the Angelus bell is rung daily.

At the time of closure, they have been obedient to the rules and the bell has been silent. Now that they are open for Private Prayer, the Angelus bell has returned.

In our parish, we have a single bell. It was rung by the Vicar during the week for the commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of the Grenfell Fire, apart from that it has been silent since the lockdown started.

In normal times that bell is rung five minutes before the start of main services by one of the sidespeople and for weddings and funerals. It also tolls when the clock strikes the hour and half hour on a timer. And people set their clocks by it. Unfortunately due to the lockdown, it couldn't be reset to the correct time so it is still on wintertime, and it is apparently amusing people ringing the vicarage telling the Vicar that the Church Clock is wrong, not appreciating the reason for it. I suspect that the vicar or his wife will be a little jaded by now.

But the bell is important during the lock down as a sign of continuity that the church building might be closed, but God is still there, perhaps eagerly awaiting the return of worshipers.

I am longing to be back in church, but the earliest will probably be after 4th July before we will actually reopen. We haven't opened for private prayer as the Vicar and most of us who keep the church open are still sheltering at least until the 4th July (if the government lifts the rules for us) but we have no idea whether the government will make an announcement any time soon on that topic.

At the moment the Vicar is carrying out the CofE guided "Risk Assessment" along with the Church Warden, but the social distancing measures will need to be reduced to make it viable. And masks will probably be mandatory as well.

I miss receiving communion, although Spiritual Communion is possible if you adhere to the bit in the BCP which explains it. But nothing for me can replace receiving the Sacrament physically. How long Lord, How Long?
Where there is hope and love there is life!
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God is Love!
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rogerjames
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Post by rogerjames » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:01 am

Thank you for that comment, Ernest apposite as always. I understand the "silence of the Bells" but would have thought a single tolling at a fixed time every day would send a positive signal to all who heard it.
Roger
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Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Post by rogerjames » Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:32 am

As the Covid-19 pandemic proceeds, parishes everywhere have been reviewing the possibilities and gearing up to some kind of live worship, with many churches already open for silent prayer. A great deal of worship and pastoral work is being handled online - by email, Zoom, facebook etc. and a lot of thought has gone into alternatives such a open air services. Here we have a community used to mid-week communion and regular full Sunday communion too. We have all missed that.

Now I know that the Church will be taking the best advice it can get, scientific and "tactical" - but the problem is knowing how to weigh the information and advice being given. I have the disadvantage of having some understanding of epidemics, albeit from an animal health perspective, and have also spoken with medics "on the front line" whose views are somewhat less "gung ho" than the political messages would suggest. They agree with me - the danger is still there - and what is more, further dangers could be waiting in the wings. There is no way we can "put the genie back on the bottle" and relax, especially with the winter 'flu season in the offing.

Here's my dilemma. I miss taking communion with our congregation. However, I am in a high risk category due to age and several preexisting health conditions. Because of past professional experience I have grave reservations about the way the pandemic has been handled and the attendant risk of a "return to normality". Frankly, I doubt whether I shall feel safe to receive communion in the foreseeable future. I am not even sure I will feel safe attending corporate acts of worship - even if socially distanced.

I persevere with my prayer life at home, try to keep in touch with parishioners and the ministry team and communities including i-church, but it is hard to know what to do and how to "play" it. I don't want to appear to be rejecting the Church's best efforts, or rock the boat by arguing against any well-meant proposals, but I think I have a difficult decision to make. I think it may well be:

"...But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray."

Roger :minicandle:
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Joyce
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Post by Joyce » Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:07 pm

These things are not easy. Physical,economic, mental and spiritual health are all entangled with one another. The good health of livestock, for instance,in a third world country makes a difference between a community's ability to thrive and enjoy life versus literal starvation. In the Bible, a 'murrain' on cattle is regarded as a curse. How an epidemic of foot-and-mouth in animals or a blight on crops is managed by those whose job it is to do so impacts the chances of human survival. If there's nothing to eat or take to the marketplace there's no point even thinking about education, socialisation, entertainment or worship because nobody will be alive.

Running countries during a human pandemic is the same issue writ large. Additionally it requires widespread co-operation of the public and there are other limitations - selective slaughter, for example, is not an option. Your expertise and experience, Roger, in this area is bound to make you wonder about the models followed by governments in the present crisis.Those in power know that a collapse of an economy results in chaos with subsequent danger-level poverty.They also know that an uncontrolled,severe spread of natural infection brings that about in a short time anyway. How well or badly they strike a balance is a matter of life and death. Speculation and hindsight have a field day.

I think you can only make decisions for yourself and advise those who'll listen. So far as churches are concerned, if one is going to be endangered by attending a B and M church service in person, then stay online for spiritual sustenance. Leaping germs don't know whether you're in a pub or a pew.If you want to receive Holy Communion again when it's safe to do so, take whatever measures are presently necessary to stay alive and well long enough.

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Post by rogerjames » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:21 pm

All sensible stuff, Joyce. Thank you for such a helpful response. It is a dilemma. It's not that I can't keep going on my own without live church services, of course I can and I will, but there is an important trade off through contact with others, whoever they are. My spiritual director would say you need to take part in corporate worship and to see Christ in your fellow worshipers. I like that way of expressing it and feel it to be good advice.
Roger
Roger James

Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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