Being Church at Home

From the Revd Dr Ruth Howlett-Shipley

Being Church at Home, Sunday 2nd August 2020

Greetings from the ministry team to everyone and – whether you come to church once a week, once in a while or once in a lifetime – welcome to Being Church Together: At Home.

Revd Jane is away on holiday this week and is hopefully enjoying some well-earned rest after what has been an incredibly busy few months.

Face coverings in Church – I know that over the last few weeks several of you have asked about wearing face coverings in church.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. However, it is important to remember that because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

From 24 July, face coverings became compulsory in all shops and supermarkets in England. Government guidance strongly encourages the wearing of face coverings in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Although it is not yet a legal requirement to wear a face covering in places of worship (although it may well be from 8th August), guidance from the Church of England and Bishop Christopher advises that:

The national Church’s “strong advice” is that both those who worship in church and those who lead worship should wear face coverings, to help keep us all safe. Details of the full guidance can be found at: https://cofeportsmouth.contentfiles.net/media/assets/file/COVID_19_advice_on_face_coverings_v1.0_-_July_23.pdf

So please could you bring, and wear, your face coverings in church.

On the subject of face coverings, over the last few weeks Sue Pittam and her team of volunteers have been sewing face coverings which have been available for a donation of at least £2 in Pages. So far they have raised over £440 which is fantastic, although I am aware that this has taken a huge amount of time and effort. Thank you to everyone who has been involved!

As always, you can be assured that the most recent guidance on coronavirus will be on the diocesan website portsmouth.anglican.org/coronavirus and the national C of E website at churchofengland.org/coronavirus.

On a more general note, those of you who are uncertain of the guidelines about the over-70s coming to church or about coming back to your volunteer roles – or taking up a voluntary role – might find the C of E’s personal risk assessment a useful resource: it’s available via the diocesan website.

PPE-wearing priest presiding at communion, July 2020

You’ve also been asking about when we’ll be getting back to regular services, including communion services. The realistic answer has to be ‘We don’t know’!

In such an uncertain world, to promise a regular pattern of communion services, Cafe Church, evensong, Matins and Quiet Time any time soon would be unrealistic, and in fact we are encouraged to be brave enough to take this break in our ‘usual’ service pattern in the benefice as an opportunity to take a fresh look at our life as a worshipping community.  The ministry team would be delighted to hear your ideas by phone, email or Zoom about all kinds of possibilities! However please be reassured that we are keeping this under constant review.

In the not too distant future we plan to host a Zoom Café (a kind of online Café Church).

The ministry team is aware that there are several in our congregations who are concerned that there has not been an opportunity since before lockdown for us to share in Eucharistic worship together.  With this very much in our minds and prayers these past weeks and, after taking all the diocesan and national Church of England requirements and recommendations into consideration, it seems to us that the time is now right for us to offer a simple, said service of Holy Communion in the benefice from time to time.

The first of these occasional said communion services will be at St John the Baptist Church, Shedfield at 6.00pm on Thursday 6th August (the Feast of the Transfiguration).  Communion will be in one kind (so wafer only) and appropriate social distancing will be in place.

Meanwhile, if you’re self-isolating or shielding at home, please be reassured that the ministry team is especially committed to making worship as inclusive of those unable to join us in church as we possibly can, which is why the ‘Being Church at Home’ services will be posted on the parish websites for the foreseeable future.

As Revd Jane has said over the last few weeks, we will follow the national Church of England and diocesan guidance as we’re required to do, enjoy what we can do, not focus too much on what we aren’t yet able to do, and appreciate the opportunity to share in public worship if individually we feel that the time is right for us to come to services in church.

Today’s worship online: Being Church at Home

Today is the eighth Sunday after Trinity and Trinity 8 readings are used in today’s Morning Prayer service.  Our online Sunday Morning Service – shared by those at home and those in church and prepared by Revd Juliet continues the Trinity 8 theme by focusing on the story of the feeding of the five thousand, with an emphasis on transformation and including a special feature on butterflies!

Public worship this Sunday, 2nd August

Our Sunday morning service will be at St John the Baptist Church, Shedfield at 10.00am–10.45am (you will be able to come into church from 9.40am).  Friends from St Nicholas, Wickham and further afield are very welcome.

What else is available this week?

Since the end of March, Bishop Christopher has regularly hosted public worship from his home every Sunday morning.  I know that many of you have appreciated the opportunity to share in these online Eucharistic services, and will be relieved to hear that as parishes move into a new phase of worshipping life, the Bishop is still keen for there to be a diocese-wide digital worship service each Sunday.

Over the next few weeks, Sunday diocesan worship will be led by the Bishop, archdeacons, cathedral and various parish churches. This week’s Sunday diocesan Eucharist will be streamed from St George the Martyr, Waterlooville, led by Rev Dr Colin Lawlor, vicar of St George, with readings and prayers led by lay members. The service starts on Facebook (and on St George’s YouTube channel) at the later time of 10am. Find out more (and download the order of service) here.

In this Sunday’s Songs of Praise (BBC1, 1.15pm) Aled Jones visits the London Olympic Stadium to explore the links between Christianity and sport and looks back at the unforgettable moments of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games that took place in that stadium.

The Sunday’s Radio 3’s Choral Evensong, comes live from St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, with St Martin’s Voices.

In whatever way is appropriate for you, we hope that you will be able to join with us all as we worship together, at home and in church.

With love and the assurance of our constant prayers for you all,
from the benefice ministry team – Jane, Juliet, Ruth and Stephen

Painted lady caterpillars, chrysalides and butterflies

Love is like a Butterfly

Spiritual Communion

A service of Spiritual Communion for use during the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has made it necessary for the Church of England to suspend all public acts of worship. Using the national Church of England’s recommended liturgy as its guide, the ministry team has prepared this short act of Spiritual Communion for you to use at home.