Preben’s Statement – 17th March



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                                                                                                      Tuesday, March 17, 2020

This message is being sent to all pastoral visitors at Caldicot Methodist Church asking them to ensure that all the people on their pastoral lists are aware of its contents. It is also being sent to Reverend Joe Rooney, Reverend Lin Healey and to Roger Simms for church notices and for website and church Facebook updates, as well as to Marion Edwards for Rogiet Methodist Church and to Sandra Hanbury for Penycaemawr and for Earslwood Hope and Earlswood Valley. Please help me ensure we are all kept informed.

(Please note everything is subject to change at short notice)

Dear Friends,

Many of you will by now have seen the response from the Circuit Leadership Team to the Covid 19 pandemic with the recommendations contained. For those of you who have not, please consult with your pastoral visitors or me about general care and safeguarding, help with shopping etc where important measures are in place and many people willing to assist through the correct channels. I shall now concentrate on the service aspects of the next three Sundays. The situation will be continually monitored and updated so that hopefully we can all enjoy our full Easter Sunday services on April 12th.

These are worrying times for everybody where we really do have to keep praying for and considering what is the best route to take for us all, not least as Christian congregations. Where worship can still happen this means that all the best hygiene procedures must be in place, e.g. hand washing, sanitizing, and once in the church, personal distancing should be observed, i.e. we should not sit ‘on top of’ one another but spread ourselves out a bit. Also, it is essential to remember that if for all sorts of good reasons you decide not to attend church, then radio and TV do broadcast good religious programmes on a Sunday, and also for those with internet access, streamed services are available to listen to and join in with. Information about those are available from the Methodist Church website, or please feel free to contact me or any of the ministers.

Now, as far as ‘my’ churches are concerned, this is what we envisage for Sunday, March 22nd (Mothering Sunday), Sunday, March 29th and Sunday, April 5th which is as far as we dare go at the moment:

1) If agreed by my church stewards, I shall be at Caldicot on each of those Sundays at the usual service time of 10 a.m. for an hour of worship which is unlikely to be in the traditional style but include popular hymns and songs on power point, time for quiet and reflective prayer, Bible readings, a time to be, and yes, a time to talk to one another too. There will be no coffee or tea after the service. While God willing I shall be there on all three Sundays, of course I welcome my ministerial colleagues to assist me with or even take over the planning and execution of the services on March 29th and April 5th if they wish and I will always appreciate their company and support as I know we all do.

2) I ask Marion Edwards to help ensure an open church at Rogiet Methodist Church on the three Sundays involved and an act of worship as appropriate. Remember these are not times necessarily for the ‘hymn sandwich’ type service but to allow our congregations space, hope, love and togetherness in all its variety in a safe place and above all to pray for one another and our families and friends at this most difficult at times.

3) I ask Sandra Hanbury to liaise with the folk at Penycaemawr, Earslwood Hope and Earlswood Valley what can be done by way of open churches thanks to the generosity and love of the stewards there on each or some of the three Sundays. Again, ‘simply’ having a quiet place for an hour can make all the difference, and music on CD (and all the chapels have that facility) to sing along to can be inspiring indeed, with or without an accompanist.

Finally, I can confirm that sadly the Reverend Steve Wild has been advised against coming to take Caldicot’s 125th anniversary, both by our Circuit and indeed by his own Cornwall District. No one would want this great friend of ours to risk his own health at this precarious time, but Steve has said he would love to come at a later date when all this has blown over, however many months we may be looking at before that happens.

Let us hope and pray the Circuit Leadership will be able to reinstate the Plan in time for Easter Sunday services with Holy Communion on April 12th however doubtful this may seem at present. We may simply have to continue to meet as we hope to do over the next three Sundays in a more informal way? As far as I am concerned, the Holy Week evening arrangements this year at Caldicot will not now take place at any of the churches, nor the Good Friday open air service,  and I believe this is also the opinion of our Churches Together Secretary and Chairman.

My grateful thanks again to Gordon and the Circuit Leadership Team for their guidance at what has been and continues to be such a difficult time for us all.

Please can I ask you all not to hesitate to contact me at any time by any of the means above, landline, mobile or e-mail and I will always endeavour to respond promptly. Sadly my ministry at the moment is very much office-bound and having to rely on speaking to people on the telephone or contacts by other means. Having said that, there are still funerals to arrange and people to meet and I would treasure your prayers for those bereaved and indeed for those trying to care for them not least at this time of being asked to stay put. Life is not always as simple as that.

                                                                                                                          Every blessing