Monthly News from our Churchwardens
The good news this month is that we are back to church again, not quite back to normal as we still have to follow safe distancing rules and we are still not singing but we did introduce music into the services both at St Mary’s and the Good Shepherd for Easter and it was good to hear the organ has survived 3 months of non use in the damp winter months at St Mary’s.
We opened at the Good Shepherd in Holy Week , beginning with a time of reflection led by members of the congregation on the first three mornings and then with the Service of Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and the Liturgy of Good Friday. The Easter Day service at St Mary’s was well attended and the church almost full to its restricted capacity. Fr Derek celebrated and blessed the Easter Candle and the Easter Garden and made it a special occasion. It was quite a change from 2020 when all Easter Services were cancelled due to Lockdown. The churches both look colourful with all the spring flowers in the windows. The churchyard did not disappoint, with celandines open to the sunshine, with their deep yellow hue, joining the primroses and daffodils to give a glorious display. The garden at the entrance to the Good Shepherd has seen the lovely miniature daffodils come and go, but now the polyanthus have brought a variety of colours, thanks to Beryl and George. Thank you Beryl for spending an afternoon on your knees weeding and tidying the daffodil leaves to make it look especially nice for Easter.
We have now started weekly Friday morning services again at the Good Shepherd at 9.30am, thanks to our retired priests, without whom we would not be able to open for all the services each week and to whom we are eternally grateful.
Par Churches Together held the Watch by the Cross on the grass verge by St Mary’s Car Park on Good Friday, but because of the rule of six, only six people participated and a much smaller cross was used, due to not being able to share holding the usual more life sized cross. Fr Michael from St Augustine’s led us in prayer before the watch. There was a good representation of faiths with 2 Catholics, 2 Church of England and 2 Methodists. Lots of people waved and put their thumbs up to us as they went past and one car driver actually stopped, holding up a stream of cars behind him, many of whom were probably not amused but it was good to know that many people did recognise the importance of the day among the continual buzz of traffic.
It was sad to hear of the death of Prince Philip, and although knowing that he had been in poor health and that he was soon to celebrate his 100th birthday, the news was still something of a shock when it came. The Queen is regularly prayed for in our churches and we continue now to remember her and her family at this particularly poignant time in their lives. The funeral service was a memorable occasion, with beautiful thoughtful music and readings reflecting the Prince’s life and faith and although the pageantry of the occasion was all toned down because of COVID restrictions, it was carried out respectfully and fitting to the man the Prince was, a man of true faith, who was not afraid to question, but remained faithful to this country and to his Lord, to the end. Being part of the funeral, that the Prince had so thoughtfully prepared, and seeing it carried out with such dignity by all those involved, after having had only a week to obtain the standards and precision we in this country can provide, I felt proud to be British.
The Annual Parochial Church Meeting was held after the service on the 18th April according to Government restrictions. It began with the Vestry Meeting where the Churchwardens were elected. Reports from the year 2020 were given, including the Financial Report and what had happened during the year, the reports being much shorter than in previous years due to the closure of the churches and events put on hold. The PCC members and other Officers were elected and Church members were thanked for all they have done during the year to keep the parish both alive, together and solvent. Thanks were also expressed to the retired clergy who regularly celebrate our services. We now look forward to the process of appointing a new priest.
The month of May will see a further relaxation of the COVID rules and many people have had at least one of their vaccinations, so we pray as we go into the summer months that we will indeed be able to go back to normal in the next step in June if everyone is sensible. Take care everyone, keep safe.