Rector’s Letter – 4th August 2020

Dear friends,

This week Peter Holmes sent me a photo showing the progress made by the ‘Seeds of Hope’ I dropped off at his home on Mothering Sunday just as Lockdown began. ‘They have obviously waited until there is some hope of the church re-opening’, was Peter’s observation. ‘It’s quite incredible to see how they have developed over the months; at one stage we had almost given up hope that they would flower, but they were true to their calling.’

I had forgotten until I saw this photo that I had bought the seeds of two different types of marigolds, one obviously more vigorous than the other. The image made me think of the way my two sons have been during these last few months of enforced solitude. One has flourished, quite happy to be working from home and going on long walks with his dog while the other has struggled, missing office life and meeting with friends. I have noticed amongst my own friends also that some are coping better than others and that it’s often down to personality rather than circumstances.

We are a mixed lot at St Mary’s so it’s no surprise that our response to the relaxation of lockdown and the resumption of church services is very varied. Some of you can’t wait to get back into the building whilst others are adopting a more cautious approach. My hope is that we will be able to continue to provide support and opportunities for prayer and worship for everybody and that you will all continue to feel very much part of the church family. The plan for reopening the church at the end of this month which I hope to send to Bishop Ian in the next few days, proposes two very different short Sunday Services of the Word with communion being celebrated on your behalf early in the morning. The morning service at 10.30 will be very similar to the first half of the Eucharist with readings, sermon and intercessory prayers and familiar hymn tunes played on the organ or by the band for us to listen to. The night service at 8 p.m. will provide a quiet space for individual prayer and worship using ancient liturgy as a framework for short readings, prayers and reflections and recordings of sacred music. There is also the possibility of a more informal monthly service in the church hall growing out of the Gatherings for Prayer which are happening on line. For those of you not intending to return at this time, the ‘Materials for Worship’ will continue to be sent out or delivered every week but in addition, we may be able to livestream the morning service so that some of you can join in with worship from your homes. I am grateful to those who are investigating this and to those who are helping me to put together the very detailed plans so that we can safely hold services once more.

Please continue to pray for each other and for our community. This week, I ask you to pray especially for the youngest members of our church family who are preparing to return to school along with all their classmates and their families. Please remember also those in our midst who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.

The people of Beirut also need out prayers. If you are looking for a way to help them, The Guardian online and The Independent online have launched a fund which will benefit local support organisations like the Lebanese Red Cross which runs ambulances and emergency medical teams and Beit el Baraka who run a free supermarket help people with medical costs and apartment rents, and are now also working on repairing damaged homes. You can donate via the papers’ websites :

With love,