Coronavirus -(COVID-19) Ideas for Well Being

22nd March

 A Petrol Pumps hoax is circulating on social media.  Whilst the risk is no greater than touching other surfaces, it is still a good idea to wear gloves when filling up or use a paper towel which should be binned straight away.

Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.  Always wash your hands when you get home or into work

 The advice on do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean applies

As the Nation comes to terms with, and tries to  juggle the demands and vagaries of our situation as we head for a national lock down for several months. Schools, and leisure establishments have now closed, and fear redundancy and uncertain  debt grows. The ongoing fear of Covid-19 seems to be never ending as we try to deal with people’s heightened emotions.

I offer a  few resources that you might find helpful over the coming weeks to help with our Well Being at this time, which I commend to you.

Our Circuit Chaplain has posted a few Mindful Meditations that he has produced for the groups he supports in their work place: (please click on links to access)

Mindful Meditation

The news about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as a coronavirus, and the response to it, has left communities and families wondering what to do next and how to prepare. First, take a deep breath. When considering how COVID-19 might have an impact our children, families and family units, and children’s ministries, we need to address concerns of children in age appropriate ways, address anxiety and fears of parents and guardians.

Here you’ll find blogs and resources written and provided by The Methodist Church Children, Youth and Families team to help you engage with young people during this time.

I am hoping to launch a weekly “Tea & Cake at the Manse” an open virtual gathering for people to join me and share a conversation whilst enjoying a cuppa and cake in ones own home via Zoom. Watch this space for more details.

A number of churches across the circuit are producing weekly Church notice sheets or Pastoral Letters and sending them out either by post or by email. Please check with your own local church or minister about how to receive these.

Worship & Prayer

Check the Circuit Website (www.bsgc.org.uk), or check recent posts on the blog for worship & prayer ideas. Light a candle of hope at 7pm and join with other Christians across the country as we light up our windows to bring light in to this situation.

Light a candle of hope

A Christian around the world are encouraged to say the Lord’s prayer daily at 11am.

A daily prayer for us to share in together at 12.00

This 10 minute daily act of prayer is based on resources from The Methodist Prayer Handbook.  Check the Circuit Website for more details.

Circuit Worship Resources

Resources for families

(Click to download, or be taken to each one)

A very good flyer for children giving explanation the virus which has very good do not worry message.

The BRF Parenting For Faith Facebook page has some excellent videos and resources

A collection of good resources here

Talking to children & young people

Methodist Schools have forwarded a document produced by Wiltshire Council about looking after yourself with lots of helpful information for children: Looking After Yourself

In these strange times, we want to do what we can to support each other in creatively encouraging and equipping children, young people and families in our churches. The SW Gospel Partnership  youth and children’s team have set up a WhatsApp group as a means of sharing ideas, asking questions and supporting each other. If you’d like to be a part of the group, please send your mobile number to Simon on simon@headleyparkchurch.org.uk

Offering a Helping Hand

 

Many people are keen to offer support to our vulnerable neighbours who may be in self isolation or quarantined. Any activities need to continue to employ pragmatic Safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable people and to protect  volunteers who act in the name of the church or other organisations. The following guidelines should help to ensure good practice.

COVID19 – WORKING IN A SAFE MANNER – GUIDELINES FOR VOLUNTEERS

Safety First

Do not establish any activity or plan that will place volunteers and those in need at any additional risk:

– Check with your insurers that you are able to undertake the proposed activity.

– Do not relax safeguarding good practice and standards

– Do not be tempted to cut corners in order to get something done

It is more likely that anyone who wishes to take advantage of a vulnerable person could in fact slip more easily through the net (financial impropriety/ scamming – debit card pin numbers/ contactless payments, Keys to house). Equally it is likely that someone with the best of intentions might do ‘the wrong thing’ and inadvertently cause harm (Wanting to bake or cook meals for frail, ill or vulnerable people is kind but potentially high risk). Vulnerable people are thus even more vulnerable now and require our highest standards of care.

Church leadership teams should complete an activity risk assessment before embarking on any scheme or activity, detailing their thought processes covering the above considerations and any other identified areas of risk.

The following guidance should be followed:

• Be led by what the person you are hoping to support wants, not by what you might
think they need. Be clear as to whether you are in a position to meet what they want
or not. Also please be aware that you might not know who is vulnerable at this time,
so make any service you offer as widely known as you can.

• When appointing people to receive enquiries or to initiate contact by phone in order to offer support; this could include offering practical support/ receiving requests for support or prayer and pastoral support. Ensure that:

– Volunteers are safely recruited (this type of role is not eligible for a DBS check but where possible use existing volunteers who are known)  Is the volunteer known to the church, has a reference been taken – see safer recruitment guidelines.

– There is clear understanding of the purpose of the call/ contact.

– identifying yourself (working on behalf of the church)

– have a system of recording encounters and – that each volunteer has a person to report to for accountability purposes.

– Volunteers should not provide their personal information home addresses etc.

Delivering Food/ essential items:

• Avoid all physical contact with anyone who is on on their own.

• All deliveries will be left on the doorstep. If people open the door when you are delivering the food/goods, you must kindly ask them to close the door until you have moved a safe distance away from them. Volunteers need to visually check that supplies have been taken into the house.

• In an ideal world disposable gloves should be worn between one door and the next but this is hardly practical in the current situation. Therefore, every effort should be made not to use a bare hand to knock on a door or to ring the doorbell. It would be better to use your elbow or a suitable inanimate object e.g. umbrella handle.

• If you use disposable gloves, they should be disposed of safely after one use. Carry a plastic bag in which to deposit any used gloves.

• Remember, some people may not hear someone knocking on the door. Please persevere.

Call the coordinator if necessary. If your coordinator is not available, call another coordinator. Don’t leave without obtaining a reply.

Handling the money of vulnerable adults is considered to be a ‘Regulated Activity’

Volunteers doing so are required to have an Enhanced DBS check with check of the Barred List for the Adult workforce (Speak to your Safeguarding Officer  to discuss ways to implement pragmatic and timely DBS checks if more are needed).

– Records of visits/ service provision should be logged and reported to the activity leader. This provides transparency and accountability that protects the volunteer from accusations of theft or abuse, but also may be necessary to inform Public Health England of possible contact and transmission opportunities if a volunteer is subsequently diagnosed with the virus.

– Local practice needs to be established of how isolated people are going to pay for any shopping/ goods requested/ fetched by volunteers. We need to protect volunteers from being left out of pocket if payment is not forthcoming from the service user.

– Ensure volunteers handling money are recording what money they receive  from vulnerable people and what change (if cash is given) that they have returned. Receipts should be issued and copies kept by the volunteer and/or the scheme coordinator.

– Do not offer to take a vulnerable persons bank card it is obviously too risky as it presents a significant risk of theft or accusation of such.

– Cash presents an infection transmission route and isolated people may soon run out of cash to give out.

– Personal cheques present the risk of bouncing.

• Cash transactions should be made either by bank transfer or using ready cash, the preferred method being a bank transfer.

• If cash is used, plastic bank bags should be used to return any change. The change can be posted via the letterbox on delivery.

• Document the cash handling process clearly, ensure that receipts for purchased goods are provided. Report any dispute or disagreement about money/change of shop or goods immediately to your coordinator. In addition, volunteers should refuse any personal gift offered to them by anyone they shop for.

• If you are asked to undertake any additional tasks, please contact your coordinator before agreeing.

Illness

• Volunteers should contact their coordinator immediately if they feel unwell and plan to self isolate because they are showing Covid 19 symptoms, or if they have to self isolate for any other reason, e.g. because a family member is ill.

Personal Protective Equipment

• Disposable gloves, if available

• Hand `Sanitiser’ or wet wipes, if available.

For Coordinators

• Make sure you have mobile phone numbers for volunteers

Oh…and I came across this. This week the Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers Concert was cancelled due to Covid19 – but they didn’t let that stop them… Choir

 

 

Coronavirus -(COVID-19) or other infections guidance for churches

Please keep an eye on this blog and the B&SG Circuit Website and Connexional Website for more information, including ideas for prayer, and worship for those unable to attend worship or have to self isolate. (New posts highlighted in Blue)

Guidance Updates 29th March 2020 – please click on links to download guidance sheets.

The following Guidance sheets superseded previous guidance issued. 

Occasional Offices Guidelines:   Occasional Offices 26th March 2020

As the death toll mounts, Minsters will be taking a greater number of funerals in difficult emotional circumstances. The sheer devastation we face having to explain to recently bereaved people that we can not offer them our usual warmth, our safe and tranquil space to plan something together that would have been exactly what their friend or relative would have loved, and that numbers will be limited to close family will require us to show empathy and care for the funeral service we can offer. Please contact families who have pre-booked Baptisms and Weddings offering to rearrange and pastoral support as their carefully arrange plans are halted.

Key Contact Sheet: Key contact details update 28th March 2020

A downloadable sheet  with useful key contact details at this time

Unoccupied church guidelines:    Property update 28th March 2020

A simple sheet offering good practice to ensure the security and safety of our church buildings.

Safeguarding Guidelines:   Safeguarding 29th March 2020

In the midst of the global Coronavirus crisis, we have a unique opportunity to be Gospel people: to act lovingly, speak graciously, and live humbly for the common good of all people. In addition to taking the necessary precautions to limit virus transmission, which protects the most vulnerable people in society but we also have a duty to keep people safe and follow good practice.

Good Visiting Guidelines: Guidelines for Pastoral Visitors 26th March 2020

Guidance for ministers, lay workers and pastoral visitor coordinators to ensure good practice.

Q & A to Previous guidance:    Q&A 29th March 2020

Update sheet to previous guidance given. Please note things continue to change daily.

Introduction.

The global spread of Coronavirus has been unprecedented, and governments are struggling to both contain and deal with the consequences. Whilst our government is rightly focusing upon protecting its citizens, ensuring that good hygiene practice and protecting some of the most vulnerable groups that are at risk. As Christians finding ourselves caught up in such a global pandemic is also challenging and is going to reveal the essential nature of our discipleship. Our Christian identity is reflected in how we do life together and how we serve our co

mmunities at such times. I believe that each our churches have a vital part to play in being a Beacon of Hope at this moment within their community. Our neighbours and communities need love, hope, peace and an eternal perspective and we can offer this in abundance, in the name of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:18). I am aware that the situation changes daily, and Coronavirus will be with us for some time, so in some respect we will as a global village have to learn to live with it as we have with other such Pandemics. The following documents are offered for both information, practical steps that churches should take, and some thoughts about our Christian response as the threat is creating a climate of fear and panic, as we seek to be good and responsible neighbours and serve our communities bring light and hope of God’s love at this time. As we journey through the darkness of Lent towards the Light of the Resurrection, I am reminded that we are “Easter People and Alleluia is our song”

March 21st

Updated  PHE & Government guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health professionals and other organisations. Click Here

March 16th 

Following the Governments announcement tonight about a semi-lock down and avoiding meeting in pub and clubs, theatres etc and non-essential travel. I am waiting to hear how this will affect Sunday Worship. However church meetings should cease, this includes the Circuit Meeting. Although I am looking at alternative ways of dealing with the agenda items.

I am working with the City Council regarding how best to support the most vulnerable in our city – those who are homeless, through the Methodist Centre, whilst keeping the staff safe. I include in the resources below two sheets about Foodbanks. It was clear today that the food the centre receives via the supermarkets is reduced due to panic buying. This will have a big impact on what we can offer, foodbank supplies are also running low in the city as they are supporting housebound folk. Please continue to check both the Methodist Church National Website and BSG Circuit website for further information.

Please click on links to download information :

Church Action Plan guidance:  Coronavirus BSG Action Plan – 14-3-20

Church Action Plan template: Coronavirus risk assessment Form Template

Coronavirus Guidelines:            Guidelines-for-coronavirus Part2 -6th-march-2020

If you are supporting residential homes or community care settings. MHA has supplied this useful signpost… 15-3-20      

             https://www.mha.org.uk/news/latest- news/news_archive/coronavirus-covid-19/ .

Foodbanks Local:                            foodbanks-and-covid-19

Foodbanks Global:                          GFN – COVID-19 Resource Guide for Food Banking Organizations – 3.4.20 – FINAL

Coronavirus Q&A:                        Coronavirus Q&A

Christian Response:                    Christian Response towards Coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidelines:            Guidelines for Coronavirus Part 1- February 2020

Hand washing Poster:                 wash-your-hands-poster-english-508

Safeguarding:    In this time of encouraging people to be kind to one another, we also need to be extra vigilant to care for the vulnerable.  Please see the advice of the Safeguarding Team

Coronavirus Worship Resources

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

But,
they say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
you can hear the birds again.
they say that after just a few weeks of quiet
the sky is no longer thick with fumes
but blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi
people are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers
with her number through the neighbourhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing, Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

– Fr. Richard Hendrick

 

Day of Prayer.JPG

Presidents of Churches Together in England have issued a call to prayer in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is for all churches and people of prayer to join on Sunday 22nd March, Mothering Sunday. 

They write….

This Mothering Sunday, 22nd March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.

At 7pm this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.

Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation. We would pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the COVID-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.

There are already stories being told of wonderful acts of kindness across neighbourhoods. Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour. We may not be able to touch physically, but we can make connections in so many other ways.

In the meantime, do please attend to all the government health advice that will be issued, and look out for resources from your specific church governing bodies. At least for those of us in the global North, we do seem to be in unusual times, and wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.

We note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss. In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope*.

“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
 
Presidents of Churches Together in England

Introduction:

Finding ourselves caught up in a global pandemic is challenging and is going to reveal the essential nature of our discipleship.  

Like the early disciples our call is to follow Jesus in the midst of everything that life throws at us (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). As we do, we know that Christ is with us, God’s Holy Spirit is empowering us and that we have the precious gift of prayer.  Despite severe suffering Paul encourages the Thessalonian believers to be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:16) and we need to hear this as God’s word for us today.  

Each one of our churches has a vital part to play in being a Beacon of Hope at the moment.  Our neighbours and communities need love, hope, peace and an eternal perspective and we can offer this in abundance, in the name of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Not only should all Christians pray , but I am aware that over the coming weeks some of our churches will close their doors in order to protect those who are at risk, whilst they ride out the pandemic. However it may be several weeks before the doors are reopened. I hope that the  words and ideas posted on this page will enable the Holy Spirit to use our prayers and sustain us all at this time.

Please click on the (green) link to open files:

Please check the new Circuit Website

for Worship & Prayer Resources.

Click HERE

Personal Prayers & Reflections

Praying for our world – 14th March:     Prayers for our world – 14th March 2020

Methodist Daily Bible reflections:        Word in Time

Methodist Daily Prayer:                          Daily Prayer

Methodist online prayer wall:               Light a candle

Praying for our community:                 Prayer  – Coronavirus

Praying for our country:                        Prayer for our country

Handwashing Prayer:                            Handwashing-Lords-Prayer

Reflections for each day of the week, written by Rev David Willis: Corin 13 (CORONAVIRUS) Wk1

 

Resources for those unable to attend Church on Sundays

Sunday Worship live from Yate MC – BSGC

Sunday Worship live from Wesley Chapel London

Sunday Worship live from Altrincham MC

Sunday Worship live from Aylesbury MC

Sunday Worship live from Godalming United Church

Swan Bank MC

Westminster Central Hall

BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship 

Simple-Acts-of-Worship

Praying in a pandemic; a resource for prayer for those who are unable to meet together

 

Downloadable Sunday Worship Sheets: 

These short acts of worship have been produced for you if you are unable to attend church.  If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you?

Sunday Worship – 15 March 2020

Sunday Worship – 22 March 2020

Service for home worship – written by Biddy Crossfield

 

Sunday Worship Resources for Children

When the world feels crazy, it’s even more important to remind children that true hope and peace come from Jesus. Sermons4kids are offering free downloadable  lectionary based activities for parents and others who might not be able to attend Sunday worship. Although it comes out of the USA, the activities include video’s, work and colouring sheets. Parents may need to correct the spelling to UK English.

Sermon4Kids Downloads

During the CoronaVirus pandemic  Family Friendly Churches will offer free of charge worship resources for folk to worship at home. Please do not use these for corporate worship.   Family Friendly Churches

 

100 Days – Remembering the end of the 1st World War

To mark the Centenary of the end of the 1st World War  I visited the 1st World War battlefields of Ypres, Somme and Passchendale.

In part it was also a fa100-days-peacemily pilgrimage to visit the grave of my Great Uncle Arthur Huckstep who was killed in action at the age of 17 and the memorial to my Great Uncle William (aged 22) in Tyne Cot cemetery. As far as I am aware I am the first member of the family to visit these graves in 102 years.

 

 

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Arthur Huckstep

Calvaire Cemetery

 

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William Huckstep

Memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

To mark the 100th Anniversary please use the resources below, and check out earlier posting on the blog for “Remembrance”

On 4 August 1918 King George V called a National Day of PrayerOne hundred days later the war ended. Remembrance 100 launches on 4 August 2018 with 100 Days of Peace and Hope –prayers, Bible readings, reflections and peace-making activities

To download 100 years, Prayer booklet click: HERE

100 DAYS is a literary project inspired by the incredible personal stories and experiences of those who lived through the First World War.

Supported by one hundred centenary partnership members, including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life and Kent Libraries and Archives, IWM will share one story a day for one hundred days from 5 August until Armistice to coincide with the anniversary of the One Hundred Days Offensive.

One hundred volunteer writers have each created a one hundred word piece (a centena) inspired by and based on the life of a real individual who experienced the First World War as part of 100 DAYS. From Mahatma Ghandi and Elsie Inglis, founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, to Karl Kraus, a Jewish satirist and Jeanne De-Neve, a Belgian refugee needle worker, the diverse stories of these individuals reflect experiences of this conflict from all over the world.

The broad range of volunteer writers have been brought together by 26 Characters Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation representing people who share a love of words. Writers include a bestselling author, a screenwriter, a communications consultant and several journalists, as well as performance poets, creative writers and copywriters.

One centena a day will be shared here from today and until 12 November, covering the period of the centenary of the start of the One Hundred Days Offensive and leading up to the centenary of Armistice Day.

Discover more about the centenas, the writers and the lives they were inspired by here.

The Church of England have produced several resources for services:

To Download an outline for a memorial service click: HERE

To Download an oder to remember the battle of the Somme click: Here

 

A Prayer of Remembrance

Almighty and eternal God,
from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted,
either by death or life:
hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all who we remember this day
fulfil in them the purpose of your love;
and bring us all with them, to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Check out these video clips from Christian Vision for Men Click:  HERE

 

DSCN5719

German Front Line 19 – 20th July 1916 – photo taken 23rd July 2018 -La Bataille de Fromelles

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New Year

As we prepare for a New Year, I found this helpful and reflective prayer from John Vest & Christian Aid.

Prayer for the New Year

God of wisdom and truth,
at the beginning of this new year
we look back and we look forward.
In the year that has passed
we experienced joy and we experienced sorrow;
we felt blessed and we felt challenged.
Some things went by much too fast,
and some things lingered for far too long.
Here in this place
we are reminded that you are present through it all.
We are reminded that we are never alone.
We are reminded that nothing can separate us from your love.
So at the beginning of this new year,
we pause now in silence
to reflect on the year that has passed.
We remember the things from this past year that we are most thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the happiest.
We consider the times we felt most alive.
We recognize the times we gave and received the most love.
(silence)
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times.
We also remember the things from this past year that we are least thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the least happy.
We consider the times we felt life draining from us.
We recognize the times we gave and received the least love.
(silence)
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times too.
Gracious God,
at the beginning of this new year,
we also look forward to the year to come.
We are confident that you will be with us still,
when we are thankful and when we are not;
when we are happy and when we are sad;
when we feel alive and when we feel drained;
when we give and receive love and when we do not.
God, the world we live in is messy and challenging,
it is the world of King Herod,
a world of pain,
a world of doubt,
a world of fear,
a world of jealousy,
a world of violence,
a world of domination,
a world of injustice,
a world of human failings.
Yet, God, you are with us always.
So give us grace and give us courage
to live faithfully in this imperfect world.
Remind us always of the promise of your kingdom,
emerging around us and through us.
It is for this kingdom that we now pray,
using the words Jesus taught us.
Our Father…
~ written by John W. Vest and posted on John Vest. http://johnvest.com/
Here’s are gathering words for a New Year service,  posted on the Christian Aid website.

 At the Dawn of a New Year

At the dawn of a new year, 
we come to welcome hope for a new world.
Let the darkness lift, 
to welcome a dawn of plenty, 
with enough for everyone 
and people ready to share.
Let the day begin, 
with new energy for the struggle 
to protect our children 
and to care for the vulnerable.
Let the light shine, 
to open a path to safety 
for all who are seeking home 
and longing for life.
Let the sun rise 
on new talks and new resolve 
to end the bombing and the terror 
and to find solutions that will last.
At the dawn of a new year 
we come to declare our hope 
and to welcome a new world. 
 
~ written by Susan Durber, and posted on the Monthly Prayers page of theChristian Aid website. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/

Remembrance

The end of October and the month of November is in the church calender a time of remembrance, starting with All- Haalows Eve on 31st October and All Saints Day on 1st Nomember. A time when we remember those amongst us have moved from the Earthly Kingdom to the Heavenly Kingdom of saints in glory.

As we move through November to Advent, we remember those killed in conflict and war, both past and present, and those who often face daily conflict, abuse in their daily lives today.

Remembrance Sunday prayers

A variety of prayers for use on Remembrance Sunday

An all-age prayer for Remembrance Sunday

Lord, we are saddened at the thought of war,
of the soldiers who must fight
and all those people who are killed.
Today we remember their sacrifice with great sadness.
We thank them for what they did for us.

We also remember that they won for us a victory,
that without their bravery these wars may have been lost,
and our lives could have been so very different,
without the freedom we so much enjoy.
We thank them for what they did for us.

We are saddened at the thought of your suffering,
that you, too, had to be a great hero,
and walk to Jerusalem, be arrested, tried
and killed on that horrible cross.
We thank you for what you did for us.

We also remember that you won for us a victory,
that on Easter morning you rose again,
and helped us to overcome our human nature,
so that we might rise again with you.
We thank you for what you did for us.
Amen.

 

A prayer for Remembrance Sunday to use with young people

God, it’s difficult to see the point of wearing a poppy,
or what difference two minutes’ silence will make
when we could be shouting protests.
But we can recognise a broken life being valued,
a gift being given,
and taking two minutes to reflect on how much we have.
We look to the future, not to the past.
We cannot change what has been
but do not need to repeat its mistakes.
So as old and young come together before you,
take the very best of our lives;
bind us into one people of faith
and help us to share our common values,
love of Jesus and care for each other;
to build dreams,
and, with your Holy Spirit,
turn them into reality.
Amen.

A prayer of petition for those affected by war

God of justice and peace,
we pray for those who have been injured
or disabled through war.
For those who have lost homes
and security through conflict;
for those who have lost loved relatives in wars;
for those who face danger and take risks for peace;
for all those, especially children, caught up in current conflicts;
for refugees and all those in need of aid and other help.
God of encouragement
and Saviour of the despairing,
comfort those who remember past sacrifices
and guide us in building
a just and peaceful community for all.
Amen.

A prayer for peacemakers

History can inspire or trap.
Walls can protect or divide.
Words can encourage or inflame.
Power can free or destroy.
Touch can comfort or violate.
Peace can be shared or withheld.
Gracious God, on this day,
when we remember past and present conflicts,
we pray for the divided peoples of the world,
that leaders, governments and each one of us
may use our resources,
our opportunities and our lives
in the service of reconciliation,
for the sake of future generations
and to the glory of your name.
Amen.

A prayer for reconciliation

As one family, we reflect today on the horrors of the past that continue
to haunt humanity and darken our world.
Lord, where pain still overwhelms, bring healing.
Where hearts are still breaking, bring comfort.
Where peoples are still oppressed, bring liberation.
Where communities are still victimised, bring justice.
Where children are still brutalised, bring compassion.
Where lives are still crushed, bring hope.
Where evil is perpetrated, bring repentance.
Where war still devastates, bring peace.
But most of all,
wherever a single voice cries out in the darkness,
bring us to one another,
in the name of the love you bear in your heart for all people,
all nations and all creation.
Amen.

 

Prayer in a time of hopelessness

We entrust to you, eternal God,
those times when we can see only shadows
and lose sight of the hope to come;
the times when suffering seems so senseless,
life so fragile, war so unstoppable and death so permanent.
Bless us with the assurance that you are in all things,
the tragic and the beautiful,
the nightmare and the dream,
the light and the darkness.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ
the peace of the world, today, tomorrow and forever.
Amen.

Transgender Remembrance

Singing the Faith Plus editor, Laurence Wareing, introduces Transgender Remembrance Day (20 November, 2017) and resources to help mark it.

Check out the Singing the Faith website: http://www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk/?p=14251

Hate crime is growing in Britain. The official statistics for 2016/17 (England and Wales) record a 29 per cent increase on the previous year across all categories of hate crime. In large part, the rise is attributed to a growing willingness to report such crimes. But not all. Events such as the European Referendum and terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Manchester are cited as presenting contributing factors.

Race hate crimes are by far the largest category (78 percent). However, the highest percentage increases were in Disability hate crimes (53 per cent) and Transgender hate crimes (a 45 per cent increase, from 858 to 1,234).

To say that Transgender hate crime constitutes “only” two per cent of the overall total misses the point. The numbers are shocking both in themselves and as also as one indicator of a society’s overall health.

Six years ago, on the Sunday nearest to 20 November, I attended a worship service in which we remembered those who had been killed during the previous year as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. I was shocked and moved by what I heard. Name after name was read out – individuals from all over the world, many of them from south American countries – and we listened in deepening silence.

We know that so often it is minority groups in society that bear the greater weight of prejudice and our intolerance towards those “not like us”. I had not understood the degree of hatred experienced by many transgender communities worldwide. And once again I was made to reflect hard on my Christian commitment to equality and diversity, inspired by the grace-filled life and teachings of Jesus.

Rita Hester, whose murder inspired the first Transgender Remembrance Day of Remembrance is held in November, whose murder on 28 November 1998 inspired a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in 1999. Each year since, a list of those killed during the previous 12 months is compiled and their lives recalled on this day.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance is self-identified as transgender (as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant), each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

Resources for transgender Remembrance

Though there are a number of websites that provide helpful information around Transgender Remembrance, it is not easy to find resources for use in worship.

Last year (2016):

The 2013 publication Bold I Approach, produced by the Methodist LGBT organisation Outcome, includes a prayer for use on Transgender Remembrance Day by Jan Goddard. The volume includes other resources appropriate for the occasion.

On the Singing the Faith Plus website, we have published a hymn, We come today to celebrate, by the Revd Stephanie Jenner, written for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Eucharist at the 2013 Greenbelt Festival. Though Transgender Remembrance is often a quiet and reflective occasion, Stephanie’s words – sung to the tune “Amazing Grace” – may lend to the occasion a helpful note of Christian hopefulness. Also published here is Gary Hopkins’ When our views are varied.

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance website offers an introduction to the day and maintains an up to date list of those who will be remembered each year. It also lists where remembrance events will take place including in the UK (usually upated near the time). See also the Metropolitan Community Churches website, which includes other helpful links and a simple running order for an act of remembrance.

Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula

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Wall of Ribbons remembering family who are stranded in North Korea

The World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) are calling their member churches to observe, on 13 August, a “Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”

Each year, Christians are invited to join in a prayer for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Prepared by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), the prayer is traditionally used on the Sunday before 15 August every year.

The 15th of August, celebrated as Liberation Day in both North and South Korea, marks the date in 1945 when Korea won independence from Japanese colonial oppression, yet ironically it also was the day when the peninsula was divided into two countries.

The theme for this year’s prayer is based on Romans 14:19: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

Churches are encouraged to translate this prayer into their national languages and share it with their congregations.

 North South/South North Joint Prayer for Peaceful Reunification

Mortal, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the Israelites associated with it”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with it”; and join them together into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. (Ezekiel 37: 16-17, NRSV)

God of grace!

Once again, we greet the month of August, the month of Independence where North and South still celebrate separately and remember it differently. It has been a long, harsh period, one with cruel struggles between the two countries. No longer are we oppressed by Japanese forces, but our people are still filled with contempt for each other and our country is still challenged by neighboring forces. Lord, pity us.

God who rules history,

For the last 72 years, we dreamed of being one, but we lived like foes, not living up to our dreams. We lived separated from our family and torn apart by different ideology and systems. Lord, bring the history of our people together with your holy hands. Let us hope for unification with passionate hearts and work together so fervently that we shed the sweat of hope. For every August we encounter, help us sincerely repent with our hearts, and fill us with a strong will for unification.

God who leads peace,

Lord, we speak of one people, one sisterhood/brotherhood while filled with hatred against each other. We have violated the spirit of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, the June 15 Joint Declaration, and the October 4 Joint Declaration and also firmly locked the doors of the Keumkang Mt. and Gaeseong Industrial Complex. Thus, we were left with a greater danger and greater threat. Lord, listen to our desperate cries that thirst for peace.

God who gives hope,

Lord, help us to dream once more of a beautiful land where no joint-military exercise is needed. Let us welcome a new world where we are not interfered with or challenged by neighboring strong powers. Let us once again begin with the same overwhelming determination we had as of August 15, 1945. Please quickly open the doors of intercommunication and let us walk hand in hand for joint prosperity. Lord, let the North and South greet each other without prejudice. Help us newly begin a history of reconciliation and embracement on this land.

God of grace!

Bestow your grace upon the whole of Korea. Shine down pure rays of peace from Baekdu to Halla, and wet the entire land with showers of joy. Give happiness to the 80 million fellow Koreans throughout this land and this world, and guide them to be leaders of their own lives. Bring our strengthened community to be servants of the world.

God of Peace, we pray in Jesus name.

August 15, 2017

National Council of Churches in Korea           Korean Christian Federation

A Call to Prayer for a Just Peace

Amid tensions between North Korea, and the USA during the past few weeks and joining with the World Council of Churches, the general secretary of the United Methodist Church issues a call to prayer for peace.


On this day, 72 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki – just three days after dropping one on the city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that over 150,000 people were killed over those three days.

Fast forward to present day, the last few months have been met with anxiety and tension around threats of nuclear weapons and warfare. Leaders in North Korea continue to isolate their country as they threaten Creation with nuclear missiles. Leaders in the United States agitate and provoke with threats of destruction. It is during times like these when we must join together in a call for the exhaustion of all diplomatic efforts before turning to military action.

The United Methodist Church believes war to be “incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ.” The Church “insists that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them” 

The United Methodist Church also “supports the abolition of nuclear weapons…We call all nations that possess nuclear weapons to renounce these vile instruments of mass destruction and to move expeditiously to dismantle all nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles” 

In the Council of Bishops’ 1985 foundation document “In Defense of Creation: the Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace,” the bishops assert that one of the “most important purposes of Christian peacemaking is the exercise of their God-given power in the political arena.” They affirm two essential means of fulfilling this purpose:

  1. personal involvement of United Methodist leaders, lay and clergy, at every level in nurturing political action as an imperative of shalom, and
  2. direct and regular personal engagement of our church members with policy makers in foreign and defense policy.

The bishops also make clear that peacemaking is “ultimately a spiritual issue,” and “without conversion of minds and hearts, the political systems of this world will remain estranged from shalom.”

Because of this need for spiritual and political peace, the World Council of Churches has designated this Sunday, August 13th 2017, as the Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) have prepared a prayer for churches to use on Sunday.

So I call upon all United Methodists to join in prayer this Sunday: for peace on the Korean Peninsula, for peace in the hearts of our leaders, and for peace among all peoples.

May we continue to faithfully follow the Prince of Peace, and find comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul:

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)

The joint prayer was prepared by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from North Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) from South Korea.

 

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looking across the DMZ to North Korea –  October 2016

The World Council of Churches (WCC), World Communion of Reformed Churches and now the WEA are inviting parishes and individuals across the world to pray for the reconciliation and healing of the divided Korean Peninsula.

Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary general of the WEA, comments: “Dialogue and understanding is the right and moral way forward as we uphold the dignity and great value of every people who bear the image of the God of Peace.” He added  “On this Sunday of prayer, we bring before the Lord our plea for a peaceful resolution and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. May God change hearts, may He change minds, and may He bring about unity in this land to the glory of His name.”

The day of prayer is arriving during a time when the WCC and many other organizations are urging dialogue and engagement, not threats and sanctions, as military tension on the Korean Peninsula escalates.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed concern over whether sanctions demonstrate any positive impact in bringing a return to negotiations or preventing its development of nuclear weapons.

“It is not at all clear how the new sanctions can be expected to make any more positive contribution to this extremely delicate and dangerous situation,” Tveit said.

“We call for a sea-change in the international community’s approach to North Korea, in favour of dialogue and engagement rather than military and political confrontation.”

“Increasing participation in the day of prayer indicates that many people, from many nations, are choosing to walk together on a path of peace and hope for the Korean Peninsula and the world,” said Tveit.

“The WCC represents 560 million people, the WCRC represents 80 million and the WEA 600 million more from around the world,” he said. “Clearly the pilgrimage of justice peace is a growing, thriving movement, and we would like to invite even more to join us.”

World Communion of Reformed Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson concluded “We believe churches across the world can, through prayer, help foster an environment in which peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula can flourish.”

The day of prayer occurs two days before Liberation Day in Korea (15 August), during which people celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonization.

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