Guidance for Re-opening Churches

IntroductionSee the source image

From the 4th July, places of worship can start to reopen for private prayer and public worship so long as they follow strict rules. You will find on this page summaries of the government guidance, risk assessments, and helpful information sheets regarding what is possible.

Please note update will be posted in Blue.

It is important to note that these are summary guidance for the Bristol & South Gloucestershire Circuit, in order to maintain consistency across our churches. I recognise that other denominations may interpret the regulations slightly differently  and LEP’s are advised to adopt one set of policies and try not to chop and change, and that each church setting is different.

It is important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and small steps are the best way forward, and that government guidance keeps changing.

FACE COVERINGS/PA Systems –  24th July

1. Q. Should I wear a face covering in a church building?
A. Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and will be mandatory in shops and in supermarkets from 24 July 2020. Government guidelines are encouraging people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet, such as a place of worship.

“From 8th August face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors (User Groups), where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.”

Face coverings should only be removed to receive Holy Communion.

2. Q. What is a face covering?
A. A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.
These are different from surgical and other face masks that are part of PPE used in health and social care settings, such as visors. We do not recommend the use of PPE in church buildings other than for specialist cleaning activities.

3. Q. Why should we wear face coverings?
A. Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

4. Q. Should we use microphones/PA systems?
A. Yes, if you have one then you should make use of it. Those speaking as part of a sermon should be wearing masks, so using a microphone will help people to hear and understand them, especially those using hearing aids. It is possible that visors can be used by those leading worship but a face covering should be  Ideally individual lapel microphones or static (fixed) microphones should be used rather than hand-held, and those using them should not touch the microphone to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus, especially if it is a fixed microphone – for example on a lectern – that will be used by multiple people through a service. Lapel microphones should only be touched by the person using them and should be cleaned (for example with alcohol wipes) or left-untouched for 72 hours between uses.

Full Guidelines Click: HERE

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Poster Click: acs_facemask_poster_orange

Exemption Poster Click: Face Covering Exemption Poster

Guidelines for Outside Worship Click: HERE

Re-opening churches summary of guidelines: Click: HERE

Preparing to re-open your church – issued 16th June: Click: HERE

Guidance Pack for re-opening of church buildings – including Risk Assessment to ensure buildings are Covid-19 secure: Click: HERE

H&S and other Posters to be displayed Click: HERE

GDPR – Test & Trace Information Click: HERE

GDPR – information poster/sign in sheet Click: HERE

GDPR Test and Trace sign-in sheet for user groups Click: HERE

Poster for Private Prayer Click : HERE

Poster for Sunday Worship Click: HERE

Guidelines for those leading live worship Click: HERE

Q&A – issued 2nd July Click: HERE

Cleaning guidelines Click: HERE

Guidelines for celebrating Holy Communion in church ClickHERE                                         Ideas & reflections on Celebrating  Holy Communion from F&O Committee (10/7) Click: HERE

Guidelines for Funerals Click: HERE

Guidelines for Weddings Click: HERE

Guidance Pack for paid staff and volunteers returning to church (including Risk Assessments and other H&S, HR information  Click:  HERE

H&S for Employees Poster Click: HERE

Further guidance will be issued as available.

Please check “recent posts” for other covid-19 guidance

 

 

Worship Resources (Covid-19)

New – post 10th July

Holy Communion report by Faith & Worship Committee with ideas how to celebrate Holy Communion during Covid-19  CLICK: HERE

 

For details of acts of worship being produced by the Methodist Church and acts of streamed worship, click HERE

For details of daily prayer and other acts of worship from Bristol Cathedral, click HERE

Church & Presbyter live-streaming in the Circuit:

Victoria church – via Youtube  https://www.vic-methodist-bristol.org.uk/online-prayer-and-worship-resources/  – are producing a series of hymns and other reflections.

Leigh Maydew – via Yate Facebook page (10.30 – Sunday) https://www.facebook.com/YateMethodistChurch/?rf=776554552356804  withcoffee and chat at 11.15 via zoom

Patrick Stonehewer – weekly reflections posted on Youtube website:  http://www.horfieldmethodist.org.uk

Sally Spencer – Sunday worship via Youtube link on website: https://www.southbristolmc.org.uk

Simon Edwards – Sunday via Youtube  link on website: https.//youtu.be/alk6XC_ik-0 or https://www.facebook.com/ThornburyMethodist

Emma Langley – Sunday worship via Youtube link via website: http://westburyparkchurch.org.uk/

David Willis – Sunday worship 2pm via Zoom see link: http://www.uomc.org.uk/

 

 

VE DAY  75th Celebrations 

 

VEDAY75_landscapeA few ideas to celebrate VE Day at home

on Friday 8th May.

Resource Booklet Click: HERE

Guide with information regarding BBC broadcasts and activities on how to celebrate at home.

 

VE Day talk

A reflection for VE day and Covid-19

Resource Pack: ve-day-activity-pack-3

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Holy Week & Easter

Easter 2020

 Dear Friends

The story of Holy Week is a story of a roller coaster of mixed emotions. Everything from the ecstatic joy of the crowd on Palm Sunday to the confusion of many as the week progresses. Various players in the story want Jesus and then don’t want him. They are filled with anticipation and also with disappointment. They are angry and numbed with sadness. Individuals in the story are disappointed at their own words and filled with an overwhelming sense of being let down. 

There are moments of deep devotion and also the most terrible scenes of pain and grief. Jesus himself is caught up in this whirlwind of emotions, feeling a sense of isolation and abandonment finding himself praying alone in darkness of Gethsemane, whilst his friends sleep off the Passover celebrations.

Behind everything that happens however is a God who is doing something extraordinary. Who understands every reaction in the story because that God is living them in Jesus.

We too continue to face a whirlwind of emotions. Confusion, hope, anger, despair, anticipation, frustration, deep sadness, uncertainty as the effects of lockdown, isolation and social distancing takes it toll.

As the joy of Easter dawns, we are again reminded that God is also there for us, helping us through and encouraging us to be there for one another. For he is the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, the God of Ruth, Mary, Peter and John but also the God of the Colin’s, Sheila’s and us today.

Centuries before the time of Jesus, the Psalmist recognised that we are never alone when he wrote: ‘When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you’. (Psalm 56:3) May we this Easter put our trust in the in the risen Lord.

May God give you health, strength and peace this Easter.

David.

………………..

Please continue to pray for the circuit staff team, the staff of The Methodist Centre as they continue to reach out to the vulnerable and all in our communities who are supporting others at this time.

.………………….

Loving God, in Jesus Christ,

who died and rose again for our salvation,

cast out the darkness of our anxiety,

fear and mourning,

enfold us in your love

and give us joy and hope this Easter. Amen.

………………..

To view this as a video please click HERE

An Easter Message from the President & Vice President of the Methodist Church can by viewed: HERE

Stations of the Cross video: HERE

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EASTER WORSHIP IDEAS

Suggestions for Easter worship opportunities and how to help others in worship can be found here, including service sheets to be printed at home. For those Methodists feeling the loss of communion, a short act of spiritual communion is now available. Full details of resources for Easter are available here.

A selection of streamed Methodist services are taking place during Easter. The list of services, produced using current guidelines, can be found here.

The Evangelism and Growth Team has launched a new social media campaign:  #loveyourself #loveyourneighbour. The campaign will engage with the many well-being conversations that have recently sprung up. More information and all the graphics, as well as a link to give us your ideas and stories, are available here.

A fifteen minute reflection from the team at Methodist Central Hall Westminster is to be broadcast across all 39 BBC local radio stations at 3pm on Good Friday. The reflection has been produced following current guidelines. You can find your local BBC station here.

This Sunday, the virtual church choir organised by the National Methodist Choir of Great Britain will be performing a special online event on Easter Day, at 4pm to launch All We Can’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal. You can watch the ‘Easter Sunday Singalong’  on Facebook and Youtube channels.

The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, together with Church leaders from denominations across Britain and Ireland, have issued a statement in response to the ongoing crisis.

Guide for those bereaved & Funerals Resources.

(New Posts are in Blue)

Introduction

The loss of a loved one or a close friend at any time is hard. During the current crisis this is heighten with restrictions that the government has placed with Social Isolation & Distancing and limiting the numbers who can attend any crematorium or  graveside to 10 close family members. – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping social distancing in the prescribed way.  Those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition should not attend any funeral in the present circumstances , make it very difficult for all concerned. 

The Circuit staff are waiving funeral fees during this period, unless a Funeral plan with Minsters fees is in place. Because of the large number of funerals that are expected, we are sharing these amongst the staff team. 

We are offering to hold services of thanksgiving or memorial services in our churches later in the year.

Bereavement at any time is hard. Bereavement during a period of isolation with restricted movement and limited contact with family and friends is the hardest thing possible. 

COVID-19 CRISIS –  COUNSELLING SUPPORT SERVICE

The Association of Christian Counsellors Support service is offering up to 10 sessions for anyone who has suffered a bereavement during the crisis, whether or not this is because of Covid-19. Support is offered from qualified counsellors who are drawn from a number of professional backgrounds and are offering this service by phone or conference call.

For more information Click: HERE

 

Loss and Hope has shared this short video’s with immediate guidance for anyone who is supporting someone who is recently bereaved.  

Watch our short video on the different phases of grief to get a better understanding of what bereavement can look like.

Ideas for When a funeral isn’t possible

Coping with Bereavement

Grief and isolation

Coronavirus: grief and trauma

Prayers at the time of death

How to grieve when you can’t say goodbye:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52142660

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Bereavement and other resources within a school community. Click HEREHERE

School bereavement Policy Click: HERE

Prayers with the Dying

Spoken prayers (video) for those who are about to die Click HERE

Written Copy of the above Click: HERE

We offer a simple service for those who cannot attend a funeral – HERE

Funeral Resources provided by the URC Click: HERE

 

FUNERAL INFORMATION

Funerals can, and will continue in the name of the Methodist Church as part of our pastoral response to the coronavirus crisis. However, Methodist Church buildings can not be used for funerals at this time.  Simple graveside/ crematorium services are only offered at this time.

We acknowledge that the changes will be very difficult but are being made to protect everyone. 

  • • Care should be taken by those leading funeral services, including using hand-gel and/or hand washing before & after the service and social distancing.
  • • General government guidance means that no bereaved person (or officiant, obviously) can attend a funeral if they themselves are unwell. Likewise, if the cause of death is Covid-19, any of the bereaved who were in contact with the deceased, either before or after death, in the seven days prior to the funeral, should not attend. In these two, incredibly painful instances, ministers and churches will have to think carefully about how to offer pastoral support.
  • • The minister or trained local person under the direction of the Superintendent should make the arrangements with the family by remote media (telephone, skype, Zoom etc)
  • • The number of people attending a funeral should be kept to a minimum, immediate family members only – with those in attendance observing suitable social distancing as per the government’s advice.  Local Crematoria guidance currently is 10 family members only.
  • • Those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition should not attend in the present circumstances.
  • • Families attending must travel in their own cars, including the celebrant.
  • • The service may be broadcast via social media or recorded to be shared later. The minister should explain to people what is happening (especially those not physically present) webcast facilities are available at Westerleigh Group Crematoriums. (£30 per service)
  • • The service should include prayers and a message of Christian hope
  • • Do not use communal hymn books or service books, organist may not be available.
  • • People should avoid social contact, such as hugging or touching the coffin.
  • • Mourners or Pall bearers will not be allowed to carry the coffin.
  • • Ashes cannot be returned to family members until the crises is over, therefore scattering and internment of Ashes need to be postponed—this could be the opportunity for a future memorial service.
  • • There should be no social gathering such as a wake.
  • • Tributes can then be given in other ways for larger numbers of people to read – either online, or in a church newsletter – or given in a memorial service later in the year.
  • • currently Burials can still take place, but are to be reviewed over the coming weeks.

Local councils have guidance around what is possible or permissible in crematoria and cemeteries.

Ministers or other Local Preachers/worship leaders who are vulnerable – either because they are over 70, or because of health issues – should stand down from public duty. Much can be done from home, by phone and online. As a Church, we ask those who care for us to care for themselves too, especially when life could be at risk.

Changes to registering a Death.

Following a death, it is still necessary for the death to be registered by the Registar of Births, deaths and marriages in the district where someone dies. This is the formal record of the death and unless the coroner is involved, must be done either within 5 days, or a further 9 days, if the registrar has been notified that a medical certificate has been issued. Before the COVID-19 crisis, only certain people could register a death and had to attend before the registrar in person.

The Coronavirus Act has however expanded the list of people who can now register a death, and this includes funeral directors who are helping the family with the arrangements. Information and documents are still needed to be produced to the registrar, such as the medical certificate of death (which can now be sent electronically) and details of the birth, occupation, place of death and last address of the person who has died which can be given by telephone. The new rules also dispense with the signing of the register.

Bristol 

Bristol are only registering deaths or still births by phone. To register a death or still birth, call 0117 9222800. 

They will take your contact details, and a registrar will call you to register the death or still birth as soon as they’re available. You’ll be able to ask questions when they call. They’ll ask if you want to use government’s Tell Us Once service on GOV.UK. 

You will need the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) to register a death. The hospital or GP can send the MCCD to us. If you have the MCCD, take a photo of it and send it to us by email, we’ll tell you how when you call us. 

After you’ve registered the death, They will send you any death certificate that you have ordered and paid for, by post. 

These adjustments will at least give some assistance to families having to register a death and enable them to make arrangements for the person who has died with sensitivity and with dignity.

South Gloucestershire 

Register offices at Kingswood Civic Centre and at Yate One Stop Shop (Yate Shopping Centre) are only open for the registration of deaths. Due to the current situation only one relative or informant may attend the appointment. Payment for certificates should be made by debit or credit card, cash or cheque cannot currently be accepted.

 

 

(COVID-19) – Ideas for Well Being

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As a Mental Health First Aider with MHFA 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. Updates posted in Blue

 

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) was created by Mary Ellen Copeland, an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate in the USA.

WRAP is a tool that can aid an individual’s recovery and its underpinning principles support the recovery approach. WRAP is a way of monitoring wellness, times of being less well and times when experiences are uncomfortable and distressing. It also includes details of how an individual would like others to support them at these different times.”

WRAP has 5 key principles:

  • Hope: people who experience mental health difficulties get well, stay well and go on to meet their life dreams and goals.
  • Personal responsibility: it’s up to you, with the assistance of others, to take action and do what needs to be done to keep yourself well.
  • Education: learning all you can about what you are experiencing so you can make good decisions about all aspects of you life.
  • Self advocacy: effectively reaching out to others so that you can get what it is that you need, want and deserve to support your wellness and recovery.
  • Support: while working toward your wellness is up to you, receiving support from others, and giving support to others, will help you feel better and enhance the quality of your life.

 To download the WRAP Wellness Plan click :HERE

To Download the WRAP workbook click: HERE

Rural Well Being Tool Kit – published by the Arthur Rank Foundation exploring the feelings of Isolation & Loneliness common to people in all walks of life; Download a copy: HERE

reHab4addiction has produced some good resources for better Mental Health click : HERE

The Flowing Tide – A useful activity booklet produced by Mary Fleeson for Lindisfarne community. Click link for more information HERE  – The book has been created to inspire you as you travel an inward journey of discovery, seeking to know yourself better and to nurture a closer walk with your Creator. Included are prayers, meditations and activities to help you focus on your INNER Pilgrimage.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18—24 May)

Mental Health Awareness Week has been hosted by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001.

This year, in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the charity decided to change its theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, and has invited us to reflect on the theme of Kindness.

“We feel that now more than ever we need to re-discover our connection to kindness and each other in our daily lives. It therefore feels right to use Mental Health Awareness Week this year to celebrate the many thousands of acts of kindness that are so central to the quality of our mental health.”

The Mental Health Foundation website offers a range of tips and advice on how to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Also see the Wellbeing page on the Methodist Church website

 

Depression can happen to anyone, but there are some factors or experiences that can make it more likely to happen, such as in this case – a bereavement.

It is important to note that all-consuming sadness after a bereavement is very normal and entirely appropriate considering the circumstances. It is also not unusual for sadness to last a long time.

The difference between sadness that lasts a long time and depression can be a bit of a blurry line. However, there are certain ‘symptoms’ that people may experience when they are depressed that some people may not get when they are sad. People who are depressed may experience some of the following symptoms;

  • A persistent low mood
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low energy levels
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating

Breaking out of the cycle of depression

When people feel depressed it is not unusual for their motivation to be very low and for them to find themselves doing less and less. However, one of the first recommendations for people who are feeling low in mood is to increase their activity levels. This may be the opposite of what you feel like doing but it can have a positive effect.

Increasing activity levels can in turn increase your energy levels and can help break a negative cycle of thoughts. And an activity does not have to be a physical activity – it can also include doing activities for your mind.

Some examples of activities to try include;

  • Going for a walk
  • Visiting a friend
  • Meditating or listening to a relaxation CD (we have one we can send you if you would like – just contact us via the Contact page)
  • Clear out that cupboard you’ve been meaning to get around to for a while
  • Engage in a hobby you used to have
  • Talking to someone
  • Going to the cinema

These can be done in small doses but are definitely worth a try!

 

Hymns for health and healing

Reading the words of hymns can be a meaningful way of exploring feelings about our own mental health, and thinking about the issues more generally.

In 2019, Andrew Brown offered a new hymn, We pray for healing and for health. It’s a prayer for healing in many diverse contexts, as well as a re-assertion of God’s restorative power:

We pray for healing and for health;
for all who suffer in this world,
with minds that cannot bear its strains,
with bodies aching, full of pain.
Restoring God, we look to you,
bring healing to all people here.

Andrew is not alone in perceiving the need for more hymns that reflect our prayers “for healing and for health”, not least in relation to poor mental health. (See our interview with URC hymn writer Jan Berry, More to say about healing, recently updated.)

Andrew recognises the full, diverse extent of healing that we seek, both as individuals and as a society; the very many situations in which “hopelessness has taken root”. Also worth revisiting in this context is his more recent hymn, When life is shaken to its core, which he revised in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It echoes, in places, the writing of William Cowper who vividly expressed his own mental turmoil in hymn-poem form. See Pain and passion in the hymns of William Cowper.

Also within the printed hymn book, you may find it helpful to re-read these hymns:

O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health (StF 653) by Fred Pratt Green
Your words to me are life and health (StF 164) by George Currie Martin

Martin Leckebusch’s hymn When circumstances make my life too hard to understand (StF 641) echoes in part a difficult time in his own life. Laurence Wareing’s personal reflection on Martin’s words points to the broader “uncertainty and fear that so frequently we are unable to share amongst those with whom we gather to worship”.

From Singing the faith plus website.

Methodist Publishing is highlighting its Mental Health cards for under-12s and young people (“age-specific tips on how to stay mentally healthy”) and Geoffrey Baines’s lovely Slow Journeys in the Same Direction (above) – a beautifully designed adult colouring book that can be used for relaxation or as part of your daily devotions.

 

 

 

Self-care tips (please click on headings to download)

It’s more important than ever to be kind to ourselves, set aside time to look after ourselves, and stay connected with others. Here are some ideas that may be helpful: 

Address Your Stress

A toolkit for tackling stress, including simple self-care tips, understanding your Stress Container, and a weekly wellbeing check-up.

Empower Half Hour
30 minute activities to boost your wellbeing during the workday. Why not schedule a virtual Empower Half Hour with colleagues to help you stay connected. Which ones can you make work over a video call? Are there any others you can try? 

Helpful resources

Public Health England – Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) 
Government advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

City Mental Health Alliance – Supporting colleagues
Resources to help organisations support their colleagues, including how to manage remote teams in challenging times.

Every Mind Matters – Coronavirus and wellbeing
Includes ten tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus, and advice on maintaining your wellbeing while staying at home.

Mental Health At Work – Coronavirus and isolation: supporting yourself and your colleagues 
Mental Health At Work has grouped together resources to support one another’s mental health through the outbreak and through working remotely. 

Mental Health Foundation – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Some tips to help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health, including how to avoid rumour and speculation which can fuel anxiety.

Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing 
Information including practical advice for staying at home, taking care of your mental wellbeing, and finding support for benefits or housing.

Rethink Mental Illness – Covid-19 and mental illness
Online hub of practical support and information for people living with, or supporting people with mental illness.

Samaritans – If you’re worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Support and guidance for anyone worried about their mental health. 

Student Minds – Coronavirus resources
Guidance for the university community on looking after your mental health, including ways you can support friends and family, guidance for those experiencing xenophobia and racism, and for those with ongoing mental health difficulties.

Supporting your Mental Health whilst working from home. Click: HERE

The Little Blue wellbeing Book has been produced by our colleagues in Chaplaincy working at the NEC Birmingham and can be downloaded by clicking: HERE

Cyber Aware is the UK government’s advice on how to stay secure online during coronavirus. Click HERE: HERE

Many of us are spending more time online. Keep yourself and your family secure by following our advice.

Stay home. Stay connected. Stay Cyber Aware.

19th May Update

If you’re struggling with money worries in relation to COVID-19, Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert answers your questions in relation to travel insurance, holiday cancellation, sick pay rights and more.

Stress can sometimes manifest itself and become all-consuming, particularly when situations become out of your control, such as the COVID-19 health concern. To combat the feeling of overwhelm, here are five simple steps to de-stress.

Particularly if you struggle with anxiety or another mental health condition, media coverage of a global virus outbreak can be deeply concerning. But there are measures you can take to help protect your mental health, and help yourself and others, in the wake of a global health concern.

You can also visit Counselling Directory to find a local mental health professional who can offer telephone support and/or online therapy.

2nd May 

A simple “Quiet Day”for taking time out  in May prepared by Rev Anthony Hick – for people to find stillness in one’s own garden Click: HERE

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29th April

Some very helpful resources produced by Ministries – Vocation and Worship Team for Ministers can be found: HERE

Tips to keeping strong and positive can be found: HERE

The Joy Website offers a range of activities and online groups for people who are self isolating, including cooking lessons, book clubs, singalong etc. click:  HERE

Bereavement and other resources within a school community. Click HEREHERE

Prayer Spaces at Home. These prayer activities have been created for families to use at home. Click: HERE 

Loss and Life for our Children and schools post pandemic: “When will they actually go back to school?” This is the cry from many parents, as we write and there is no answer. But that does not stop us thinking about what it will be like for each and every one of our children, at whatever age, stage or ability level on the day they walk through the classroom door. Click  HERE

Love yourself Love your neighbour –  a short video clip from the Connexional team worth looking at: HERE

phone

A FREE phone service to hear prayers and news from the Methodist Church has been launched.

Listen to a prayer: 0808 281 2514

                                          Listen to news: 0808 281 2478

                                          Content is updated weekly on Thursday evening.

Is It Okay? A prayer Click:     HERE  for this short reflection written by Cathy Bird.

 

From the Church Of England – Daily Hope – call for free 0800 804 8044  for those without internet or feeling lonely or isolated. Click Here: HERE 

Daily Hope, offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line. Callers will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop before being able to choose from a range of options, including hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on COVID-19.

A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group



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Wellbeing of clergy and lay ministers during the coronavirus pandemic (Click HERE)

 

10th April 

You may well have seen the latest phase of HM Government’s Stay Home, Save Lives Coronavirus campaign “Act like you’ve got it”, which has now launched across TV, radio, outdoor, social media and print.

The campaign, which communicates the Government’s advice on measures to manage the pandemic, is designed to drive an increased urgency and compliance around key behaviours and are particularly aimed at those who haven’t yet changed their habits. It can be used by a whole range of partners and organisations, including Local Resilience Fora.

There are now also Stay at Home resources specifically for The bank holiday, click:
HERE

8th April

Some helpful tips during COVID-19 (for on-line church and staying in community)  Keeping in Touch guidelines

2nd April

How can we protect our mental health?

  • Limit the news and be careful what you read

  1. Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
  2. There is a lot of misinformation swirling around – stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites
  • Have breaks from social media and mute things which are triggering

  1. Mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts
  2. Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.
  • Wash your hands – but not excessively

  1. OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear.
  • Stay connected with people

  1. Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about.
  2. “Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you,” says Weatherley.
  3. If you’re self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
  4. It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.
  • Avoid burnout
  1. With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.
  2. AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
  • Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
  • Think about your new daily routine: Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine.

    Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.

  • Do things you enjoy: When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.

If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes and streamed live music concerts.

  • Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.

  • Keep your mind active: Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.

  • Take time to relax and focus on the present: This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources see Every Mind Matters and NHS’ mindfulness page.

  • If you can, once a day get outside, or bring nature in: Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside much you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can.

    Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep 2 metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.

    Staying at home

    Recent guidance is clear about the need for people to stay at home. If you are feeling anxious it might help to think about potential challenges and make a plan for them.

    Practical issues

    Supplies: Think about how you can get any supplies you need – either from a neighbour, family friends or a delivery service so you don’t worry about running out. Try to pick healthy food, especially as you might not get as much exercise as normal.

    Financial concerns: You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big impact on your mental health. For guidance on what your rights are at work, what benefits you are entitled and what further support is available please see the guidance for employees or advice from citizens advice or the National Debt line.

    If you care for other people: You may be worried about how to ensure care for those who rely on you – either your dependants at home or others that you regularly visit. Let your local authority know if you provide care, or support someone you don’t live with. Further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK

 

…………………………..

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.

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)  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJnqgVOdzVJyqDtp76o2-UQ

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.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJnqgVOdzVJyqDtp76o2-UQ

https://www.blurtitout.org/resource/the-coronavirus-helpful-hub/

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 Sheets updates 19th April

Coronavirus pt 15 Propery update phase two

Coronavirus pt14 Coping with Breavement

Coronavirus pt13 Ideas for When a funeral isn’t possible

Coronavirus pt12 Keeping in Touch guidelines (Pt12) – 8th April 2020

Coronavirus pt11 Guidelines for Pastoral Visitors 26th March 2020

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.

I also encourage everybody to watch this helpful video from Waltham Forest Burough Council and encourage you to consider how you are paying attention to the safety of those around you, particularly if you are using digital means to pastorally visit people in your community. Contact your church safegarding officer if you have any concerns.

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

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

 

Coronavirus Worship Resources

Please check the Circuit Website

for other Worship & Prayer Resources.

Click HERE

All new posts are in Blue

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

Posters to display outside your church or home

Download posters to print out

A Holy Week and Easter Poster

This poster is in two parts – display the first part (top half) in you window up until Easter Sunday morning. Then add the second part (bottom half) to make the poster complete (as seen here) on Easter Day.

You can also download a black and white version to colour in yourself as a mindfulness activity.

Download the first half of the poster (Pdf) (B&W version) (Pdf)

Download the second half of the poster (Pdf) (B&W version) (Pdf)

Resources for personal prayer and Bible study

From the Methodist Church in Britain

Daily Prayers from the Methodist Prayer Handbook

A Word in Time daily Bible Study 

Bible Reading Fellowship app for daily bible readings: BRF Link

Pray as you go app – Principles of Ignatian Prayer: Ignatian Prayer

Take Time produced by Reigate Methodist Church has many themed meditations on topics such as anxiety www.taketime.org.uk

Other Resources

Pray As You Go are producing a daily retreat for people socially isolating:
Retreat 

 

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.

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

Worship from home service sheet for Sunday 5 April – Palm Sunday

Worship from home service sheet for Sunday 12 April – Easter Day

 

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.

 

 

DSCN6036

 

Arthur Huckstep

Calvaire Cemetery

 

DSCN5649

 

 

 

 

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

DSCN5705.JPG

 

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.