I hope you are all keeping well and safe in these strange times. As I mentioned in my previous message our church buildings are open for worship. Along with other churches in the Deanery and Diocese we have done this carefully and cautiously.
The Church of England has issued clear and particular guidelines for churches aimed at reducing the risk to virus transmission to an absolute minimum. These include the cleaning and sanitising of church buildings after use (or not using the buildings again for at least 72 hours), the requirement of all congregation members to sanitise their hands when they come in and when they leave and for social distancing to be observed at all times except at the moment Holy Communion (bread only for the moment) is received. There are particularly stringent guidelines for the clergy person leading the service in terms of sanitisation of hands and the covering of the bread whilst the Eucharistic prayer is said. The pews are already taped off in such as way as to distance worshippers by at least two metres unless they are members of the same household. Currently no singing is permitted, although there will be recorded sung hymns to listen to. Names and addresses of congregation members will need to be recorded and kept for 21 days from the date of each service to assist with “track and trace” if this is necessary. Service books are used once only by one person and then are put away untouched for at least 72 hours. Use of hand sanitiser is required by everyone and is used several times over by the priest whilst preparing the communion wafers. It does sound quite complex but I’m sure all will be well and we’ll be able to worship God without any distraction once we are used to the “new normal” (to coin the most popular phrase just now!). The majority of people attending our services have been wearing face masks which the Church of England has recommended.
Therefore, if you do have a face mask, please can I invite you to use one? With the other measures we have in place this will help us to continue to minimise the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.
If for the moment anyone would prefer not to receive Communion but would still like to take part in worship a blessing can be given instead with the priest socially distanced. You can also continue to worship at home using the service sheet (previously circulated or by clicking on the link on the next page)
Services will continue as:
Weekly Parish Eucharist at St Andrew’s Church, each Sunday at 10am. Please feel welcome to come even if St Andrew’s is not your regular church. For the moment, and principally because of its size, St Andrew’s is our shared parish church for Sunday worship. The church will continue to be open for private prayer on Thursdays from 10 am - 12 noon. There will be NO Sunday evening quiet prayer service.
Weekly Eucharist (Prayer Book) at St Peter’s Church at 11am each Wednesday morning. Quiet/private prayer will continue on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11am - 1 pm.
Weekly Holy Communion at All Saints’ Church each Wednesday morning at 10am which replaces the quiet/private prayer.
Over the past few months many families have not been able to touch or even see each other face to face. Express in the most natural way affection and love. Recent weeks has seen an easing of restrictions it is true but physical touch remains something to be done with great caution and restraint.
The family of the Church is the same and everyone looks forward to the day when friendly handshakes or a warm embrace can happen again. Whatever the restrictions at the moment we are always in the warm embrace of God. The love that he shows us through our Lord Jesus, our abiding, ever-present Saviour and friend, is nearer to us than we can ever imagine. A love which reassures, offers peace and hope and which will never let us go.
God continue to bless you and keep you safe.
The Church of England has prayer resources you might find helpful to use at home during this time of lock-down. These can be found on www.churchofengland.org under 'Coronavirus (Covid-19) liturgy and prayer resources'.
If you are familiar with "Zoom" (a video conferencing facility) and would like to join us for parish morning prayer at 9.15 am on Mondays and Wednesdays you would be very welcome. Please phone Dick on 07753116621 if you would like to and/or need help in getting set up.
The experience of Lockdown written down...?
We will all have experienced this time of lockdown in a different way. Perhaps it has been very tough. Perhaps we have found new opportunities or even worked on a new skill. Maybe we have been profoundly moved and amazed at the kindness of others. Although we cannot, at the moment, produce a Parish Magazine it would be wonderful if as many people as possible wrote something down to describe what this experience has been like. Perhaps in the form of a poem or a descriptive paragraph or a prayer. We could then include these in the pages of the Magazine when we are able to print it again.
If you are not already giving by standing order there is still no straightforward way we can collect weekly plate offerings. Please can I encourage you to continue putting your normal weekly offering to one side? It is really appreciated and needed. With any luck in the coming weeks there will be a way it can be collected in. Perhaps now is the time to consider setting up a standing order. Or you could write a cheque each month to St. Peter's, All Saints' or St. Andrew's indicating that it is your weekly gift offering and send it to the Parish of Monkwearmouth, Parish Office, St. Andrew's Church,Talbot Road, Roker, Sunderland, SR6 9PT.
We hope this information is helpful and useful at this difficult time.
Please see the page below for a further update.
Keep well and stay safe.
God bless you all.
Revd. Dick Bradshaw
A simple order of service can be found by clicking on the button below. Please try to use this as near to 10am as possible so that we can all be worshiping together despite being in our own homes.
The Celebrate Service is held on the first Sunday of each month, in the Priestman Hall of St. Andrew's Church. We meet informally in 'cafe style' relaxed atmosphere with tables and chairs so people can chat and get to know one another. There is no Holy Communion at this service. We sing modern worship songs using backing tracks and use the overhead projector for visuals, film clips and words for the songs. The services are put together by teams of people from the worship group at St Andrew's (everyone is welcome to join). Refreshments are served from 9.30 am and the service starts at 10 am and lasts approximately 45 minutes with more refreshments available after the service. A warm welcome awaits you if you'd like to join us!
Gather2Gether is different kind of meeting which is held on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 6.30 pm at All Saints' Church, Fulwell, Sunderland, SR6 0DG. We explore our faith, ministry, healing, read the Bible, pray, encourage each other, watch short film clips and much more! A warm welcome awaits you so please come and join us!