Sixth Sunday after Trinity - 19 July 2020
Joy has asked me to write this week's message so I would like to take the opportunity to update you on what's been happening in recent months and what will happen when our doors are open for services once again.
What's been going on
Not everything has come to a standstill during lockdown. Some external maintenance jobs have been carried out on the church and our long awaited new brick path has been laid to the car park. It looks very smart and matches the other paths to the church. It will also be safer as it is smoother, wider and has a handrail on the section nearest the car park to help people who find the slope there difficult.
During the Coronavirus lockdown, St Mary's, like all charities has had concerns about finances. In our case we have suffered loss of fundraising income and cash offerings made at services. In particular, loss of funds from Carnival will prevent us from adding to our Fabric Fund this year and it is through the Fabric Fund th at we manage to keep our lovely but expensive, Grade 1 listed building in good repair.
However, all is not gloom as many people have responded to our concerns in these difficult times. Some have changed their giving from cash or envelopes to standing orders, others have sent in cheques, or posted their weekly envelopes through my door. We are very grateful to everyone for their generosity and continuing commitment.
Our new online giving platform
Give a Little, has made a very successful start. We have had two campaigns; the first invited people who made a saving on petrol during the lockdown, to pass some of that bonus onto St Mary's. This has so far raised £525, to which gift aid of more than £100 will be added.
Another fundraiser has been our successful Scarecrow Competition which I'm sure did not escape your attention! Donations are now over £1000 and gift aid will also boost that total. This event was not only about money though, as the intention was also to create a fun weekend for villagers, in compensation for loss of the Carnival this year. It was enthusiastically received by local people and there have been many requests for it to be made a regular event.
Although we are concerned about our own income, we are not for getting other charities. We will share the proceeds of the Scarecrow Competition with Dunstable Foodbank as they were to have been one of the major beneficiaries of Carnival funds. Here is a summary of the support St Mary's has already given to charities this year:
- £275 to Foodbank from contributions made 'in the jar' earlier this year
- £250 to Foodbank from the PCC's charitable giving fund
- £500 to Christian Aid from St Mary's including donations from the Churches Together event 'Pancakes & Prayer'
- £210 to Send a Cow in memory of Sheila Heffer. Our contribution benefited from the UK Gov Match Aid scheme and so this will fund two cows to help support impoverished families in Africa.
Opening the doors at St Mary's
I'm sure you know that churches may now open for services. We have not rushed to do this as there are many matters to take into consideration. We have been following the guidance of the Church of England and the Diocese and above all, safety has been our concern. We plan to open in August; there will be more precise information soon.
The experience of attending church will of course be very different for the foreseeable future. Here are some indications of what to expect:
- Seats have been separated so individuals are socially distanced. Members of the same household may of course sit together and seats will be arranged in part of the church to allow this.
- Hand sanitizer is available and should be used when entering and leaving church.
- Service sheets will be one use only and we ask people to avoid touching things in church unnecessarily.
- We will not be allowed to sing at present as this encourages the spread of the virus but we will have music.
We know that not everyone will be able to return to services in church immediately but no one will be forgotten. Our online services which can be accessed on our website, Facebook page and You Tube channel will continue; we know they have been appreciated by many and have really h elped keep us together in these strange times.
Lockdown has made us embrace the digital world; we have had to learn so much quickly and we are exploring ways of live streaming or recording the service in church so that the whole of our community can wor ship together.
With all good wishes
Public comments are closed for this article, but you are welcome to send us your thoughts on this article via the Contact Us page.