July 2020 magazine
Here’s a link to our Benefice July 2020 magazine:
It was put together before the news broke about churches being allowed to open for worship from July 4th, though we were hopeful that it would be soon. If you follow the link, you’ll find prayers, reflections and updates.
There’s also this letter from our Vicar, Dave Thompson…
The events of Spring 2020 will remain long in the memory and its effects will impact upon our world for many years to come.
As we wished everyone Happy New Year six months ago, we were blissfully unaware of what was to lie ahead.
The lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in lots of ways. The 42,000 + excess deaths in the United Kingdom alone is a national tragedy. The trauma experienced by millions of people will take a great deal of time to heal.
Amidst the deep sadness caused by Covid-19, there have been a number of positive initiatives. People have cared for each other within their communities; those regarded as key workers have been quite rightly lauded and the needs of those who have been unable to venture out have been paramount.
In addition, neighbourhoods have been brought closer together. Friendships have been formed as people met on a socially distanced basis to clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening or to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
I know that this has been a testing time for the faith of many believers. The lack of worship in a physical church setting and the scandal of having the church buildings closed even for private prayer has proved very difficult. Whilst we do not require a church building to practice our faith, a building does give a community a sense of spiritual orientation. Hopefully this month we can once again meet for worship in the familiar surroundings of our church setting.
Distancing – whether physically with other people – or missing the comfort of familiar places, has caused great pain. The last three months or so have taught us so much about what we take for granted and how we cope with doubt and uncertainty.
In a pastoral letter on the Feast of Pentecost, the Bishop of Manchester wrote about the challenges that have faced the Christian community within the Diocese in recent times. One particular section is worth repeating as we look forward to returning to some sort of normality.
“A few years ago, the Church of England produced a series of graphs using the Statistics for Mission returns we complete. One such placed each parish as a blob on two axes: mission strength and financial strength; with the size of the blob indicating the number in the congregation. What stuck out from the diagram was that the two dimensions do not necessarily go together. A church can be vibrant in mission but financially poor, or it can have healthy income and deep pockets, but be doing little by way of mission.
As we begin the journey out of lock-down, and hopefully we will do it in such a way as not to risk a second peak, I expect that we will find our mission strength has grown but our financial strength has weakened. We will need more than a temporary bale out, or dipping into savings and reserves, to put us back on an even keel. We will have to think deeply about our generosity to meet both our existing and our new mission aspirations.
The current crisis also means that we will have to move more quickly than we had anticipated with significant changes to the way we currently operate, to ensure we are missionally and financially sustainable and to achieve our vision for the diocese – to be a worshipping, growing and transforming Christian presence at the heart of every community.”
Strengthened or weakened?
Have we as a Christian community in the United Benefice of Walmersley Road been strengthened or weakened by the effects of Spring 2020?
Are we prepared to move forward in faith and adapt to the different circumstances that we find ourselves in? Whatever has changed this year – and whatever new situations we find ourselves in as we look ahead, we know that God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit never changes. The words of the famous collect apply more than ever at this time:
Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
With best wishes. Stay Safe & God Bless. Dave
So, please take a look at our July 2020 magazine. For our June 250th celebration magazine, please press here.