Ministry in Lockdown – November 2020

Dear friends
November is a season of Remembrance, and this year much more than most as so many people have been affected by Covid 19 in so many different ways. We start the season by holding special services on All Souls Day, 2nd November. Our normal evening service will still take place at Shiplake Church, but as this service frequently attracts over 50 people we cannot accommodate everybody – so – Pam, Sarah and I will be in one of the three churches from 11am till 4pm that day with a short service on the hour, every hour so that people can pop in, light a candle and take a moment to contemplate in church. In the evening all the names of those who have been remembered in the three churches will be read out at a special service at Shiplake Church. This service will be live streamed so that those who cannot attend may be able to join in as an on-line congregation.

We had a joint Benefice PCC meeting near the end of October to look at what might be possible at this moment in time to celebrate all the special services coming up, and the list of the services that we plan to hold in November appears elsewhere in this magazine. If you have any ideas as to what else you would like the church to be offering/doing at this time then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We are living through such strange time that our ‘normal’ church activities simply cannot take place – looking specifically at Christingle, the 9 lessons and carols, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day…. We are being creative in considering what we might be able to offer and I thought that you might like to hear some of our current plans – BUT and this is a BIG but, everything that we plan may change at a moment’s notice due to new government and church regulations, so you do need to be looking at our website and read the emails that we send out as we try to ensure that everybody knows what is happening.

Remembrance Sunday – again this cannot be ‘normal’ – it is not good practice for the clergy to go from church building to church building as in doing so we might be responsible for taking Covid 19 between congregations. We are therefore trying to ensure that this does not happen and that your priests are only in a single church building in one day. Our usual gathering around the War Memorial at Lower Shiplake cannot take place this year due to the ‘Rule of 6’. To allow as many people as possible to attend Remembrance services there will be an inside service at Harpsden, an outside service at Dunsden Green, an inside service at Shiplake and then we move to Shiplake Church Yard for an outside service at the Church Yard Cross – the wreathes will be moved to the War Memorial at a later date.

Advent – we are hoping to have an on-line Advent Calendar with a daily reflection lead by various members of our community. This will all be pre-recorded (something new for us) and then broadcast each day, at a set time, during Advent.

9 Lessons and Carols – we are in discussion with our singers and organists as to how to do this! We are hoping to be able to pay a professional to come in and record various aspects of this service. These will then be put together and broadcast as a complete service – again something new for us.

Christingle – we are looking at two possibilities. One holding the Christingle in Shiplake Primary School, and the other having two drive through services at Dunsden for families to be involved in. A real work in progress.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – we simply cannot accommodate our normal numbers of people. We are investigating if we can fit extra people in St Peters Vestry at Harpsden (but they would only be able to hear the service, and not see it). We are also looking at the feasibility of having a Drive-in event on Christmas morning at Dunsden – but we will need lots of volunteers to help out at many of these events.
On Christmas Eve we are also working with the Deanery to promote a Doorstep Carolling at 7pm that evening. The idea is that a single carol is chosen, people light a candle in a window and at 7pm come onto their doorstep and sing a carol.

As you can see lots, and lots of ideas and projects. Hopefully many of them will happen, but if you think of something that we have overlooked then please, please, please do let Sarah and me know.

I pray that you are all keeping safe and well and that your Pastoral Contact is still supporting you during these difficult times.
May God Bless you all
Robert