This week's St. Mary's Matters brings you lots of ways to connect!
If you're a young family, there's Mini Moments and Family Hub. If you're a little older you might be joining in with Youth on Thursday. Or if you know someone at the other end of the age spectrum with no internet then our "Resource of the Week" might be just the thing.
For those of us somewhere in the middle, our daily rhythm of six o' clock prayer continues, and if you'd like to be in a small group (most are meeting on Zoom) then please drop Ursula a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout history Christians have been determined to carry on meeting in all sorts of circumstances; whether in churches, homes, prisons or outdoors; secretly or in the open. Across the globe we can only imagine the variety of prayers spoken in many languages, songs offered, troubles and hardships shared and glorious joys celebrated.
So our Zoom meetings, although unconventional and probably no-one's first choice when it comes to communication(!), are part of something bigger - a resolve to continue to worship Jesus together, and journey with each other as brothers and sisters, whatever the season.
Let's not give up meeting together!
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
MINI MOMENTS AND FAMILY HUB
Cassie shares with us how, despite lockdown, families at St. Mary's are still able to connect, share life and support each other.
Tea brewed, slippers on, the hum of the laptop whirls – it’s 9:30 on a Wednesday morning and I have managed to sneak in a few moments of peace as my, now 10 month old, naps upstairs – time for Mini Moments! Three zoom sessions which run every Wednesday at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 to support young families.
With groups cancelled, tea shops closed and the cold weather drawing in it feels like a lifetime ago since I was last able to sit, with a cup of tea, and just chat about the trials of ‘newborn’ life. Faces old and new appear on my screen and for the next hour we natter away on every subject from jaundice to growth spurts; chaotic lives to sleep (or the lack of) and once we are finished I feel refreshed, reassured that I’m not the only one in this isolating covid boat, and ready to face the day. (Before we continue, a small side note, no, I don’t have a miraculous child, she did wake halfway through and I spent half my time chatting and also distracting my daughter with remote controls.)
You can see the effort that Bekah – our children’s worker – puts into these sessions, we returned for the 11:30 session which is a 45 minute activity slot, and Bekah was there - just as cheerful as before - entertaining children with songs and stories. Bekah’s passion and love of children seeps into all the work she carries out at St Mary’s, I’ve seen it in the meticulous and engaging Sunday school lessons that she plans and was touched when she came to visit both my daughter and I just before lockdown.
From the Family Hub which runs every Thursday from 13:30 -14:30 to Mini Moments there is something for everyone to enjoy and access - the world may feel closed but the children’s and family work at St Mary’s is most definitely open!
Food deliveries - Back on the Road!
With the news of second lockdown, and after consultation with the many agencies we work with, we decided that we needed to relaunch our food deliveries. Amazingly, within 24 hours we had 40 volunteer drivers ready to get back behind their wheels. We’ve had food donations from local farms, businesses, my weekly early morning trolley dashes around Aldi are back & the wonderful Wild Thyme are cooking delicious, nutritious family meals again. We are so grateful to have Philip Sharman, Ben Waddilove and Suzanne Saunders all back making it all happen at The Branch, this time joined by Betina (who’s been promoted from Craft Bag packing in the last lockdown!). It’s a fantastic team!
Over the last two weeks we have delivered 500 portions of food to 120 households, not as big as last time, but the referrals are growing and we are working hard to reach those families who have been affected by redundancy, and who have never had to seek help before. Back in May, The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Many renters are just one pay cheque away from homelessness”, we know this is also the case in Chipping Norton and are keen to connect families with the support that they need before they hit crisis point. If you think that you know someone who could benefit from these deliveries then please do get in touch with the Church Office on 01608 646202 and we will make sure we help.
APCM - THIS SUNDAY
Our annual church meeting gives us the chance to reflect (over a glass of Prosecco!) on what God has been doing through the church, to elect our churchwardens and PCC members, and to celebrate together what God is leading us into.
Usually this would take place before Easter, while the Annual Report for the preceding year is still reasonably fresh, but Covid forced the postponement of the 2020 meeting. It was originally hoped that, by delaying it, we would be able to gather in person, but that is sadly still not possible.
The revised date for our meeting is now Sunday 22nd November 2020, at 12.30pm, when we will gather on Zoom for the elections and presentation of the 2019 Annual Report. Do please join us, and please feel free to pour your own glass of fizz for the occasion!
The annual report is available to download here. Accounts are available to view here. For the Zoom link click below.
The youth small group is for anyone in school years 9-13 and runs from 7pm until 8.30pm every Thursday via Zoom. It's a great way to stay in touch during lockdown and a chance to catch up with how everyone is doing and look at the Bible together.
Daily Hope phone line - It's not every day you dial a phone number and hear Justin Welby's voice on the other end!
For those of us on the internet it's possible to find and share inspiring resources all the time. But most of us know someone who doesn't have the internet, and this resource might be just the thing to share with that person.
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. The phone line was set up by the Church of England in partnership with CONNECTIONS at Holy Trinity Claygate, and Faith in Later Life
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join in online, during the period of restrictions, in mind. Please share the number with anyone who you think might appreciate it.
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.