You may have seen that this week the government have given permission for churches to open for services of 30 people. That’s great news - we want our churches to be able to meet to worship together again! It’s not all that easy to work out how best to arrange things, given that we are a large congregation, with lots of children who we can’t expect to understand social distancing, and a fair proportion of people who are still shielding. When you add in the fact that we won’t be able to sing or have communion, we have to recognise that although I, like may of us, am desperate to be worshipping alongside each of you, we won’t be able to ‘do church’ in the way we want to for a while yet.
I want you to know that we are thinking and praying and working hard to come up with ways of doing things that honour as many of you as possible, and are also manageable in this environment of constant change! As a starter, it would really help us in our thinking if we can better understand where you are coming from and how you are feeling about re-entering a greater degree of interaction again. So we’ve come up with this short questionnaire and I’d be most grateful if you would take just a couple of minutes to fill it in, before Wednesday 1st July.
The time will come when we’re sitting side by side in our building again and singing with all our hearts as we worship our faithful God together, but until then, watch this space for a creative and interesting summer!
With love, and prayers for you all,
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
THE GOLDEN BAG!
Last Friday the food distribution team hit a milestone - delivering the 2,000th bag of food from the Branch! That’s 12,500 individual portions of food since we began!
Our partners Chippy Larder also marked their 3,000th box of food delivered. This has been a great collaboration, with delivery drivers collecting a box from Chippy Larder, then a bag of Mary’s Meals and a Craft Pack from the Branch before taking to the lanes and roads of Chippy and surrounding villages to bless and encourage people who have been severely impacted by this crisis.
To give the recipient of our 2,000th bag a smile, and acknowledge the hard work of the volunteers this represented, we made this a golden bag, with a celebratory tag attached. Amazingly, the recipient immediately phoned to thank St Mary’s for all we’re doing; what a delight to have such lovely feedback, and another sign that God is at work in these very practical and small ways of loving people.
Following on from the mums encouragement packs, we also sent out packs for Dads marking Fathers Day. It’s sobering to see that we sent 60 packs for mums, but only 19 for Dads. So let’s keep praying for each one of those Fathers and the amazing role they have to play for their families.
FIRST PRIORITY PRAYER
Joint prayer meeting with the North Cotswolds Gospel Partnership.
1 July - 7.45pm - via Zoom.
It's always so uplifting to meet with other local churches and feel a sense of being part of something bigger. We'd love you to join us via Zoom to pray for our wider communities and give encouragement to our neighbouring brothers and sisters.
Sometimes we just need a few minutes of space and peace from the rushing world around us. Every Wednesday you're invited to take 10 minutes out of ‘normal’ life, to spend time pressing into Jesus with these midweek reflections.
I’ve called them Close Encounters because we can’t be close to people at the moment, but Jesus always comes very close indeed, breaking every distancing rule there’s ever been, as he looks at and loves each individual he meets. We’re going to eavesdrop on some of the meetings and give ourselves a chance to encounter Him too. I hope these will be a blessing to you.
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.