Hampers lovingly put together for each of the Life Skills attendees to enjoy at home
Perhaps, like us, you've been going back to the drawing board this week, adjusting your plans and working out new ways forward!
Well, the good news is that we've still got lots going on, and unlike the first lockdown we don't have to start from scratch. So here's a run-down of what's still happening at church over the next weeks:
This Sunday there will be a Sunday service video on the website for you to worship along with at home.
We'll be meeting for coffee and chat via Zoom at 10am. Look for the "It's Sunday!" email for the link.
As well as that, we'll be livestreaming our Act of Remembrance (with a minimum number of attendees) from the church at 10.45am.
Youth in years 7 to 13 are ALL (not just the younger ones) invited to join Joel and the team via Zoom at 11am (find the link below).
Children and families are invited to join Rebekah via Zoom at 10.30am. Please get in touch with Bekah for the Zoom link: email@example.com.
After this Sunday
During November there will be a video on our website each Sunday. There are lots of other ways that the Sunday content can be accessed and we'll remind you about those below.
For more information about children and families provision in November click below:
(We're still finalising some of the details to do with the youth provision, particularly which age groups are meeting when. However, if you're in youth, Joel will keep you posted, and everyone who is in year 7-13 is invited to this Sunday's Zoom.)
Food distributions are starting up again. If you need any help or know someone else who needs help please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The phone web (which never really stopped) will be becoming busier (see below).
Finally "Setting a Watch" prayer continues at 6am and 6pm daily via Zoom. As the Archbishops invite us to make this November a special month of prayer, you'd be so welcome to join in on any day to pray for the need of individuals, our church, our community, our nation and our world.
Despite disruptions to our own plans, we can be sure that God is working his purpose out. As the song goes; "Who can stop the Lord Almighty?"
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
A CALL TO PRAY FOR THE NATION
On Wednesday 4 November, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and Bishop of London called the Church of England to pray for the nation throughout the month of November.
"Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever."
The Archbishops, in consultation with the House of Bishops, decided that this call would take the form of an invitation to every Christian and person of good will to pray at 6pm every day for the period of this present lock-down.
Resources are available from the Church of England website (click below), but these are just one set of tools that can be used. 6pm is also the time of our "Setting a Watch" prayer, so why not respond to this call by joining with others from St. Mary's and collectively sharing our dreams, our concerns and our yearnings with our loving Father as we build each other up in Christ.
Many of you may have heard James' very exciting announcement last Sunday that the October Gift Day, marking almost to the day the anniversary of the purchase of 16 Market Place - The Branch - had reached the targeted £300,000 that was set before the Church family. These funds are designated for the Building to Serve project - the redevelopment to create The Branch and much needed Church improvements. In fact the giving has continued to increase this week and has now reached £315,000!
We are extremely grateful for the huge generosity of so many in our congregation and in awe of the Lord's extraordinary provision. This significant contribution clearly shows the strength of support that there is behind the project within the church family which will be a great asset as we approach grant making bodies and local philanthropists to support these vital projects. Please accept a huge thank you from all of us involved in the Building to Serve project.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
ACT OF REMEMBRANCE
Everyone is welcome to join us via livestream this Sunday, 8th November, at 10.45am for our Act of Remembrance to remember those that have given their lives in conflict.
We will be joined by representatives from the Royal British Legion, listen to a short address from Flt Lt Alex Barker (who is known to many of us in the congregation) and be guided in our reflections with music from our worship team.
Access is via our YouTube channel or by clicking below.
With a second lockdown in these shorter and colder days, the sense of loneliness may well increase, and not just amongst the elderly.
We are keen to know of anyone - a neighbour perhaps? - who would welcome a phone call occasionally. You may not feel able to do this enough yourself, and would be relieved to know that someone else is in contact too. Perhaps you could suggest to them that there are people willing to phone them for a friendly chat and if they are happy, you could pass on their name and phone number to Judith.
As we would then be extending the phone web, we could do with more volunteers to phone someone for an occasional friendly chat. Please let Judith know if you could do this.
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.
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. We'll be running a course again in the Autumn, but in the meantime, find out more here...