Minister's Letter

May - Sep 2020

Julian Smith

In the last newsletter, I gave thanks for our good fortune in having each other, and church premises, ministry and outreach all our own, and looked forward to our next adventure in faith together at the beginning of not just a new year, but a new decade. It felt very auspicious, at least for me: at the end of that period I’ll have passed what was the statutory retirement age of 65 and I’ll probably be looking at retirement from whatever I’m then doing; and if the last 56 years are anything to go by, these will be eventful years which will pass in a flash and I’ll be 66 sometime next week. Feeling a little fretful, Covid-19 struck and I was taken out of myself, but for a continuing fear for my health on account of my problematic asthma. Like you all, my concern has been with those in poorer health and otherwise less fortunate, especially amongst our community, and it’s been a privilege to pray, discuss, meet-up and work with you all during the height of lockdown which saw the chapel physically closed for longer than at any other time in her 180 year history. Not even the Blitz of WW2, which saw our old chapel reduced to rubble, kept us closed for so long; and we cannot guarantee that there won’t need to be further closure/s – Covid-19 is still with us as a highly contagious killer, there is no herd immunity, it can be caught twice, there is no cure, and treatments and vaccines are still under development / scaling-up. Like you I didn’t count on all this. Neither did the state and business, despite knowing as we should have done that events like this are not only possible, but highly likely in one form or another. So it’s been a quite surreal time for us all, and downlock’s proving equally surreal to those of us with a proper sense of the continuing threat of Covid-19 and or self- shielding and self-isolating. Not many of us feel like being out and about as we once were. I enjoyed a trip to my ‘local’ recently on its first day of reopening, with our local curate Lisa and our partners. It was lovely to catch-up with staff and locals and get a little merry. But I left before it got any busier and after I’d noticed more than a few people not taking the safety arrangements seriously. As compared to our arrangements at chapel, it felt like the Wild West! I counsel you all to take similar heed and remain alert at all times, and to make the most of your social bubbles virtually and safely in-person as our world attempts to return to something like normal. Andrew, Sue, Stephen and I who have worked on our risk assessment / opening plan and its operation, have been left in no-doubt as to how important it is to carefully manage contact with those outside our own homes, and I believe our arrangements at chapel usefully underline and illustrate how it should be done. So let’s get you all coming back ASAP. It’s been, especially for Chris’s family as you know, a tough time, difficult times lay ahead for sure, and chapel helps us to regain our bearings, pick ourselves up, brush ourselves down, and to take-up the journey of life again, ever onwards and upwards towards the celestial light and awaiting the next adventure in life and faith and standing together in the face of less welcome challenges, taking turns to lead the way or be brought up from the rear. So in all this we’re finally getting new roofs for the hall and the administrative block which connects it to the chapel, the better to weather the real, as well as the metaphorical, storms of life. But here’s to better weather at last!

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