Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As your parish priest I am writing to you today to offer you advice and encouragement at this very unusual and difficult time for the whole of our country and to explain what will be happening over the weeks ahead.
As you may be aware by now, the Church of England has issued new guidance that public worship should be suspended until further notice. This means that our usual pattern of Sunday and Thursday worship as well as the Lenten addition of Stations of the Cross and Compline will be put on hold as of today. There will also be no Bible Study Group, Choir Practice, Film Night or Saturday Cafe.
Last night I met with your churchwardens, Janet and Doris, and Mark, your reader, in order to rethink how we can continue to best serve the parish of St Cross under the present circumstances. This was a very productive meeting and I am grateful for their wisdom, pragmatism and commitment. After careful discussion we came to the following decisions:
Doris, Mark and I will celebrate Mass together on Saturday morning. This will be filmed and uploaded onto the church website so that those of you who have internet access can participate in the worship on Sunday morning from the comfort of your own homes. (Those of you who are on Fr Chris' postal mailing list should receive a copy of the Lent service booklet in the post along with a copy of this letter.) If you would like us to pray for someone in particular or if you have particular prayer requests, I would ask you to email or telephone them through to me by Friday so that we can include them in our worship on Saturday. As well as this the BBC will continue to broadcast the Daily Service at 0945 each morning on Long Wave, digital, and via BBC Sounds. They will also broadcast Choral Evensong and Sunday Worship at the usual times. Songs of Praise will provide a TV outlet for joining in worship. For those of you who do not have access to the internet and would like a copy of the weekly readings and sermon, I would please ask you to telephone and let me know and I will ensure that a copy is posted out to you every week.
In addition to this you will also find resources for prayer and worship in the home, including that which is suitable for families with children, on our website (see bottom of post for a link to our Worship from Home section). This will be especially important for those of you who are self-isolating.
We will endeavour to keep the church building open for private prayer every weekday morning from 9am until 12pm. However in order to do this we need faithful volunteers. If this is something you think you may be able to help with, I would be immensely grateful if you could contact me, either by phone or email.
Aware of our commission to be at the forefront of providing practical care and support for the the most vulnerable in our parish, we have taken the decision to continue to run our Food Bank although we will be putting extra measures in place to ensure the safety of our users and volunteers. We anticipate that the Food Bank will become more needed than ever as demand for supplies increases. We therefore humbly ask that you carry on supporting the Food Bank and buy extra provisions for it if you are able to. These can be dropped off at church any morning during the week.
We are mindful of the need to ensure that those who are “self-isolating”, including our own congregants, do not become isolated and cut off from wider society. It is our intention to offer practical support to all those who are unable to leave the house. If you are self-isolating and have no one to go to the shops for you, please contact me so that I can put that support in place for you. If you would like and are able to offer that kind of support I would also again ask you to let me know. I am also happy to take Next Of Kin details from anyone who feels that would be helpful.
Finally we would ask you to continue with your financial giving. This is needed more now than ever, especially since some of our key fund raising events may well have to be suspended. The easiest way to keep up with your giving at this current time is via our JustGiving page. This allows you to make single or monthly payments anonymously. You may also decide to set up a Standing Order to us through your own bank. Standing Orders can be stopped at any time. The church’s bank details are as follows:
St Cross Church PCC
Account No: 25185373
Sort Code: 01-02-77
For those of you who would prefer to give cash in the usual way via the stewardship envelopes, then this can be done by pushing the envelopes under the vestry door on any weekday morning when the church will be open for morning prayer.
In the coming weeks, matters will no doubt continue to change, perhaps in ways we cannot as yet predict. What remains unchanging is God’s unfailing love for us, shown in Jesus Christ, who himself went through the pains of suffering and death for our sake. As St Paul assures us, nothing can separate us from that love. Love God, love one another. Pray for each other, and pray also for us, your parish priest, Church Wardens and Reader. Please know that my own prayers for you all, offered daily through the daily Morning and Evening Office are ongoing. I will also continue to ask the Web Team to update the church website and Facebook page with news, updates, advice and encouragement and I will also write to those of you who do not have access to the internet.
With every blessing,
54 Clayton Hall Road
0161 223 0766