Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am writing to you in the prayerful hope that you are staying safe and keeping well. You will be aware that on Monday the government escalated measures and that we are now required to stay at home, except for very limited purposes. This means that at the moment St Cross must remain closed to the public at all times. I would nonetheless like to thank those of you who offered to church-sit and I’m hopeful that in a few weeks’ time we will be permitted to reopen.
With regards to worship, it is no longer deemed safe for three of four of us to gather on a Saturday in church to record a celebration of Holy Communion. Bishop David has given permission, whilst the lock-down continues, for lone celebration of the Eucharist to take place in rectories. With this in mind, I will continue to celebrate at home and ensure that the recording is online for you to make your own spiritual communion on Sunday by logging on to the church website.
As I was saying Morning Prayer this morning I was struck by a verse from one of the readings which states: And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. In obedience to this verse, I encourage you to be as faithful at joining each other with the online worship as you are at coming to church on Sundays. And for those not online, I encourage you to follow the service using the Order of Service sent last week and the readings and sermon enclosed with this letter.
As a result of the stricter measures currently in place, you will, like me, be spending the majority of your time at home. At the moment, it is still permissible to leave home for one form of exercise a day. I would encourage you to do this as it is so important to remain active both for our physical and mental wellbeing. For some tips, advice, guidance and things you can do to keep moving during this time of physical distancing I would refer you to https://www.greatersport.co.uk/ways-to-keep-moving.
Of equal importance is the need to attend to our spiritual lives throughout the week and to make the most of the extra time and space that we now have to do that. The German theologian Karl Barth wrote that “to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” and Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describes prayer as “a stillness akin to birdwatching, spending time waiting to catch sight of the movement of God within”. Taken seriously prayer is a discipline - difficult at times – but with the reward of encountering God fully and changing the way that we think about our lives, through creating new habits of heart and mind. If you are looking for a way of praying regularly and as a discipline, I would recommend you look though the worship pack enclosed and I would also ask that you continue to phone or email prayer requests across to me so that I may offer them as part of our weekly celebration of Holy Communion. May I also reiterate that I can be contacted at any time should you require any support or help with shopping or anything else.
As far as I can understand, community facilities, including faith buildings, may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services. I am looking into ways in which our Food Bank can continue to run with minimal physical contact and it may be that I make the decision to move to a delivery system. Please see the website for further info about this.
Finally I would like to draw your attention to a number of support and advice services which have been shared with me, that you may find to be of benefit. I have enclosed that information for your attention.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for you.
54 Clayton Hall Road
0161 223 0766
Citizens Advice Manchester
You can still access advice by calling Citizens Advice Adviceline on 03444 111 222, by Facebook messenger or by webchat https://www.citizensadvicemanchester.org.uk/
The Silver Line- helpline for older people
This is a free, confidential helpline dedicated to older people which is open every day and night of the year. They offer information, friendship and advice—or just someone to chat to.
The helpline team can also direct you to groups and services in your local area that might be of interest to you.
0800 470 80 90
Mental health helplines:
Self Help offers a wide range of support and services for people living with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias and panic attacks.
Phone: 0161 226 3871
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm)
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Advice on dealing with domestic violence.
Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)
Cruse Bereavement Care
Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Age Uk Call in Time Telephone Befriending
For Befriending: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/
Or to Volunteer: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/telephone-befriender/
Cyril Flint Befrienders
Telephone:0161 942 9465
Advice on all aspects of parenting, including dealing with bullying.
Phone: 0808 800 2222 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 3pm)
The UK's largest provider of relationship support.
Phone: 0300 003 0396.(Monday-Thursday: 8am to 8pm, Friday: 8am to 6pm, Saturday: 9am to 1pm)
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
IMPORTANT MESSAGE RE THE CORONAVIRUS
All of us at the Parish Church of St Cross with St Paul, Clayton hope that this message finds you well. We are sure that you will have been following the news at what is a very anxious time for everyone in the nation and especially for those who are considered most vulnerable. Lots of our sisters and brothers who are connected with St Cross Church are in those categories.
In response to the government and Church of England advice you will probably not be surprised to hear that we have decided to suspend all church activities and public worship with immediate effect. That will include everything - Move it or Lose it on Tuesday at 11am, Stations of the Cross and Compline on Tuesday at 7.30pm, Deanery Dancing on Wednesday at 7.30pm, Lectio Divina on Thursday at 6pm, Choir at 7pm and Film Night on Friday at 6pm, as well as our Sunday and Thursday Worship.
We will however continue to operate our Food Bank with some changes to how we do things so as to minimise potential risk to our users and volunteers.
We are expecting to receive further advice from church leaders in Manchester and London in the coming days and we will stay in touch with everyone as things develop. There are all kinds of questions which we are unable to answer right now. Questions about weddings, baptisms and funerals are some of the issues are being discussed.
There will be a meeting of our Standing Committee today (Wednesday) to discuss how we can to continue share worship and prayers digitally to keep our community connected and involved and we will keep you updated on these plans through our website, Facebook and email.
We are also working on ways that we can maintain pastoral contact with those who are ill, lonely or feel isolated, and you will receive further emails from us once our plans have become more fully developed. In the meantime, if you know of anybody who needs assistance, please use my contact details below and I will do my best to arrange support.
The most important consideration for us at St Cross with St Paul is how we continue to be the Body of Christ and serve the people around us, when all of our normal ways of doing this are unavailable. We'd rather it had come in another way but we have been presented with an opportunity to stop, think and pray about what BEING church looks and feels like.
We will keep in touch… we invite your prayers for those affected in so many ways.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…
Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46)
With our love and prayers,