Parish Magazine

Joel’s Pastoral Letter for August

Dear friends,

It is good to be writing to you again and to share with you the news that from Sunday 9th August at 9.30am, we will be returning to the church to celebrate the Eucharist together.

Whilst several precautions are required to enable us to be confident of ensuring worship can happen in a safe way, we are delighted to be in the position where this is now possible. Under the guidance of the House of Bishops, we are needing to ask a few things of those who attend. I write the following, not to put anyone off, but as reassurance that we are doing everything we can to create a safe environment. 

We are asking that all people entering the church for worship please wear a face mask and for you to please use hand sanitiser as you enter and exit the building. 

You will also notice a one way system in place throughout the building; seating which is spaced in a socially distanced way (this can be adapted for household units who would like to sit together); and service sheets placed on each seat, which we are asking that you take home.

You may also notice some amendments to the service (including the Eucharist being brought to where you are seated).

Furthermore, we have been asked by the House of Bishops to advise those at extra risk and the ‘clinically vulnerable’ that there is increased risk of infection when attending worship, however, I want to underline that the decision to attend or not, is yours to make.

It has been a blessing to see approximately twenty people gathering in the church over the last few weeks for private prayer, and also to be able to welcome a similar number into the church garden last week for a socially distant catch-up. In the coming months, I think it will be important for us to learn how to be together again, not only in the context of worship, but in safe social gatherings. With that in mind, I would be delighted to see you again for Church Garden Coffee, after the morning services from Sunday 9th August. If the weather is not looking so bright, we will gather in the church hall. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer refreshments and I would encourage you to bring you own.

I also want to let you know that on Thursday 27th August there will be a Eucharist service at 10AM. I am hoping (subject to an easing regarding guidance on serving refreshments) that this might be followed by a coffee morning. Please do keep an eye out for communication from me over the next few weeks, as I hope to announce news of further activities and services.

In his homily on Sunday 2nd August, I know that in speaking on the passage of the feeding of the 5000, Fr. Ray will be touching on the subject of community. As Fr. Ray was sharing some of his thoughts with me, I was led to remember the words of the late Jean Vanier: 

‘A community becomes truly and radiantly one when all its members have a sense of urgency. There are too many people in the world who have no hope. There are too many cries which go unheard. There are too many people dying in loneliness. It is when the members of a community realise that they are not there simply for themselves or their own sanctification, but to welcome the gift of God, to hasten His kingdom and to quench the thirst in parched hearts, that they will truly live community. A community must be a light in a world of darkness, a spring of fresh water in the church and for all people. We have no right to become lukewarm.’

Friends, we cannot manufacture community, but we can seek to allow it to grow amongst us. As we begin coming back together, I think we have the opportunity to ask the question again: ‘what kind of community do we want to be?’ My hope, is that as we re-emerge, we will further become a community of hope, burning with the love of God; a community who is a beacon of light for Bognor Regis; a community with a sense of urgency, who welcomes the most vulnerable in our society; a community who exist not for ourselves, but for God and the wider community that we are part of.

May you each know the love of God who calls us into the beauty of true community with Himself.

In Christ, with love,

Joel and Lella Mennie