Shepton Mallet Benefice and the Coronavirus (covid-19)

20th

January

2021

24th January

2021

January

6th

2021

January2021

A letter from Jonathan

Our next service for Sunday 24th January will be live-streamed at 11.00. You can watch the service on our YouTube channel or by clicking in the player below.

Dear Church Family

When people talk about being a Christian, conversations often focus on Church. When people talk about Church, they typically focus on services. When people talk about services the one area that tends to become the focus is worship. This is perhaps understandable, since ‘worship services’ are a natural focus of our lives as Christians. However, is this understanding of being a Christian, Church and worship what we find in the Bible? 

Following on from last week [Church Family News 13/01/21], the events of 2020 have presented us with a rare, if not unique, opportunity to reflect on our assumptions about Church and worship. The suspension of services in our church buildings offers us an unusual vantage point from which to reflect and pray with our Bibles open that the Lord would illuminate and expand our understanding of what it means to be a Church family in Shepton, Doulting or Cranmore. As He does so, we will be inspired and enthused as we seek the way forward in the year ahead. 

Once again, I find myself returning to the inspiring and exciting supernatural ’new-born’ Church of Pentecost. 

'42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' Acts 2:42-47. 

I was talking with a friend about these very verses only the other day and said, ‘We should all memorise them!’ I really think we should! They present us with a vibrant vision which we will move towards as we keep them before us in prayer. These verses highlight for us how the Church is the Church all the time not just on Sundays. Similarly, they remind us that, for Christians, all of life is an act of worship as all is done to the praise and glory fo God. They show us how living as Christians in all of life is the most powerful witness there is in the world to the transforming power of Christ. And it is deeply attractive. 

My challenge to you is simple: memorise Acts 2:42-47, think about this description of Church, pray and be encouraged by the promise of last week. If we are willing be ‘trained' by the Lord, He will produce ‘. . . a harvest of righteousness and peace.’

Love and blessings
Jonathan 


Services online

Sunday services at St Peter and St Paul’s

Covid Pandemic update: As of Wednesday 6th January, England returned to lockdown conditions. Following much prayerful consideration, the Rector, churchwardens and PCC have decided to suspend attended services for the time being. Our pre-recorded online services will continue as before - see here for full details.

However, the church building will be open for private prayer on Sundays from 10.00 until 12.00. The church will be unattended. Strict covid regulations will still be in place for anyone visiting the church building at this time. The protocols below refer to the former attended services but largely still apply to anyone visiting the church after 6th January for Sunday private prayer.


While we have put in place recommended hygiene and distancing practices, it is very important that you make an informed decision about when to return to services, taking into account any health issues and risk factors which apply to you or your family. For any who can’t attend, we’ll continue to stream services online so there is no pressure to return before you feel ready to do so. 


Arriving

  • Doors will open at 10:00 so to avoid long queues please don’t arrive before then! It might take a little while for us to get everyone in safely, so thank you for your patience.
  • In line with government guidelines, we will be displaying the official NHS QR code poster in church and in Peter Street Rooms. If you have downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app, please scan the QR code as you enter the buildings.
  • Parking, as always, is very limited. Please park in the public carparks unless there are mobility issues that would make this very difficult.
  • You’ll need to stay with your household as you come in and for the duration of the service and to stay two metres away from other groups
  • You’ll need to have your own face covering, ready to wear whilst you’re with us - and take home with you after the service
  • We’ll ask everyone to use the hand sanitisers provided as they enter the buildings, and before they receive the bread at Communion.
  • A one-way system will be in place in the church so please follow the instructions of the welcome team as they show you where your group should sit.
  • There will be youth and children’s meetings for ages 5 and up. Parents need to take their children to Peter Street Rooms at approx. 10.45am and collect from there after communion.

During the service

  • Please do not shake hands, high 5 or hug anyone - the Shepton wave is the new way of greeting each other!
  • We will not be able to sing out loud, but will worship together whilst listening to the live or pre-recorded music.
  • Please bring your own bible and notebook etc
  • Please bring a drink if you need one as we will not be providing refreshments.
  • The Peter Street Rooms ground floor accessible toilet will be open, but best just use in an emergency to be on the safe side.
  • Children will have their own groups in Peter Street Rooms. Any children attending church will need to remain seated with their household throughout the service. We appreciate this is difficult and apologise for the challenge!
  • The collection will be not be taken during the service - there will be a collection basket at the door if people wish to make an offering as they leave.
  • There won’t be a paper service/notice sheet - please ensure that you can see one of the screens.
  • After the pre-recorded streamed service, we will have a simple said service of Holy Communion where, if you wish, you may go forward to receive the bread, or a blessing from Tony or Jonathan, who will be standing at the front of each side aisle. Please sanitise your hands before just before receiving the bread. There will be ushers to guide you through this. 

Departing

  • Please do not shake hands or hug anyone as you leave! 
  • Please leave through the North Door, respecting the 2 metre distancing as you do so.
  • Feel free to feedback any comments. We’d love to make the experience of being together as good as possible while being as safe as possible. 


If you or any of your household: 

  • feel unwell
  • show or have shown any symptoms of COVID-19 (or have been in close contact with someone who has) within the last 14 days
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or been in close contact with someone who has) within the last 14 days
  • have been asked to self-isolate under the NHS Test and Trace scheme or have returned from a country outside of the UK government exemption list in the last 14 days, we would kindly ask you to please stay at home and join us online instead

Benefice Updates

Supporting our fellowship

We are keeping a list of those who are self-isolating, along with any particular pastoral or practical needs so that we can arrange appropriate help. Morag Brown is co-ordinating this. Please let her know of any needs or changes to need as they arise.

Keeping us praying

Praying together as a family is vital. We will be sending out a weekly list of prayer needs for the whole church family and our community. Do try to set aside a time each day to pray - many of us are pausing at 8 in the mornings and evenings to do this, and knowing that others are too at the times is encouraging.