Shepton Mallet Benefice and the Coronavirus (covid-19)




21st February






A letter from Jonathan

Our recent service for Sunday 21st February was live-streamed at 11.00.

You can watch the service now on our YouTube channel or by clicking in the player below.

Dear Church Family

As you no doubt know, the duration of Lent mirrors the time Jesus spent in the desert after His Baptism and before His public ministry began. See Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13 or, for those of you who love brevity, Mark 1:12-13! There, weak and vulnerable, at the end of Himself physically, the devil came to tempt Him. The devil’s plan was to cause Jesus to be unfaithful to God His Father and thus render Him unable to bring salvation to humanity. 

Throughout the confrontation, Jesus doesn’t use any supernatural power to resist the devil, rather Jesus responded to each of the three temptations by quoting God’s word. The power of God’s word lies in its truth. Just think, the true, trustworthy word of God in the Bible carries such authority that it exposes even the deception of the devil himself! How should we respond to such a fact? We need not guess. Through the prophet Isaiah, God has told us: with trembling! See above. 

When we read the Bible and say something like "To me it says . . . ” we are falling into a modern way of reading known as deconstructionism. Deconstructionism says that words have no real meaning in themselves, only the meaning we give to them as we read. This is very dangerous and quite different from God's ideas about His word! 

The words of God cannot be broken, they cannot be set aside by some new truth, they cannot be amended by future generations as the US constitution for 'The word of the Lord stands forever.’ (Isaiah 40:8 quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 1:25.) When we approach the Bible we need to be mindful that the words we hold and read are the very words of God. We should therefore seek to understand them, accept them, trust them and submit to them. Moreover  because word and Spirit are inseparable, as we receive God's word, we are being filled by the Spirit. 

In this first week of Lent, ask yourself, ‘What do I believe the Bible is?’ Your answer will determine your life. 

The Lord’s guidance and grace

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. 


  • 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. 


  • 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.