From the Vicar
As I write today (17 May) we have entered step 3 of the roadmap and a further easing of restrictions is taking place. For many, this may be a cause for rejoicing as we are now able to go on holiday to certain countries (without quarantining on return), eat indoors at restaurants and pubs, go to the cinema and sports matches, meet with up to 6 others (or 2 households) indoors, and even give a (cautious!) hug. But for some, perhaps those who have been shielding or are feeling anxious, these new freedoms may lead to further anxiety – will I be safe if I venture into unknown territory? The rise of the Indian variant of the virus is a source of concern at present and who knows exactly what will happen to the proposed date for the ending of restrictions on 21 June?
In the face of ongoing uncertainty, it is good to be reminded by the author of Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He will not change, even though things continue to change around us. As we all continue to adjust in our different ways to coming out of lockdown, may I remind you that you are very welcome to attend services at St.Mary’s when you feel comfortable to do so. We are working hard to maintain a covid secure environment and if we all play our part in that by following the protocols in place regarding mask wearing and appropriate social distancing, we can continue to keep each other, and those visiting for services, safe. Currently we have about 10 people attending both our Sunday 8am and Wednesday 10 am services, 30 people attending at Sunday 10am, and a further 10 logging in on Zoom (thanks to our broadband finally being installed at the end of March!). But we do have room for more at every service, so feel free to join us when you are ready (and register using Eventbrite if you wish to come to the 10 am Sunday service – details elsewhere in the magazine).
As mentioned in the last magazine, we had our Easter Prayer and Gift Weekend at the beginning of April. I am delighted to report that this raised around £11,000 (including Gift Aid to be reclaimed) to help replace income we are expecting to lose this year due to the implications of coronavirus. So thank you very much to all those who responded. At the end of April, we held our APCM in church and had a good attendance of about 30 people. The PCC have since consulted with members of the church regarding proposals for payment of parish share and the proposed extension/car park – thank you to all who returned their questionnaires. These will have been talked about at the PCC on 19 May and the PCC will be in touch with people further as a result. Do please keep praying for wisdom for the PCC as it considers these important matters affecting the life of our church.
Finally, please do come to our Summer Fair on Saturday 3 July. We hope for a fine day and the opportunity to be able to freely mix with others in our community as we raise much needed funds for the church (should the fair be unable to go ahead on July 3, we will reschedule it for later in the year instead). Keep an eye out for further details!
With my very best wishes to you and to your loved ones.
Take care and stay safe
Pioneer Team Rector
Spring is most definitely in the air, and with the daffodils and crocuses out, we are reminded of nature springing back to life. This fits in well with the message of Easter which we celebrate this month, that after death comes resurrection. The easing of the national lockdown restrictions and the decision to reopen St.Mary’s for public worship gives that theme an added poignancy this year (see details elsewhere in the magazine of how to register for our main services using Eventbrite). As I write this, I am also very hopeful that our broadband will eventually have been installed in our church building and we can share our services online for those who do not feel comfortable attending worship yet.
As well as reopening for worship, the Easter weekend has also been earmarked by the PCC as a Prayer and Gift weekend. For those readers of the magazine who are on the church electoral roll and/or Church Suite (our church database), you will by now (I hope) have received details about this. To explain this briefly, St.Mary’s has been badly affected financially by the impact of coronavirus this past year. Our building has been closed for worship for 6 months and this has not only affected our cash income via the collection plate, but also our non- gift aid envelopes and standing orders, as well as fee income from weddings and funerals. Last year, we received £20,000 less income than normal, and whilst this was offset by the receipt of a generous legacy, we expect a further £10,000 drop in income this year. The PCC are therefore asking people to firstly pray about our financial situation. The church will be open for prayer on Maundy Thursday between 7.00-10.00 pm, on Good Friday and Easter Eve between 10.00 am – 12 noon, and on Easter Sunday between 8.00 am – 12 noon. If you can’t make it to church in person, please do pray at one of these times at home. Secondly, we are asking people to give generously what they can to help us. Maybe, like me, you have saved money this past year by not being able to go away on holiday as planned, to go to the cinema or theatre, or out for meals? Could you give some of what you may have saved back to the church? If you have received details about the weekend, please return your response form with your gift to church at one of the times mentioned above, or put it in the postbox outside the church, or simply post it back to us. If you haven’t received details, a copy of the appeal leaflet is enclosed with this magazine.
Finally, on 25 April at 11.15 a.m., we have our Annual Parochial Church Meeting in church. This is our yearly opportunity to reflect upon the life of St.Mary’s and to elect new wardens, assistant wardens, PCC and Deanery Synod members. If you are interested in standing, please do speak to Lynn Parish or myself. There will also be an opportunity to receive an update on the proposed extension/car park and the PCC would welcome hearing your views about this as to how we move this forward together. The church electoral roll is also now open once again though it closes on 3 April, so please do contact Jean Lawrence (our electoral roll officer) asap at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone her on 710606 if you would like her to send you an application form.
With my very best wishes to you and to your loved ones for a very Happy Easter
Take care and stay safe
Pioneer Team Rector
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ST Mary's Church of England
Liverpool Road, Great Sankey,
Warrington WA5 1RE