From the Vicar
I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on various developments at St. Mary’s since I last wrote two months ago
Firstly, by the time you read this, we will have resumed our Sunday morning 10 am services in church. It is good to now be worshipping in our building three times per week once again and if you can join us on a Wednesday or Sunday it would be lovely to see you. I am very conscious that some of you do not feel comfortable returning to church at present, however, and therefore the PCC has agreed that we will continue our online zoom services at 10am on Sunday as well. To enable this to happen, we have also agreed that Kathryn Hayward will have permission (with the Bishop’s approval) to lead and preach at both online services and in church. Steve Parish has also kindly agreed to help out, particularly with celebrating communion. This will mean that some Sundays I will be in church at 10am and other Sundays I will be online. In due course, the PCC hopes that we will be able to stream our 10am service to those watching online at home by installing broadband in the building (subject to the relevant permission being granted). We will aim to do this thanks to a generous grant from the Deanery of £1,000 to enable all churches to get their worship going again. This will also prove helpful not only for worship but also for meetings, Lightnings, and be of benefit to all who have a mobile phone!
Secondly, on Sunday October 18th at 11.15/11.30am, we shall be holding our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) in church. This has been postponed from April and is our annual opportunity to review the past calendar year as well as to hear developments for the future. If you wish to attend, please email, or ring me, to book your place (numbers will have to be limited to 30 people at present). I am hoping that we will be able to share with you the latest developments concerning our plans to build an extension onto the west end of the church and introduce a car park into the rear churchyard. There will also hopefully be sample chairs for us to sit on to try out with a view to purchase by the PCC using the money we were given by the Co-op last year. We will also be looking to recruit a new churchwarden (Lynn Parish is willing to re-stand), 8 members of the PCC and 3 Deanery Synod members. If you would like to stand, please complete an election form available at the back of church or ask me to send you one if you will not be in church to do this (the electoral roll is also open for those who wish to have their names added to it). The PCC and Deanery Synod are the means by which we seek to pursue our diocesan vision of being ‘a bigger church making a bigger difference’ so if you are interested in doing that, do step forward or have a word with myself or Lynn Parish first.
Thirdly, we have now completed the retiling of the chancel roof (thanks mainly to a generous gift) and also nearly completed the transformation of the organ chamber into a much-needed storage space. Once the latter work is completed, we will be reinstating the organ into its traditional place underneath the organ pipes. This has taken a long time to achieve and I am very grateful to Lynn Parish for all her hard work in enabling this to happen and for your patience whilst this work has been undertaken
I hope you continue to stay safe and well, and to see you in person or online over the coming months.
Pioneer Team Rector
I wonder how the Prime Minister’s announcement this past week that new Covid restrictions will be in place for the whole country for the next six months has left you feeling? Disillusioned? Despairing? Downhearted? I can well understand if you are feeling any of those things at present, as we have to contend with our own local restrictions in addition. It’s not an easy time for anyone, including those of us who are Christians who have to live with restrictions on how we worship. So, what might our faith have to say to us at present?
Firstly, let us remember that God is with us through whatever we may have to face in life, including coronavirus. As Paul puts it in Romans chapter eight, ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’.
Secondly, we are a people of hope. Not a facile optimism, but a hope that is grounded in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A hope that can sustain us even through the darkest times. As Psalm 33 puts it, ‘We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield’.
Thirdly, we are invited to share the good news of God’s love for us and the hope Jesus gives us with others. Have you thought about inviting a friend, neighbour, family member or work colleague who may be finding life difficult at present to come to church with you or to join one of our online services? Numbers are obviously restricted in our buildings at present but the Christian faith is not restricted to those who currently attend. It is for everyone in our communities – all are welcome, and welcomed by God.
So as we move through this autumn into what could feel like a long hard slog in the months ahead, let’s not despair but rather ‘delight in the Lord’ as Psalm 37 puts it. For by placing our hope in Him, we can find the strength we need to face whatever lies ahead.
Take care and stay safe.
With my best wishes and prayers.
Pioneer Team Rector
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ST Mary's Church of England
Liverpool Road, Great Sankey,
Warrington WA5 1RE