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
It’s been a while since my last letter and I am wondering how you are all finding the current national lockdown? Things perhaps feel harder since I last wrote though it does appear that there may be some respite on the horizon for Christmas before another potential lockdown in January once again. When will this all end, you may well be wondering? The announcements made in the past two weeks regarding the development of vaccines do at least offer us some hope and a way out of the current impasse, though of course realistically it is going to take a number of months before a nationwide vaccine programme is implemented. So what is going to sustain us in the meantime?
Advent is a season of watching and waiting. Not just for the birth of Jesus but for the day when He will one day return again and make all things new. So it is the prospect of Jesus’ arrival into the world at Christmas, and of His Second Coming, that can sustain us now in the present. Jesus came into a context where people were crying out for hope, hope from the oppression of the Roman occupation. And although his arrival didn’t liberate people from the Romans, it did offer them a new way of living, and loving, in the midst of their struggles. And what was true for people then can be true for people now. We struggle with the pain and the problems of the pandemic – we are crying out for relief. Jesus doesn’t wave a magic wand to take us out of the situation but He does provide us with the resources to live, and love, through it.
And there are many ways, of course, that churches up and down the country have been reaching out to others in their communities to help them through this time. One excellent way that we have developed as a team is the telephone befriending service. There are many in our area who are lonely and isolated at present, and we now have more requests for help than our existing volunteers can cope with. So, if you could offer an hour or two each week to ring someone in our locality who would like to receive a call, please let Heather Copperwheat, our scheme administrator, know. Heather can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So as we look towards the arrival, and the second coming, of Jesus this Advent, may I encourage us all to look out beyond ourselves to the needs of others. Yes, we need to pay attention to our own needs too but we are also to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. It’s as we do that, so we can discover the joy and fulfilment that Jesus came to bring, and experience something of His life in all its fulness.
Do continue to take care, and to stay safe. With my best wishes and prayers.
Jeremy Tear, Pioneer Team Rector
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ST Mary's Church of England
Liverpool Road, Great Sankey,
Warrington WA5 1RE