Returning to our buildings.. and St Mary’s clock

We have now received the guidelines from the Church of England in preparation for opening our churches for worship and I met with the church wardens and office manager that same day to go through them and devise a plan.

Firstly, some good news. The easing of restrictions has meant that we can start to wind the clock at St Marys church from this weekend! It has been much missed by local residents and it will be lovely to hear it ring again.

Secondly, good news but complicated. We are opening our churches for public worship from 12th July. However, the guidelines from the government and national church are very clear that during this phase of our return to ministry things will be different so that we can minimise as much risk as possible. Restrictions will include:

– Family ‘bubbles’ being seated together but 2m apart from others.

-Short acts of worship that will mirror the content of our Zoom services.

-We will not be able to offer tea/coffee and people will be directed in and out of the church by a steward.

-We will not be able to sing hymns.

-Because there is a limit on the number of people we can hold, and for ‘track and trace’ purposes, you will be required to book a space online or telephone the office if you are unable to get online.

There are lots more things that we will put into place over the next few days and these will be communicated this weekend.

We plan to begin by opening St Marys Walton for worship on Sunday 12th July at 9am for Morning Worship and online/telephone booking for this will begin on Monday. We will then alternate, with St Martin’s Trimley, hosting the service the week after.

I do understand that many people may well decide that they do not want to return to worship in our churches yet or could be shielding. For this reason, we will be keeping our 10am Zoom service going for the foreseeable future and the 5pm ‘Sunday Service’ via Felixstowe Radio with Rev Chris.

I will keep you updated with any further developments as and when it happens. Please be patient with us if you try to contact the office or Rev Paul as you may not get an immediate response. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure that our return to the buildings are done safely.

Please continue to pray for our Zoom meetings in July and for all those involved in opening our churches once again. Full details will be released in the Connect this weekend.

Rev Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join in our weekly meet ups throughout July

Dear friends,

It is very exciting this week to be able to announce that Trimley church can be opened for private prayer! If you are a visual person like me, you will have missed praying in the beautiful spaces of our parish churches.  

Although the lockdown is easing, it will be some time before we can hold services of worship again, and communion maybe even further away.  We will continue to follow government and diocesan advise.  

When we do start to return, people talk of the ‘new normal’. It is clear that we are emerging into a different world and for us as churches it will present us with an opportunity to engage with our parishes in different ways. During the lockdown phase, our services both on Zoom and Radio have reached people who would not normally come into our church buildings.  

I am also your new Rector! Having been in post for six months now, most of this time has been under lockdown so I have not been able to get to know you as much as I would have liked and plan how we might work together in the years to come.  

We have some questions answer, such as;

As we return back for worship, how do we continue to connect with those people?
Where is God already working in our benefice, and where is he leading us in the future?

These are big questions, that will dictate how and what we do as we return back to the ‘new normal’. Our PCC’s and Ministry team are committed to seeking out God’s will for our churches, but we are really missing a vital component… you!

As we move forward together, it is important that we all journey this path together.  We need to reflect on scripture, pray together and ponder where God might be leading us next. Each of our churches are unique and offer something different, but for this part of the journey we need to walk together as a benefice.

I am inviting you to join with four sessions in July that we are calling ‘Growing in God Together’. It will be an hour of pondering on ‘The Great Commission’ from Matthews Gospel and include guided prayer on our future.  

To ensure that as many people can join in from our churches as possible, we are offering them in the following ways:

Our sessions will be held once a week via Zoom. Joining instructions will be sent out nearer the time.  If you do not like video conferencing, you can call into the session using a freephone number.  If those options do not work, we can email you a copy of the session that you can do at home and send in responses.  Finally, we can post a copy of the session through the door if you do not have email.  

The Zoom sessions are every Tuesday in July as follows:

7th July

14th July

21st July

28th July

7.30pm -8.30pm, with the option for chat afterwards if you want until 9pm.  

I hope that you feel like you are able to join in. You may be feeling that this does not apply to you... but it does!  Please let Georgina know by emailing her  that you would be part of this discernment, and she will send you joining instructions nearer the time. Office contact details are at the end of the Connect.

Rev Paul

Reflection by Wendy Fellingham

Matthew 10:24-39 + Jeremiah 20: 7-13

Apparently, Nancy Reagan once said – A woman is like a tea bag. It’s only when she is hot water that you realise how strong she is.

I’m sure this applies to men too, but you might want to agree with her???

In our Jeremiah reading he is having a moan … he had been asked by God to be a prophet and he is finding it tough, tougher than he thought perhaps, tougher than he thought was fair ….

Then in Matthew we see a similar theme – Jesus is talking to the 12 as he sends them out …. ‘it will be tough; you will meet opposition’ he is saying but  ‘just keep in mind that I am the one sending you,so when this does happen, don’t take it personally it is Me & my Father they are objecting to.’

Jesus urges them to be bold and proclaim what He has been doing & telling them, to pass on what they have learned and experienced.

We know with hindsight that this was indeed going to be a challenging commission. The early church faced many difficulties and were scattered to far ends of the earth, mainly because of persecution. This was not the disaster they may have imaginedthough … it was instrumental in taking this new gospel out to others.

I can’t help but think perhaps this is what is happening today??

We are caught up in a time of unprecedented difficulty and we are being driven out too – out of our comfort zones of; meeting for Sunday worship, sticking to the same patterns, same methods, same patterns of worship, same liturgy, same activities.

This is not the disaster we imagine either ….

We are being called to think outside of the box, to look at what we are learning, that we might not normally have considered.

Called to a new way of working perhaps …

What might that look like? I think we are being dropped some large hints:

Some of us who are not key workers have more time on our hands – we have been able, forced maybe, to slow down.

When going to the supermarket – we have been reminded not to take anything for granted, i.e. flour. I don’t know about you? but this caused me to be more grateful for what I do have.

We have seen more people looking out for each other. Chatting ‘over the fence’ getting shopping. The local band of volunteers –  Felixstowe Helping Hands & so much more.

We have found different ways of working as a church, ie Zoom, Radio, email and even snail mail – reaching more people, different people, some who would not normally go into any church. Not going to the far ends of the earth physically perhaps, but by technology.

Then there’s the little things – like a note of encouragement through the door, chatting to those we don’t know very well via Zoom coffee time.

This has been a steep learning curve for all of us – just as there was for the disciples in our reading but Jesus asks us to persevere, to learn from Him, knowing we don’t do any of this on our own.

We are precious to Him, & God notices even the little things, like 2 sparrows, we are so precious that He knows us through and through, right down to the number of hairs on our head.

Jesus says, ‘So don’t be afraid; you are worth many sparrows.’

It’s been a bumpy ride recently and the road ahead, as we find new ways of being church, may still be bumpy, but he walks with us.

Remember – it’s only when we are in hot water, we realise, with God’s help, how strong we are.

 

Prayer Poem by Nick Fawcett

Lord you don’t promise us comfort and wealth,

freedom from sickness, immaculate health:

faith brings no pledge of exemption from pain,

troubles oppress us again and again,

tragedies cause us to grieve and despair

sometimes their burden too painful to bear;

visions are shattered and hopes turned to dust,

prayer seems in vain, though we still try to trust.

Yet though such trials turn out to be true,

still I believe you will help me get through there by my side when I can’t carry on,

offering strength when all other has gone.

Even in sorrow you somehow bring joy

peace that no trials can ever destroy.

Light in the darkness continues to shine

turning the water of life into wine.

 

Wendy.

St Martin’s Trimley to open for private prayer

We are very pleased to announce that Trimley church will be open for private prayer on the following days from 23rd June:

Tuesdays.   10.30am-1pm

Saturdays  10.30am-1pm

Visitors will be able to enjoy the space of our beautiful church , pray and light a candle. We have procedures in place that reflect the most recent government and diocesan guidelines. These will be displayed as you enter the building. At St Martin’s somebody will be around to help if needed.

St Mary’s Walton is currently having building works done on the west side of the church. Once this is complete we hope to open for private prayer here as well. Watch this space!

I know that many people, including myself, have missed the quiet and sanctuary of our churches. Please do feel free to visit St Martin’s wherever you live in our benefice and beyond.

Rev Paul

 

Reflection on Matthew 9:35-10:8 by Annie Woodard

I want to begin by looking at what precedes this passage from Matthew’s gospel. In the two previous chapters we read the following headings: “Jesus heals a man with leprosy”, “ Jesus restores two demon-possessed men”, “Jesus forgives and heals a paralysed man”, “Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman” and “Jesus heals the blind and the mute”. And now our reading begins with these words: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness”.
What picture does this conjure up for you? Can you imagine what the atmosphere must have been like for those around Jesus? We can understand, can’t we, why people crowded around him. If you were ill or had a family member who was, you would want to bring them to this man who had the power to heal. If you weren’t ill, you would want to see what all the fuss was about for yourself. And we know that there were many in need. The next verse tells us that the crowds were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” and there were so many of them that Jesus describes them as a plentiful harvest. And his reaction was to have compassion. Jesus felt the distress of the people, his heart went out to them and he was moved by their plight.
Matthew’s gospel mentions the word compassion at least four times in relation to Jesus’ feelings towards other people. He felt compassion for the crowds who were hungry (14:14 and 15:32) and he felt compassion for the two blind men at the side of the road. (20:32).
But Jesus doesn’t stop at feeling compassion. He acts on it. He feeds the thousands and he restores sight to the blind and, in this passage which we’re looking at today, he prays for workers to reap the harvest, which is plentiful. He takes practical steps and he sends out his disciples to proclaim the message of the kingdom of heaven and to heal the sick, raise the dead and drive out demons. He gives them authority to continue his mission. He does not tell them to threaten anyone with God’s punishment but instructs them to show compassion and to show what God can do for them.

So, just as Jesus commissioned his disciples, he also commissioned us. In chapter 28 of Matthew’s gospel, after his resurrection, he tells the disciples – “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…..”
We are given authority to continue Jesus’ mission.
We may feel very unworthy or under qualified for this task! I know that I do. But we can take heart. Jesus didn’t send out those in authority, those who were already in positions of power or those who were the well-educated. He sent out a small group of twelve ordinary people; fishermen, tax collectors, even the one who was to betray him; a group of men all with their own shortcomings. But Jesus knew what they could achieve with the Spirit of God working through them. And, remember Jesus sent them out, at first, as a small group to the lost sheep of Israel. He didn’t send them out to try and conquer the world. It was a case of “think big, start small!” And Wow! Look what they started! Today millions of people all over the world worship and trust in God and follow a merciful Saviour.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel a bit overwhelmed when I consider the needs of the world; poverty, hunger, homelessness and sickness. It’s hard to know where to start or how to help. But maybe, just maybe, we’re right where God wants us to be. Our mission is right here in Walton and Trimley. We can be his disciples in our little part of the world.
So, I invite us all to ask ourselves – Where and who in our community is in need of Christian compassion and what are some of the actions, we can take to exercise compassion rather than just feel it?

Annie.

Rector’s Update

Dear friends,

It has been a busy week as the government announced formally that churches can open from 15th June for private prayer. Rest assured, our churches will be open on some days for private prayer once we have processed and arranged for the necessary cleaning and preparation that is needed to make entry as safe as possible. St Mary’s is currently having building work completed on the exterior and St Martin’s some remedial work on the tower so this may delay opening until this work has been completed. I know it may be tempting if you are a key holder to go into our churches and some of you have, but can I request during this time you resist and do not enter the building whilst we make preparations to open. Once we are open, please restrict yourself to the public opening times. We have one nominated person at each church who can enter to check the building so if you have an urgent requirement please contact them to discuss and they may be able to help:

Georgina South for Walton & Andrew King for Trimley.

It is clear that it will take some time for us to get back into our churches for worship. But once we do, we will begin a new chapter in our churches history. What will it look like? Where is God leading us, at this moment, together?

God has called us to be with you in this beautiful place for a reason and we will in time embark together on a new area of ministry and mission for our churches. I am excited about this, as I hope you are, and I want to begin in prayer, and continue in prayer as we work together into the future.

At the moment I am planning a series of sessions via Zoom and the telephone which I hope will allows us to study the bible, pray and discern God’s will for our benefice together. I hope that from those sessions we can get a strong sense of his direction and that we can come up with a vision that we can work towards.  This won’t be something we then put on a letter heading or an email and forget about, it will be something that all our mission and ministry will focus on in the years to come.

More details will come on this later, but I hope you will feel able to join in, the sessions will be open to everybody. In the meantime, I call upon us to begin praying now and ask him;

What is God’s plan for us together in this place?
How is he asking us to join with him to make that happen?

Please send any thoughts and words you might have on this to me via email.

I know things are strange and difficult at the moment. In amongst it all, it has also been nice not to have so many meetings and duties that somehow can get in the way of our mission together. Judging by the emails and calls that I get in response to my radio shows, I am convinced that we are about to enter a new era, and It is exciting to think that we can all be a part of this.

Stay safe and may God bless you,
Rev Paul

Reflection on Matthew 28:16-20

What an inspiring passage for today, way back in September last year, the last time I spoke to St Mary’s a lot of things have happened, Wendy’s cancer treatment got a lot more involved than we were expecting, these times we are all experiencing now, who would have thought at Christmas, that by Easter the country would have all but closed down and we would be living a life in quarantine, that most shops, cinemas and theatres, hairdressers, and barbers, pubs, and of course church buildings would all be closed, working from home, being furloughed, or worse not having a job to rely on

What is normal these days? We are taking the first tentative steps back to normal, although there are those who are saying that the government are moving too fast or too slow to release the lock down, so, in these days what does this passage say to us. The is a great hope contained in these words, known as the great commissioning, this is Jesus speaking to the remaining disciples, after his crucifixion, giving them instructions to continue his work, throughout the world. Now this is a little insignificant part of the world, how can this message grow the encompass the whole world from 11 people then, to the billions of people today, and remember back then, they could not go viral on You Tube or the internet, there was no social media to pass the word on, it travelled from person to person, I suppose that there is a sort of comparison to these days, butpeople were infected not with a deadly virus, they were infected with the word and the love of God.

As a church we face unprecedented times now, and we have an opportunity, to as this pandemic eases and this start to go back to normal, what will be the new normal for our church. Is this the time for the proverbial new broom of change to sweep through our dusty old churches and now go forward clean and refreshed? It’s been interesting in this time to see how the church has adapted to bring the word of God to people, you have seen that church, as an establishment can actually change and adapt, who would of thought of that!

Although, the title of this passage is the great commissioning, I look to the final words Jesus says, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” this is the great promise, these are the words that Matthew choses to end his Gospel, these reassuring and impowering words of him who came to earth to be “God with us”.

We as a church need to, as government guidelines suggest, we need to keep the R factor as low as possible and well under 1, with regards to the pandemic, but wouldn’t it be good if we could by spreading the word and love of God, our churcheswould have an R factor of over 1 or more, we need to showthe love of God that is so evident in this world, I pray that this message of redemption, love and healing, spreads throughout our town, and country.

We have a song after this reflection called “I will follow”, is this a message to this church, by church I mean the people who assemble in the name of Christ, to go forward reenergised, to follow Christ into the mysteries of the future, to learn from the teachings of the past. Remember that our God is the same, yesterday, today, and for all our tomorrows.

So, church, and those who are listening to this reflection, who are searching for meaning in this word, what are we going to do? We have been given this commission, Jesus said in verse 18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

 

Dave Smith

Lay Pastor, Walton & Trimley

We never closed !

As the government continues to relax lockdown restrictions we still do not have a date when we can open our buildings. The diocese have issued guidance on what will be required when we do, including cleaning and other practical measures that will need to be in place for the first phase. The first phase will likely be that the church is open for private prayer on certain days with the addition of small weddings and funerals. Once the announcement is made we have a plan to reopen our benefice churches in place, when it is safe to do so, and I will update this page with details of that. In the meantime I urge you not enter the churches if you have keys, only designated people are able to enter and check the buildings. If you have an urgent need, please contact them :

Andrew King for Trimley

Georgina South for Walton including halls.

I am giving thanks to God for the way we have adapted and found new ways of worshipping during this crises. The Zoom services and radio will continue for some time and the route back to church will likely be a long and complicated process. In the meantime, we are very much open !!!  Thank you everybody for all you are doing.

Rev Paul

**Update** The government have released today that we can open for private prayer from 15th June. It will take a short while to work out what this means for our churches and I will update here once we have a plan.

 

 

Reflecting on Pentecost

A reflection on Pentecost by Margaret White 

On Sunday the Church celebrated Pentecost – known as the birthday of the Christian church. . And what a spectacular start!  Only a week or so earlier Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I wonder what that meant to them, what they expected as they gathered in a room in Jerusalem? The Bible tells us that there came a sound of violent wind filling the house, tongues of flame on each of them as they spoke in strange languages.  Spectacular, or what?

But that wasn’t the end of it.  Jerusalem was filled with Jewish pilgrims from around the Mediterranean there for the festival..They heard the wind.  They heard the disciples speaking in their languages, clearly understandable , and wondered if this group of Galilean fishermen had had too much to drink!

And finally, Peter, Peter who had  been through such a roller-coaster of events and emotions stood up and with new confidence and power preached his first sermon.

Spectacular or what?

But God’s spectacular events, like Moses and the burning bush, or Paul’s dramatic conversion, are never about the event itself.  The point of them is the spreading of God’s message in the world, and the events of that Pentecost, and every Pentecost since then, have the same purpose.  The disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit from heaven, so that they could tell people about the invitation to participate in God’s purposes and his love for the world.  The crowd of pilgrims heard Peter’s message. God’s Spirit would be freely and generously poured out on all people, young, old, men and women. Peter demonstrated the confidence and energy that the Holy Spirit brings to those who respond to his call.  I like to think that those listening pilgrims would return to their communities with their memories of this day, Spirit-driven and Spirit-led.

God still  longs to pour out his Spirit on everyone – all we have to do is ask. Are we prepared for the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit to give us a new understanding of God’s call?

And do we as the church have enough Spirit-driven, Spirit-filled new life and energy to continue to build on the positive changes we’ve seen over the last few months, a new awakening in matters of faith, a new opportunity to ponder the big questions,  a revived gratitude for unity and community among churches and neighbours?

Happy birthday, Church