Coronavirus Updates

November 2020

Dear Friends,

Today is the first day of the latest lockdown and I wanted to write to you all to let you know what is happening at church for the next month or so.

In line with Government guidance we have stopped all of the services we have been doing in the church building on Wednesday mornings and Sunday evenings. We will continue recording our Sunday morning service which is available every Sunday on YouTube at 1015 followed by zoom coffee after the service. From this Sunday 8th November we will be Zooming our evening service for the first time and you are welcome to join us. At the moment we are working our way through the Prayer Course with Pete Greig. I am really being challenged by this course and am enjoying the discussions and worship. Each session stands alone so don’t be put off if you have missed the first couple of sessions.

All the links to these services can be found on your notice sheet, on the website and usually on Facebook too.

We are also looking at doing the Wednesday service via a phone connection so people can join us in worship from home using their own phones. Watch this space as we get our heads around new ways of doing things!

We are being encouraged as churches across our nation to come together and pray at 6pm every evening and more information on this initiative can be found in the notices.

The church will be open for prayer on Wednesday mornings from 0930-1100hrs and you will be able to contact someone in the church office on Mon, Wed and Fri mornings or you can get in touch with me at the vicarage. We will also be continuing zoom prayer at 8pm on Monday evenings and Explorers and Pathfinders will continue on zoom too for our younger church family members.

Please may I encourage you to keep in touch with one another and let us know if you are anyone else needs a bit of extra support, practical or prayer support. Heather and Ruth are planning some short term small groups for people who may like to link in to a group while we are in these strange times and you can find more information about these in the notices.

This weekend the church will be open from 1100-1300 and 1400-1600 on Sat and 1400-1600 on Sunday for our Remembering Weekend. You are welcome to come in and pray. There are some prayer stations for adults and for children too. One of us will be there to welcome you.

We are beginning to plan Christmas and if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you! Thank you already for your generosity in providing items for the food hampers. Donations can be left in the vicarage porch or in the church office. We are also collecting Shoe boxes and the deadline for these has been pushed back to the beginning of December due to the lockdown. These can be left in the church porch too.

Thank you for everything you are doing to support us as we lead the church in these changing times. Stay safe and look after yourselves and those around you.

May you know Gods peace and love

Jo x

 

September 2020

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your patience and encouragement as we work out how to take the church forward in these frustrating and confusing days.

I had hoped that this letter to you all would be about reopening the church for Sunday Morning worship but sadly, in the light of rising Covid 19 levels and ongoing changes to the rules about what we can and cannot do, we have decided that the safest thing to do is to continue with online services for now.

Despite our best efforts on Sunday (and hours of preparation, huge thanks to Ian and Marcella) we were unable to live stream the morning Ordination service but we are hoping that all of the technical difficulties have now been sorted out and that this is something we can begin very soon. This will mean that we can be live on Sundays and more people can be involved in leading our worship.

It will also mean that when things settle down again we will be ready to open up on Sunday mornings and stream the service at the same time so people can choose to come in or to stay at home for the time being.

Unless anything changes we are going to continue with our Wednesday morning service at 1030-1100. Ruth is playing the organ for us so even though we can’t sing yet we can enjoy her playing. We are sharing communion every other week at this service.

We will also be continuing our Sunday evening reflective service which has been a lovely space to come into God’s presence and share our lives and worship with one another.

Both of these services are carefully planned and set up so they are very safe to attend and there is plenty of space to accommodate more people, so if you want to give it a try do come along.

In other news Ros is now back with us two days a week and is working with Heather on streaming assemblies and they are both going in to schools to work with some of the children in small groups to build their confidence after such an up and down year.

Ruth is developing an online prayer course and that will be happening soon and is overseeing the evening service. We are all learning how to work together as a team and in an environment where best laid plans need to be changed at short notice. Sadly we have had to suspend the Fire Pit and Picnic Praise but we have other ideas up our sleeves.

Do keep checking the news sheet for any updates and if you want any more information do call the office on Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings or contact Jo.

We continue to pray for you all at Morning Prayer and hope that you are finding new ways to draw close to God, I am still enjoying sitting in the church garden in the sunshine and praying for the people and the parish as they go by and the interesting conversations I have when people stop to chat.

Every blessing,

Jo and the team


20 August 2020

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much to all of you who have responded to our survey. The feedback has
been really helpful, encouraging and challenging.

In trying to find a way forward where we can safely begin to bring things back into the
church building, this is the plan for September.

We will continue to stream the 1030 morning service on Youtube. On Sunday afternoons in
September we are going to begin Picnic Praise for our families. This will be a short,
interactive service with stories, activities and music on the church lawn (weather permitting)
or at the back of church followed by snacks and drinks (which you will have to bring).
Alongside this, Ros, Heather and Ruth will be developing a short Sunday Service for the
children which can be watched at any time and will be linked to the theme for that day so
we are all learning about the same thing!

Starting on Sunday 13 th September we will have a Sunday Evening Service with a reflection
linked to the reading for the day and conversation. There will be music too but no singing
just yet and we will be meeting in the church hall so we have space to distance. We will also
need to wear masks for all services inside church.

We will continue opening the church for private prayer on Monday evening from 2000-2100
and on Wednesday from 0900-1030, followed by a short Service of the Word at 1030-1100.
We will also continue the Firepit on a Saturday evening, as long as the weather permits or it
gets too dark, from 1900-2100, bring a drink and a chair and come and toast marshmallows
and watch the sun go down.

We have made huge efforts to keep in touch with people during the lockdown but
understand that people are still feeling isolated. If you are struggling in any way then do
please let us know and we would love to spend some time with you (either over the phone
or socially distanced). Please can I encourage all of us to reach out to people who may need
some ongoing extra support as we continue to be affected by Covid 19.

We hope to begin to share Holy Communion (bread only) at some of our services very soon
and are now able to bring home communion to people. If you would like to receive
communion then do let us know and we would be happy to chat with you about this.
If you are hoping to get to know a few more people, maybe people you have met at zoom
coffee, this would be a great time to join a small group. Please contact the office and we will
be very happy to put you in touch with one.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us keep things
going and discover new ways of ‘being’ church, especially our musicians and technical team.
With best wishes

Jo and the Team.


13 July 2020

Dear Church Family,

I want to keep you all up to date with where we are up to with opening the church for prayer and worship.

After talking together with our team of Leaders and Preachers and consulting the PCC and the church wardens we think the best way to take things forward is this.

We will continue to worship online on Sundays until September when we will review what is happening with Covid 19 and any potential spikes in infections as things begin to open up. With the current guidelines whilst we can open for worship we can’t sing, sit or have coffee together.

In the light of this and because we simply couldn’t have everyone in (we think our maximum is between 50-60 people) and because children’s activities and movement will have to be limited and it would be necessary to clean between each service we feel that it is easier, safer and more inclusive to continue with St Marks at Home.

This will be reviewed during August and we will let you know when things will change.

We would like to offer a simple Service of the Word, especially for the more vulnerable members of our congregation, and those who can’t join us online, on Wednesday morning from 1030-11am. This will be a simple liturgy, with a short sermon and prayers and hopefully some organ music. We hope to offer communion as well at a later stage. The church will continue to be open for private prayer on Monday evenings from 8-9pm and on Wednesday mornings from 9-10.30am.

We have done a careful risk assessment and will do everything in our power to make the church a safe place to come to but there will always be some risk and if you feel uncomfortable or unable to come then we completely respect your position. You are very welcome to wear face masks to the service and hand sanitiser will be provided. Seating will be spaced at two metres apart and we would ask you to come in through the car park entrance and leave through the south door (unless you are unable to climb the steps). Everything will be clearly marked and there will be a sides person to show you where you can sit. You will have to leave the church straight after the service finishes but there are lovely benches which are well spaced in the church garden where you can have a chat if you would like to.

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions we would be happy to answer them so do get in touch by phone or email with the office or with Jo or one of the church wardens. We really want to hear from more people about how we take things forward and we would love your thoughts and ideas about what might change about church or worship or outreach after this strange time we have all been through. To help with this we will be sending out a survey next week and would be very grateful if as many people as possible would complete it for us.

With much love and every blessing.

Jo and the team.


 

Reverend Joanna Parker

St Marks Church, Leamington Spa


24 June 2020

Where we are up to…

You may have heard the announcement yesterday that we can begin to worship again in church. This is great news and I am so looking forward to us all being back together again.
However, there are still restrictions in place which will have a big impact on our worship, and we are waiting for more guidance from the Church of England as to how we can take things forward.

It seems likely that we will not be able to sing together, and I am not sure how we will be able to share communion either, and we will not be able to share refreshments. Our numbers will be restricted and we will still be observing the 2 metre rule (as we have the space to do this in church).

Added to this, the possibility of a second wave of the virus may change any plans we make to move forward.

All of us involved in preaching and leading will be meeting to discus the way forward, with close consultation with the church wardens. So watch this space and we will try to keep you informed as things progress. This will not be a return to church as we know it just yet, and it may not happen in July. In the meantime we will keep our new online presence on Sundays and during the week and we hope to develop more online worship opportunities for our children over the summer.

Please pray for us as we plan and prepare and we will continue to pray for you all.


As many of you know by now our Sunday services and midweek meetings have been suspended. We love meeting together but we love you more, and want to ensure that you all stay as healthy as possible.

Check out our facebook page for news at https://www.facebook.com/StMarksLSpa/

A weekly service is streamed on Sundays at 10.30am. The link can be found on our Facebook page and usually on the weekly notice sheet. If you would like to receive the notice sheet by email please contact the church office (office@st-marks.net) 

In the meantime, keep praying, keep singing and keep looking out for each other and your neighbours. I have a feeling that this could become an exciting time of doing church differently, of learning new things about prayer and service. In Isaiah 43 we are told not to fear, God is with us, and will not leave us. The chapter goes on.... 'Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert'. I think for many of us this time feels scary and unknown. Even in the most barren places God makes a way for us, gives us water in dry lands. May you know God's presence and power as you encounter Him in new ways in the coming weeks. 

Information about the wider church can be found on the Diocesan Website  https://www.coventry.anglican.org/  

Jo x


 

I never imagined in over 40 years of church going and 13 years as a priest that I would ever have to lock our church and not allow people in. It goes against everything I believe about the inclusive welcome we want to show to all people at all times.

This is a unique time in our history however, and we must do anything we can to try and hold back this onslaught of this virus. So the church is closed, but it’s people are out there and doing amazing things to help people in our communities.

Do pray for our frontline workers, carers, doctors and other health professionals, shop workers and all those who are keeping things going, postal workers, and council staff. Pray for those who are frightened and lonely and pray for our leaders who are facing decision making that is unprecedented.

Look after yourselves and call us if we can do anything to support you. 01926 421004 (ext 1)