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Helping Hands Hub

Harbour Churches

During this challenging time, your Parish Church has set up a Help Hub to meet needs many will be facing over the coming weeks and months. We can help those who are self-isolating due to illness or vulnerability with:

•     Light shopping
•     Collecting ordered shopping
•     Collecting prescriptions
•     Posting mail
•     Dog walking
•     Regular phone calls as a ‘phone buddy’

If you or someone you know needs help or you would like to volunteer as a ‘helping hand’, please contact:


Parish Office 01243 514057
Birdham & Itchenor 07368 554188
West Wittering 07529 221288

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Prayer & Preaching 22nd March

‘Behold, your Son… Behold… your mother’

“Church is changing.” That’s the official line of the CofE as, in an unprecedented move, Archbishop’s Justin and John announced on Tuesday that until further notice all public acts of worship were to be suspended.

At Harbour Churches we were planning to suspend services and had the announcement been different, I would still not have been prepared to hold public worship in our parish churches.

However, your parish church is STAYING OPEN and we hope that our ancient places of prayer can be for you, and your neighbours, a place where folk can gather individually for prayer and reflection at this time of great need and anxiety.

Also, EVERY SUNDAY from 9am – 12noon each of our Parish Churches will be open for a time of focussed prayer. During this time, you can come and sit at a safe distance and just have those precious moments of prayer in such a special place.

This Sunday, being Mothering Sunday, we invite you to spend 10-15mins praying in church for all of us as we face together the COVID19 pandemic.  The words of the collect seem to have a particular resonance at this time:

God of Love, passionate and strong, tender and careful:
watch over us and hold us all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

We so need to draw close to the God of love who feels so deeply and whose strength – like a mothers’ –  is truly tender and profoundly full of care. In and through this simple prayer, God will watch over us and hold us – but not only us but all those who need us and the world around us. We also invite you to come with a simple flower and add it to what we hope we will be a great posy of prayer for Mothering Sunday which we lift the spirits of those who come in during the week.

The Gospel reading for Sunday is also beautifully resonant. In John 19. 25-27, we encounter Christ speaking out of the cross with such a depth of love for his mother and his best friend. In this incredible moment he brings them together and offers them fullness of life in and through transformed relationships.

Isn’t this what we are being offered out of our COVID19 time of darkness and uncertainty? Can we hear the voice of Jesus say: ‘Be a helping hand and reach out to your neighbour in need – be like a mother to them’?

A lot more than church is changing… We do not know what lies ahead but we do know that whatever the path may be, Jesus has already gone that way for us and if we walk in his steps, they will be the way that leads to life and life in all its fullness.

Please continue to pray for: Claire Ralf, Derrick, Clive, Max, Charlotte, Margaret and Sandra Blyth and those who have recently died and their loved ones: Alex Thavenot and Piers de Berniere-Smart.

The ‘Prayer Phone Friends‘ are also there for you as an encouragement in prayer and will welcome your call.

Assuring you of my prayers and trusting to yours –

Stay safe.


Contact details:
Jonathan, Rector: 07539011579 jonathanswindellsrector@gmail.com

Clare, Parish Administrator: 01243 514057 wwbi.parishoffice@gmail.com

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Stay in Touch

We will be using the newsletter to stay in touch with as many of our community as possible during this period of uncertainty. You already receive the newsletter but do you know someone who might also benefit from being kept in touch.

Ask your friend or neighbour to send an email to the Parish Office, wwbi.parishoffice@gmail.com asking to subscribe and we will add them to the list. They will receive a confirmation email and it is essential that they reply to this in order to be added to the list. We will constantly monitor our list of subscribers in order to ensure that our news is getting out to as many of you as possible.

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WWBI Helping Hands Hub

Dear Friends

We hope to have the Helping Hands Hub up and running by the end of the week through which we aim to meet the basic needs of those who are isolated or on their own.

We now need Helping Hands!

If you are not in the vulnerable age group and remaining in general good health please send by email your name and contact details (landline, mobile and email) and location to the Parish Office wwbi.parishoffice@gmail.com and Lois Smith loissmith1859@gmail.com

This is now URGENT as we anticipate a great many will need the support of “Helping Hands”.

Please consider volunteering and ask others you know, whether they attend church or not, to volunteer.

This is an initiative for everybody in our three villages.

Assuring you of my prayers and trusting to yours.

Harbour Churches

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Self Care

Dear friends

With this horrible virus it is important to take care of your self; having done self-isolation for 6 months with chemo I humbly offer this advice,

  • Keep as active as you can around the house, the Pomodoro Technique is something I have just discovered, you concentrate on ‘working’ for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break, stretch and move as you are able.
  • Eating well to boost your immune system is a positive step you can take to keep well, the list below is excellent.

1. Citrus fruits
2. Zinc in red meat, shell fish, eggs, nuts, whole grains, chick peas
3. Broccoli lightly cooked
4. Ginger
5. Garlic
6. Yoghurt
7. Sunflower seeds
8. Mushrooms especially Shitake
9. Red Peppers
10. Fermented foods like Sauerkraut & miso 

  • Make an effort to dress well, make meals special by using nice china if you can, enjoy slow cooking, it will punctuate the long days

We all have different interests but try to enjoy being at home, look out of the window and count your blessings, the daffodils are out!

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Just Keep Singing

Although Hymns and Everything cannot meet, we can still sing. Once a week, from Friday, Rev Sarah will be sending out a YouTube clip, with words, of a well-known, favourite, ‘Hymn and Everything’ so that we can still sing, still have that sense of joy, togetherness and community, even at a distance!

If you would also like to receive this, please email Sarah on assoc.vicarsarah@gmail.com.

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Very Urgent Letter from the Rector re Coronovirus

Dear Friends

Quite a number are asking ‘what next’ for church life in the light of Covid19 and all that we are hearing nationally and locally. As you know we get advice from the Diocese of Chichester, but we also get advice from the national church and Government – and not always the same! Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility. However, as a Church we are responsible for mitigating risk and following safe practice.

In consultation with Churchwardens and Safeguarding Officers we have drawn up a Parish Continuity Plan in line with national church advice which assesses risks and the churches capacity to resource services and events during this time of Corvid19 pandemic.

Further to this, the decision has been made that as of Sunday 15th March, and until further notice, one act of worship will be offered in West Wittering at 10am, Birdham at 9.30am and Itchenor alternating 8am with 11am. No refreshments will be offered at these services. All other services, church meetings and church run activities held in the church building, St James Centre and Wittering Church Room will be suspended until further notice.  However, we will continue with children’s services e.g. ‘Littles’ and activities until such time as schools close or we are told to stop them.

It has not been easy to come to this decision, but it reflects my very real sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of the congregations committed to my care. We are very blessed to share in active, vibrant and caring churches. I hope the following pastoral and spiritual provisions will give us confidence and encouragement in the days ahead and that Harbour Churches may continue to be a blessing to our communities.

Love of God, love of neighbour – love of self (Mark 12.30 cf)…

This is clearly a time of real anxiety.  Let us not lose sight of God’s love and faithfulness for us and the hope we have in Christ. We can all use this present situation to make the most of additional time at deepen our relation to God in Christ. Be encouraged in prayer and let your prayer be an encouragement to family, friends and neighbours. Look for God’s goodness in the world around and in the acts of courageous loving kindness that will be the blessing of this time. Read a ‘hopeful’ book and maybe avoid ‘those’ newspapers… And don’t forget the love God has for you and the fullness of life which is God’s gift in Jesus.

Don’t get isolated (even if you have to self-isolate)…

This is also a time of great potential loneliness. It’s important to stay connected with other people and to communicate well, even if you have to self-isolate for a while.

So DO pick up the phone and let people know if you have health concerns and especially if you are having to self-isolate. Give folk a call even if you’re well! Please let the Parish Office know and we can be in touch to offer pastoral and practical help and support e.g. prayer, appropriate visiting, shopping, prescriptions and dog walking etc. Very shortly we will be publishing a list of ‘Prayer Phone Friends’. You can call a PPF at anytime to share in prayer and be encouraged – whether you are unwell or not. This is also a situation that reminds us of the value there is in investing time and attention in all our relationships, both within the home (yes – get out the Monopoly!), community and further afield. And remember, a caring voice on the end of the line is so much more meaningful that an email or even a card through the letter box.

Stay physically well…

Turn hand-washing to prayer!  Since we’re all standing at the sink more frequently than usual, why don’t we adopt a prayer focus during our hand-washing routines? Perhaps you could simply pray the Lord’s Prayer or use the time to intercede for a particular person who is scared and vulnerable right now. Currently we can still meet together. We will continue to hold a Sunday service on the Lord’s Day and offer Holy Communion until we are told to stop. Clearly if you are unwell or feel especially vulnerable, you should stay away for now. The writer of Hebrews says: ‘Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, but encouraging one another…’ (10:24-25)

However, before entering the church building or facility we ask that you wash your hands at the place designated and that in church we are careful to keep a ‘safe distance’ (approx. an outstretched arm apart and no less than 1metre). We need to avoid contact e.g. hugs ‘n handshakes and as you know we won’t be having wine at communion. And please no elbow-bumps – they mean you’ll get too close!

The church leadership are continually reviewing the situation and we’ll give you ‘stay well’ updates as we get them.

Stay spiritually  well…

Prescient but true, the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is made up of two characters, one that means ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’. A crisis is an opportunity to deepen our own spiritual lives and also to live more openly the good news we proclaim. People all around us are asking deeper questions than usual, because everything that previously seemed secure is being shaken (health, economy, jobs and their normal routines). What words of hope and encouragement will be our good news for them? Is it time to talk faith?

We’ll also be giving information of inspiring websites and Apps for prayer and spiritual guidance and support. And don’t forget that when we pray to our Father in Heaven we are in fellowship with all the community of saints across time and space.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbours – practically.

There’s so much we can do just as we are to be a practical support to those around us. As a church we are aiming to offer a ‘Helping Hub’ with volunteers able to meet a range of practical needs but please don’t wait – do what you can, how you can, when you can. However, with our church families being 90% over 70 themselves, we are an at risk group and very vulnerable. So, yes, let’s be loving in word and deed but please, please, be WISE in works and do not do yourself harm in trying to help. If you are a less vulnerable member of the church family this is a time when we (‘cause I am) can rise to the challenge of self-giving service.

And last but be no means least….

In the Psalms we read:  ‘The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.’ (46:1-2). And in Christ, God has promised to make all things – even these present challenges – work together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). We have a long way to go yet and things may get very difficult for a great many. Nevertheless, we have a Gospel to proclaim and it is good news to women and men in all the world.

I’d like to share with you a testimony that I read in a letter sent out by Emmaus Rd Church, Guildford – whose advice I have found so helpful.

A follower of Jesus in Wuhan, China, where the Coronavirus began, just wrote this on her 48th day locked-down in her family apartment:

“Here is GOOD NEWS from the epicentre of the coronavirus: Our family life has never been better. We’ve learned how to accept from others. Spring here is absolutely stunning. My cooking has got way more creative! We take naps in the middle of the day. We’ve all been reading so much more. We had church by internet this morning. Coronavirus wants you to isolate and stock up and take care of your own first. Instead, look to Him first while you take care of others. In community we can do so much more than we can do on our own.”

At a time of such uncertainty and isolation, it is a blessing to be part of a community – a family – Harbour Churches.  Thank you for the blessing you are – and may God keep you and +bless you.

As ever

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Prayer & Preaching 15th March

Don’t hang out in crowds….

I was a little off colour earlier in the week and used the time to sort out emails from mid-January – 1,843 in total. Most had been read but yes, a few had slipped through the net. To my alarm there was an email from Bishop Martin ‘for communication to all Parishes in March…’

However, the Bishop’s communication (see below) read as if it had been sent in another time. Presently, all clergy are on tender hooks awaiting updates from the Diocese in relation to Covid19 virus. Of course, Bp Martin’s email, written a fortnight ago, said nothing about

In the coming days and weeks, I anticipate I will be hearing a lot more from the Bishop on how we, as parish churches, are to respond to this real and present pandemic. I am particularly concerned that the congregations committed to my care are 90% (yes 90%), over 65 yrs. and, combined with other health issues, represent the most vulnerable members of the population.  Whilst it is still deemed appropriate for us to gather for congregational worship, I would want to assure you that not attending church because you recognise your vulnerability (coupled with right concerns in relation to meeting in one of the most hazardous environments for spreading a virus; confined building space, close seating, poor air flow and limited light + SINGING!) does not compromise your Christian duty to worship God in spirit and in truth and in fellowship with the household of faith.

Please do ensure you understand the government advice on how we respond to the virus. I was concerned to hear that some people are ‘self-isolating’ yet still doing the shopping and going into work. That is not self-isolation.

I will be meeting with the ministry team very soon to consider appropriate measures for pastoral support, including how we can offer practical support e.g. dog walking, prescriptions, shopping etc.

Further, we are to withdraw the chalice from the distribution of holy communion and continue to avoid any physical contact e.g. exchanging the peace etc. Those presiding at the eucharist will use anti-bacterial alcoholic gel.

So, please follow all the advice we are being given and do check daily for email newsletter updates as to how church life is being affected. But above all let us take to heart in word and deed the ‘golden rule’ and do all we can to love ourselves as God loves us and so make that love known in our relationships with others.

My prayers

Bishop Martin’s letter

I was recently asked by a reporter whether in the diocese of Chichester Ash Wednesday has become more popular – like Christmas is.

My own experience of offering “ashes to go” outside Brighton station was very informative. Generally, people on their way to work were not very interested and sometimes hostile.

People with a bit of Christian formation and experience were more pleased to see us. I sensed that for some of them, this was an invitation to re-connect with the season of Lent and the renewal of their faith. For others, it was encouraging, giving permission for the hidden, private practice of their faith to be affirmed by someone else in public.

The message of Lent is cheering and simple: God loves you and the Church is starting preparations to celebrate that fact at Easter.

But this year, in particular, the ashes with which we began this season of Lent offered a serious statement of protest.

As destructive fires raged in Australia, ash was everywhere. Our ashes were an identification with all who are the victim of climate change and environmental damage. But perhaps more importantly, ash was an even clearer symbol of the Christian call to repentance, a radical change of heart.

Extinction protests have certainly become more popular. But we might have more yet to do to make the Lenten discipline of repentance more popular within the Church, in order to become a catalyst for repentance in society and global change.

My hope and prayer is that we might emerge from this Lent with a greater sense of reverence for the earth and all its inhabitants. The celebration of Easter will then be marked by a different, freer, lighter way of living, rather than a return to damaging habits we had tried to give up for the time being.


Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

We continue to pray for:
Claire Ralf, Derrick, Clive and Max

And those who have recently died and their loved ones:
Barry Russell, Grant Devonshire, Stewart Becker, Alex Thavenot and Ania

If you know of anyone who needs our prayers or would appreciate a visit, please let the Rector or the Parish Administrator know.

Should you wish to contact the Rector his mobile number is 07538 011579.

Services for this weekend

8.00 BCP Holy Communion at West Wittering and Itchenor

At Birdham (9.00) Susan Monks theme for Little Jimmies will be ‘God’s World’ and at 9.30 her sermon theme will be “This is my Song”. At West Wittering at (10.00) Sarah Manouch’s  sermon theme will be ‘God’s peace – shaking hands optional’. 

There will be Evensong at West Wittering at 6.00pm

Sunday 15th March – Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 17. 1-7; Romans 5. 1-11; John 4. 5-42
Ephesians 5. 1-14; Luke 11. 14-28
Joshua 1. 1-9; Ephesians 6. 10-20

Sunday 22nd March – Mothering Sunday
Exodus 2, 1-10; Colossians 3. 12-17; Luke 2, 33-35; John 19. 25-27
Hebrews 12. 22-24; John 6. 1-14

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