Easing lockdown isn’t easy! As I sat down to write this week’s newsletter on the re-opening of our church building’s for public worship, it really felt as if I was all at sea with the different advice and ‘opinions’ out there. Just as I opened a new page, I heard the ping to tell me that, yet another email had come in – agh! How blessed I was to open it…

ERIC EYRE’S MAIL

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?
Hello Amblers and friends

Have you ever been in a glass bottomed boat? If you are prone to sea sickness – don’t!

We were on the island of Malta in St. Pauls Bay; it was too much for me – after about half an hour I’d had it. But I did stay long enough to see the huge submerged statue of St. Paul sunk on the order of the Pope at the place where he was caught in a fierce storm as a prisoner on the way to Rome to be tried and imprisoned (Acts 27).

We read of his remarkable trust in God in the teeth of the most fierce storm and how he revealed that all the crew and prisoners would be saved, though they were close to being blown onto the fierce rocky reefs, they first lowered what is called a sea anchor, still used today sometimes called a drogue which is more like a large underwater parachute to restrain the boat. As it was still in danger they let down four anchors from the stern. The next day they saw a sandy bay and cut the anchor ropes and let the ship run aground on Malta all were saved.

During Storm Covid I have kept before me, as I have mentioned before, this picture of being anchored to faith in Christ which is why I have signed my letters Anchored in Him taken from the words ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure ( Hebrews c7v19). I also read recently ‘We cannot stay steady in a churning sea without a good anchor…. Unless we are anchored in something beyond the here and now, chances are we will drown in the present moment.’ Ronald Rolheiser.

Jesus will anchor you to the refuge of Gods mercy and no storm will break His hold. One remembers the old hymn ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life. When the clouds unfold their wings of strife. We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll.’

 What helps you to anchor your life in the adverse and  changing storms of life?

Your friends and Amblers – Eric and Margaret
 Anchored in Him.

There I was drowning in the present moment only to be thrown this gracious lifeline and ‘re-connect’ with the anchor!

As we look to be back in church this Sunday or gathered in the grounds, I think it would be good to ask ourselves Eric’s question: ‘What helps you to anchor your life in the adverse and changing storms of life?’. I know for some of you being in the church building Sunday by Sunday has been your anchor through life. However, in this time of lockdown, many of us have found ways to anchor our life of faith without being in church buildings.

Whilst we are doing all we can to ensure that Sunday will be as safe as it can, we can only mitigate the risk. Ultimately, you must weigh up whether it’s safe for you to gather with others in a confined space for a prolonged period of time for an act of restricted worship. Remember, God loves you and only expects that you will honour that love by keeping yourself – and others – safe and well.

Please do read the following guidelines for this Sunday and please do pray for Harbour Churches as we re-open.

Anchored in Him
Jonathan

8am said Service of Holy Communion BCP
Harbour Churches @ West Wittering and Birdham

  • Arrive in good time and queue to enter the building at the marked safe distance lines
  • Apply hand sanitiser and you are encouraged to wear a face mask
  • Complete ‘track and trace’ details
  • Sit in the pew you are directed to without making physical contact with others
  • Any corporate prayers must be said ‘under your breath’
  • Communion will be given in one kind – bread
  • One pew at a time to come up to receive
  • You will be directed to leave the church building one pew at a time

10am Outdoor Service of Worship
Harbour Churches @ Birdham

  • Bring something to sit on (small deckchair/rug/cushion) and a flask of coffee/refreshments
  • Park on the Church Lane parking area or in the Stirland’s CC car park
  • Remain at a safe distance as you find your place to sit in your household group on the ‘safe bubbles’ marked on the ground.
  • There will be no singing, but worship music will be played, and prayers may be said together
  • Complete ‘track and trace’ details card in your ‘safe bubble’ and leave it when you go
  • As you leave please observe a safe social distance
  • Toilet facilities will be available

Please read the following for more information and guidance agreed by the Rector and Churchwardens:

RE-OPENING HARBOUR CHURCHES FOR PRIVATE PRAYER AND PUBLIC WORSHIP

Much thought has been given to ensuring that all we do in our three churches will give glory to God, facilitate positive experiences for worshippers and observe all public health requirements set out by the UK Government and the Church of England.  Risk assessments will have been carried out for all venues and events.

PRIVATE PRAYER
Our three churches will now be open for unsupervised private prayer from 9am to 5pm from Wednesdays to Saturdays inclusive.  People will be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church, to observe social distancing and to take home with them any used prayer sheets.

PUBLIC WORSHIP
For all public worship we shall follow Government guidance and record the names of attendees.  These records will be kept for 21 days to assist ‘track and trace’ if required.  The number of people who can safely be accommodated will be determined as part of the risk assessments.

BCP Holy Communion
This will be celebrated at 8am every Sunday in St James, Birdham and St Peter and St Paul, West Wittering.  It was felt that the length of the pews in St Nicholas, Itchenor would not allow for the necessary social distancing and so reluctantly the decision was made not to hold a Communion service in that church.  People will be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church and to observe social distancing.  Communion will be in one kind i.e. no chalice.

Worship outside
Obviously the number of people who can be accommodated inside our churches is limited.  Yet after this long period of lockdown we want people from all three of our churches to be able to worship together.  So, starting on this Sunday, 12th July at 10am, we shall be holding an All Age Service outside on the land around St James, Birdham.  This is allowed because the land is owned by the church.  We will be required to follow guidance for public worship which applies to worship inside churches as well as in the surrounding grounds.  Adhering to this guidance has the following implications:

  • There is a numerical ‘cap’ of 30 for stand-alone services such as weddings but no numerical ‘cap’ on other services.  So, the church is not bound by domestic regulations on numbers.
  • People will be asked to bring their own chairs and those from different households will be seated two metres apart.  We shall all have to be very careful when arriving and leaving to maintain social distance but still greeting each other at a safe distance.
  • Singing, chanting and playing of brass or woodwind instruments are not currently recommended and so there will be no singing at our service.  We will, however, have some gentle, live keyboard music.  The service will be reflective but engaging, similar in some ways to the Sofa Service.

In all this we recognise, as we have throughout this time a pandemic, that ultimately it is for the individual to decide if they feel it is safe for them to undertake any activity.

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