As we are now in tier 3, I, the Churchwardens and Parish Secretaries have agreed that it would be safest to suspend in-person services for the next 3 Sundays. We will review this after that and aim to hold a Eucharist at the end of the month if at all possible.
Our churches will remain open for private prayer.
Please note that due to the current circumstances services formats may change.
I will be on leave from 4th January for 10 days
Dial a sermon:
Call 01584 701985 to hear the weeks sermon read by Anna
Monday: Lyonshall church 9.00
Tuesday: Zoom Silent prayer 9.00 (let Anna know if you’re interested)
Wednesday: At the Rectory – please send any prayer request to Anna
Thursday: Shobdon church 9.00
Friday: Pembridge School 9.00
If you would like to join in on the Zoom services please let Anna know (this is for security purposes) and you will be sent an invitation. It is very easy to join a Zoom session.
Receiving communion in one kind
We have had some guidance from the Archbishop’s about a way to administer communion in both kinds by the priest dipping the individual wafers before administration. However our Bishop states-
- If you are anxious or shielding there is no compulsion to resume HC in both kinds. Indeed there is no compulsion to resume HC in both kinds period. Reception in one kind remains a theologically valid way of receiving the sacrament. This method does increase risk slightly.
I know that some people object to communion in one kind however the majority of congregants do accept the principle and theology. Since I am shielding I do not propose to change at this point.
For rural churches to thrive, bold thinking is needed
26 NOVEMBER 2020
Hanging tenaciously to the familiar may hasten their demise, says Richard Jackson
Hereford diocese has one church building for every 820 people. We are acutely aware of declining numbers and the burdens that these place on clergy and lay leaders. It is not uncommon for clergy to be looking after fewer than 2000 people, but with seven or eight church buildings and a 30-minute drive between them.
The Covid-19 crisis has, however, revealed a huge reservoir of creative energy and passion in the rural Church. Rural churches are a very diverse group. The boundary between church and the wider community is very fuzzy. They are integral to their community’s identity. The buildings generate great passion, not just in those who worship there regularly.
The solutions to these challenges will be as diverse as the communities themselves. Solutions are beginning to emerge as a whole diocese works together in partnership. The destination will be a very different Church, but change is more likely to be fruitful if it is evolutionary and consultative rather than imposed from the top down.
SEVERAL principles seem clear. First, people’s energy for engagement dissipates the further you go from the parish centre. People are committed to their parish, but less so to their benefice — less, still, to the deanery — and the “diocese” is often regarded as a disembodied tax-collecting authority based in Church House.
Second, the local church will remain the place in which mission and pastoral care is generated and sustained.
Third, diverse leadership is the key to growth and health.
We need a new partnership to develop in church governance at every level. It seems crazy that churches within a few miles of each other are all struggling to find safeguarding officers, churchwardens, and treasurers.
Benefice councils are a significant help with this. Greater involvement at a deanery level can be encouraged by reducing governance functions to a bare minimum, and opening up synod meetings to a wider constituency, discussing and acting on matters of missional interest.
Reimagining deanery chapters as a more monastic, mutually supportive community combats something of the loneliness of parochial ministry. In some cases, a radical reimagining of deanery function allows a degree of specialisation: clergy can play to their strengths across a wider area, which is especially important now that schools are our missional focus with children.
THE recognition of the local church as the centre of a diocese means that we will seek to focus our resources there: running very tight ships at the diocesan office; reducing non-parochial clerical posts if possible; sharing advisory posts with parish responsibility; and always asking the question of central activities “How does this help frontline ministry?” Diocesan advisory committees and chancellors must have a clear bias to missional engagement, and less to aesthetics.
Ultimately, some buildings will need to close. We recognise the pain of that. Government should play a part in heritage preservation in areas where the buildings are no longer needed. But closed buildings that have not been repurposed are still the responsibility of the diocesan board of finance. Few can afford that.
The best way to preserve a building is to have a vibrant worshipping community. Evidence shows that focal ministry is one of the keys to this. We need to facilitate greater numbers of clergy — stipendiary, part-time, self-supporting — and licensed lay ministers. Bishops will need to be entrepreneurial, experimental, and permission-giving, often linking to ecumenical partners, with whom close working will be essential.
The desire to preserve what we have is commendable, but, paradoxically, hanging tenaciously to the familiar can accelerate its demise. These inevitable changes must be about helping more people to discover Jesus, not institutional survival. Falling numbers are the fundamental problem. But bear in mind, just before the Wesleyan revival of the 18th century, there were only 20 communicants in St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Day. Prayer does make a difference.
The Rt Revd Richard Jackson is the Bishop of Hereford.