Remembering HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Dear friends,

Yesterday was a day of sad news for all of us, but especially for Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. Please hold them in your thoughts and prayers.

At such a time as this, there would usually be many opportunities for individuals to show their respect and gratitude to the Prince, as well as their love and concern for the Queen. However, we are still limited in what we can do, and Her Majesty has made it clear that she does not wish any of the mourning to put anyone at increased risk and that therefore no special exceptions are made to general regulations at this time.

In the light of these restrictions, it seemed that the simplest and legally safest approach was to change our services tomorrow (Sunday 11th April) to give people a chance to pay their respects.

As always, let me encourage you to make your decisions based on your own circumstances. No one should put themselves or others at extra risk. To this end, weather- and technology-permitting, we intend to offer the following options:

1 Services in each parish church, with attendance up to the maximum allowed under Covid regulations. Each service will also be amplified into the church yard. This way if the numbers are above the maximum, or if you simply prefer not to gather inside at this time, it should be possible for you to join with others.

2 The service in St Andrew’s, Heddington will be streamed live via Facebook. The link is https://www.facebook.com/events/272555127835005/ and should work even if you do not have a Facebook account. However, the internet is not always reliable, so please accept my apologies if this doesn’t work, and consider option 3 below.

3 A recording of that service will be made available afterwards on this website to watch when you wish.

The service times are as follows:

St Mary’s, Calstone 9.45am
St James’, Cherhill 10am
St Andrew’s, Heddington 11.15am
St Swithin’s, Compton Bassett 2.30pm
All Saints, Yatesbury 4pm

With every blessing

Matt and team

Villages magazine back, and Easter services update

It feels like an age since I last had something to update here. This time, two pieces of good news:

Because the rate of infection is falling, we have decided to restart the Villages magazine. It will be slightly staggered, so that each issue can provide information matching the stages of the Roadmap, so won’t be coming out on the first of each month like usual.

Secondly, we are going to be having more services in our churches again. These will begin with a service of Holy Communion in each church on Easter Sunday. Details of these and the rest of the services for April can be found here, in the Villages magazine, and in the “News” section of the website. This is a reduced rota, partly because it is still challenging to provide services in the current climate, but also because without singing and chat not everyone wants to be back in church. There will be an online service available each week as well, as long as we can manage.

Don’t forget to send me your pictures on the theme of Hope or New Start by next Sunday.

Blessings

Matt

Christmas update 23rd December 2020

Dear all

Given the large number of changes the government has had to make recently, I thought it might be useful to update you regarding services in the Oldbury Benefice this Christmas.

First, as yet no services have been cancelled. Even in Tier 4 the government permits public worship to continue provided appropriate measures are taken to keep people safe. We feel that our measures are at least in line with best practice, and if you follow the rules, we can continue to meet safely.

However, I am aware that many of you feel it is no longer appropriate to gather, and I have much sympathy for that position. In fact, I would go so far as to say something I never thought I would say as a vicar – if you are able to get through this Christmas without coming to church, maybe you should do so! To help with that, I will be putting a communion service online (on Youtube) on Christmas Eve at 11pm, so that you can use it instead of a midnight communion service or on Christmas morning itself. Do please consider seriously whether this would be the better option for you and your loved ones.

If you do come to one of the services (and you are most welcome to do so, although you do need to pre-book for Calstone and Heddington, and it would be helpful if you could let me know for Cherhill or Compton Bassett), please follow the rules carefully. If we reach our capacity, I regret that we will have to turn people away. This is something else I never expected to do as a vicar, but please understand why it may be necessary.

Please stay safe this Christmas.

With prayers and blessings

Matt

Updated advice for church services – face coverings will be compulsory from 8th August

Wear a face mask

We have been preparing to restart public services to a limited extent in our churches. Following the government’s advice, we had made the wearing of face coverings a matter of personal choice, although it has always been strongly recommended when you are indoors with people you don’t usually meet.

However, following today’s announcement from the Prime Minister, it will no longer be optional – you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt.

While this new rule only comes into effect next Sunday, may I strongly advise you to wear a mask this week already if you are planning to attend church. We will be keeping the services short – approximately 30 minutes – to minimise the risk and to reduce the inconvenience some experience when wearing a mask.

Pentecost service

The service for Pentecost is now live via Youtube or the Online Services section of the website.

There is a version to download, but for copyright reasons I cannot include all the songs. You will find the video here on Saturday evening.

Blessings

Matt

Update on church closures (15th May 2020)

On Thursday last week (7th May), clergy were allowed back into their churches for prayer and to record services. As yet, this applies only to clergy, and I cannot yet make the churches available for private prayer—let alone services—but the opening has begun. I will let you know as soon as we are allowed to open them up for more people.

I am trying to get into each church at least once a week to pray, so you may see me around, or hear the bell rung (this is not possible in all the churches because some of the bells were left “up” and need to be checked by a proper bell-ringer before they are used).

We do not need churches to pray or meet with God, but I hope you are encouraged that the buildings are once again at least partially being used for the purpose for which they were built.

Blessings

Matt

17th May Services

The services for this Sunday should be online shortly. This week I have recorded a slightly informal communion service, and a said matins (traditional language service). The sermon is the same in each.

You can download them directly from the links below, as well as paper copies of the texts if you want them (all the world you need will be on the screen).

Matins: video, service sheet

Communion: video, service sheet

Readings and sermon

They are also available on youtube again. Just look for Oldbury Benefice, and hopefully they will appear shortly.

Blessings

Matt

10th May online services

Dear all

This week’s online services are available. This time from three places.

You can go to the “Online Services” section of this website, click on the link for 10th May and then on the text under the small video picture. Then click on the larger picture of the video to watch.

You can download the usual quality versions from this website (right click, and choose “Download as…” or “Save as…” :
Communion
Family Service

Or you can view the videos in Youtube at:
Communion – https://youtu.be/5jviFRRQYYk
Family service – https://youtu.be/yKVsLTZTfZY
Youtube allows me to post larger quality versions which you can watch on more devices like Apple TV, but there are sometimes problems because of the songs (I do have the licences to show them, but Youtube doesn’t know that).

They are all the same, so just choose one option!

3rd May 2020 service

The Sunday service will shortly be online to watch.

A couple of comments. First, it is just one service this week, and I wasn’t able to get too much child-friendly material for the topic that I could use (for copyright reasons). So I have also posted a link to a child-friendly version of the Gospel story if you want it.

Secondly, at the end of the service, there is a brief pause, and then another 8 minutes or so of sermon. Please feel free to stop before this if you wish, it is just some extra material that felt too long for the service, but which some might want to watch as well.

Blessings

Matt