Remembrance 2021 Heddington

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. Although we no longer have a limit on how many people gather in church for a service, we still need to be cautious.

This Sunday’s service will therefore start in the church, but we will be moving outside a little earlier than usual, and holding the entire Act of Remembrance (including the reading of names and the two minutes’ silence) at or near the Garden of Remembrance. So do make sure that you come prepared for the weather.

I know this is a break from tradition, and we all hope that next year will be more normal, but we feel that this is a way to pay our respects in an appropriate way without putting anyone at unnecessary risk.

Remembrance 2021 Cherhill – outside the Manor House

Although there are no legal limits this year on numbers who can attend a service in church, we are still operating on a 50% capacity basis just to be on the safe side.

As we will be joined by the 1st Cherhill Scout troop as usual, we felt that there was a high chance that we will be (considerably) above this limit, and that the service should therefore take place outside.

So please come prepared for the weather as we will stay outside even if it rains.

To avoid everyone having to find somewhere to stand in the churchyard, Oliver and Belinda Haslam have very kindly given us permission to use the car parking area outside the Manor House to hold the service. There should be plenty of space, but please could I remind you that this is someone’s private property, and to make sure any little ones in your care don’t go wandering off.

This was a difficult decision, as it will be cold, and I know some of you find it hard to stand for long periods, but I hope this allows us to gather as a village in remembrance without people worrying about whether they might get sick.

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