think on, pray on, act on this
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It has been such a long, difficult time and we have had no Newsletters since the April issue. This has been a period which none of us could ever have envisaged.
When we were told to close our lovely church in March and informed that no-one could go in – even the vicar, if we had one - it all seemed unbelievable. We certainly never expected the situation to go on for as long as it did. One person, Christopher, was allowed to check that everything was alright, every couple of weeks. One of the more bizarre instructions was that it we had bats (which fortunately, we don’t) we were to put dust sheets over things that needed protection and if we were worried about smell we should sprinkle lavender! Then came a further instruction that the churchyard was also out-of-bounds and neither that nor graves could be tended. Fortunately, that one only lasted a few weeks.
During this long period, I kept as many people abreast of what was going on as I could. I had quite a number of email addresses already and added a number more as the weeks went passed. I have also sent out the Diocesan sermons, Myland prayer sheets and, latterly, Emma’s Messages. Emma Barr is a churchwarden at Mount Bures and now an Ordinand, in training to become a Local Minister so will probably be helping us sometimes in the future as part of her training.
I know that many of us, who have had isolating, have been subject to acts of kindness. I’ll just mention a couple which came my way. Our kind and helpful Editor, Suzanne, has continued to be just that during the lockdown. She has done various bits of shopping for me, made face masks and also presented me with a lovely quilt, with a cat design.(photo's can be seen in the full magazine by clicking 'News' on the menu above).
Jim Mulcahy, our previous Editor, brought me bags of peat (for which he refused payment) at a time when everything was so difficult to get. I also have to say one of my grandsons came one day with some bags of Alpaca manure for my roses which was a real treat!
When, in mid- June, we were told that our churches could be open again for private prayer it came as a huge relief. I went back into the church, which has always seemed like my second home, after about 12 weeks - quite an emotional visit. It still looked so lovely and well cared for. However, there were, and remain, so many restrictions that opening has not been easy. The church had to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all books and papers had to be removed. Many notices had to be put out along with hand sanitiser and paper towels and a Risk Assessment completed. Many churches are still not open and those that are often only open for a few hours when the church is manned. Visitors are asked to be really conscious of sanitising and cleanliness. Another more recent rule is that visitors should complete a Consent Form giving their contact details for the NHS Test and Trace scheme. I have to say that people seem to have complied with this request very well.
On the day after our church was re-opened we had been asked to have a bell tolled to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. This could only happen if it could be tolled from the ground floor as the belfry was still out of bounds. Brian agreed to perform this duty and at the appointed hour, 6 pm on June 13th, John and I went to the church and sat quietly while Brian rung the bell 72 times. He then paused for 3 minutes and then rung the bell 3 more times to denote that 3 years had passed. This happened again on July 12th when we were again asked for a bell to be tolled. On this occasion it was 72 times for the 72 years since the inception of the NHS. These two acts, in an empty and scarcely used church, felt quite strange.
From the time the church was re-opened we have had flower arrangements in the church, keeping it looking the loved church that it is. I am so grateful that the people on our Altar Flower rota have again risen to the challenge.
In recent weeks two people died which involved members of our church. Firstly, Sheila Cowlin, Greta Clampin’s sister and the wife of John Cowlin, from Mount Bures, died after some very difficult weeks made so much worse because of the Corona Virus restrictions. The burial service was held at Mount Bures. Only 30 people are allowed in church for a funeral but many more of us were in the churchyard, I think, there were over 100. It was a fine day and when the coffin was brought out into the church yard, led by a piper, the Revd John Chandler and Emma Barr, we all gathered round the graveside. John said more prayers and Emma gave the eulogy. It was a lovely service which we all felt part of, despite the restrictions.
The other lady was our own Esme Barratt who was 104. She was the daughter of Col. Harold Wailes who lived at Tudor House and who was churchwarden when our church was rebuilt. Esme lived quite a lot of her life abroad but returned to our church around the time it was rebuilt and was a regular worshipper. She drove herself from Colchester, until she was well into her nineties. She maintained a keen interest in the church. She died at Freda Gunton Lodge where she had lived to 8 years. Esme’s funeral was at the crematorium and, again, taken beautifully by John Chandler. It was streamed so I was able to watch it. A Memorial Service will be held at our church when that becomes possible.
I am repeating an article about Esme that I put in the Magazine in 2010.
One rather lovely and quite emotional event happened in mid-August. There were two cremation services on the morning of Monday 17th. One was a friend of my husband and Roy Chapman, a very staunch member of their Rotary Club. The other was a lady who lived at Nayland, a friend of Roy. Of course, very few, other than family, could attend the services at the crematorium and Roy and John decided to sit quietly in the church at the same time that the services were happening and I agreed to play quietly on the organ. Another three couples from Nayland asked if they could also attend. It really was very moving. I said a couple of prayers and everyone felt that they had properly remembered those who had died. By a strange coincidence I found afterwards that I was at the Colchester County High School, and in the same class, as the Nayland lady.
On 16th August it was decided to try our first service (which necessitated a further Risk Assessment) and we had a simple Evening Service which seemed to go well. It was just so lovely to be back together. There can still be no congregational singing, masks have to be worn and social distancing maintained. Sally Bramall took a few photos which show us masked and sitting well apart. (photos) There were 24 people at that service which I was very pleased about. Our small choir sat, spaced, in the chancel and sang a couple of verses of a hymn as we had just been told that that was allowed. We shall now be including a few more choir-sung items and hope that it will not be too long before everyone can join. After the service we had a short discussion about how to go forward and decided, at that time, to try a service every two weeks. The second service two weeks later was a full Prayer Book Evening Service, mostly said but with the choir singing some verses of hymns.
Mrs Phyll Wood officiated at the service on September 13th . Phyll is a lay reader who has helped us in the past. We are hoping to include more singing by the choir. Then on September 27th our friend James Ridge, Archdeacon of Prisons, will be conducting our first Holy Communion Service.
From October, hopefully, we will have weekly services. We can only have one each week as the church has to be completely cleaned (or left closed for a few days) before more people can come in. The pattern, for the time being, is that there will be one Morning Service a month, on the first Sunday. The rest will be evening services as they are the best-attended. On the third Sunday evening in the month there will be a Holy Communion Service. I have put a Calendar at the back of this issue which is for 2 months.
I have to point out that all these things may change as new guidance comes out and depending on whether we are able to get people to take our services. It really is very much that we are taking it slowly and trying to work out the best way to do things.
We will celebrate Harvest Festival on October 11th when our donations will go to the Colchester Foodbank. We usually send out offerings to the Colchester Night Shelter, but homeless people have been found accommodation during the pandemic, so the Shelter is currently closed. There are details about what is required by the Foodbank on page ?
As you will see, November will be a little different. As the second Sunday (8th) is Remembrance Sunday, that service will be in the morning as is the custom.
There will be, therefore, be an evening service on the first Sunday but not on the second.
Information about how we deal with the Christmas period will be given in the December/ January issue.
As I said at the beginning, ‘Welcome Back’. It is so lovely to have just a little of our church and fellowship on track again.