I hope you are keeping well. I am writing this pastoral letter to you as we are about to enter the most important week of the church’s year - Holy Week - in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Never before in the history of the church have we had to conduct worship, explore new ways of ‘being a worshipping community’, whilst continuing to grapple with what it means to be a ‘church’ in quarantine reaching the congregation within the confines of their own homes.
Despite this period of ‘isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ mandate that we must follow, I have had encouraging conversations with members of our community. It appears that it has also had the effect of actually bringing together communities, often in unexpected ways. We have had kind offers from members to help with calls, delivering mail and medications, some of whom are delivering this letter right now, and many have been positively showered with calls of support from family, neighbours and concerned friends. The coming together of communities is wonderful to see, which has been evidenced by the numbers who have joined our Sunday Eucharist. We had over 50 people last Sunday who joined us on Zoom. It was so uplifting to see members of our congregation, both current and former, as well family members, come to worship together. I even had the pleasure of hosting 6 members of one family at Evensong, giving them a platform by which to reconnect.
We have had some lovely feedback on these new initiatives we have initiated, in particular the Daily Devotions and the Live Services on Zoom: we would continue to welcome your feedback, both positive and negative, as we extend our worship in new ways. If you are new to Zoom or require help, please click on the helpful guide here: https://www.edusc.org/blog/how-to-join-a-zoom-meeting/.
Finally, please forward this to friends and family or alternatively, print and post it on your door for neighbours to see. Not all churches are able to upload the services online at the moment, so if we can share our worship with friends, neighbours and family, they would be most welcome to join us. Also, if you are struggling, in any capacity, please do feel free to reach out. St Stephen’s is open and alive in spirit if not physically. My thoughts, prayers and well wishes go with you friends.