Welcome to St Mary’s. We are a friendly and lively church for all ages, getting to know Jesus better through his Word (the Bible) and his Spirit, together on a Sunday and throughout the week.

 
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Red Stripe

WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR, ALEX – 16th September 2021


Dear Church Family Members and Parish Friends, 
 
Hoping very much that this finds you well. 
 
This news email contains information on the following: 

1.    Booking links for this Sunday's (19th September) services
2.    The dates overview for our parish from September through to December 2021
3.    Our food bank collection on Wednesday 22nd September, next week
4.    Our collection for Afghan refugees on Wednesday 22nd September, next week
5.    The Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to our Diocese
6.    Alpha in our parish
7.    Operation Christmas Child
8.    Our Sermon Series on Joshua

There will be another opportunity to pray for the situation in Afghanistan and for all affected by this on Tuesday morning (21st September) at 10 am. This will last for approximately 40 minutes and the Zoom link for this is here: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81374074315?pwd=RFhIem4wckljc0cyakExZWRsYUNlZz09
 
Love and prayers
Alex
 
07312 113019
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1.    Booking links for this Sunday's (19th September) services

To book to attend the service at St. Paul's, at 9am, on Sunday 19th September, please use this link: https://forms.gle/BRPYU3aE4Jk8QNS46

To book to attend the service at St. Mary's, at 11 am, on Sunday 19th September, please use this link: https://forms.gle/TZyYJC8hL8V7vEeG7
 
Both services will be Zoomed as usual and information for this will be sent out on Saturday. 
 
2.    The dates overview for our parish, September - December 2021

Attached, in case you missed it last week, is the overview of key dates (so far) for our parish between September and December 2021. 
 
3.    Our food bank collection on Wednesday 22nd September, next week

On Wednesday next week, 22nd September, between 2 and 4 pm, we will be collecting for the Epsom and Ewell Foodbank at St. Paul's. 
 
Items currently needed are: 
 
Long life sponge puddings
Powdered milk
Meat pies (no alcohol)
Tinned Vegetables
Rice
Cooking sauces
Treats and snacks for children
Mayonnaise
Ketchup
Shampoo
Washing powders
Washing up liquid
Bags for life
 
4.    Our collection for Afghan refugees on Wednesday 22nd September, next week

We are having a collection of goods to support refugees from Afghanistan and other places. This will run alongside the food bank collection, at St. Paul's, between 2 and 4 pm on Wednesday 22nd September next week. 
 
Items needed are: 
 
Tents
Men and boys coats, especially medium sized
Sleeping bags and blankets
Jogging bottoms and jeans, size 26-34 waist
New boxer shorts (especially medium and small, tight if possible)
Socks, hats and gloves
Hoodies and jumpers
Unlocked mobile phones with chargers (unlocked being essential)
Power banks
Tarpaulins
Rain ponchos
Back packs
Torches
Toiletries and toiletry packs
Roll mats
T-shirts
Trainers
Bin bags
Anti-bacterial hand wash
Children's sports wear
Women's sports wear
Women's leggings
Women's new underwear
Dried fruit and nuts
UHT milk
Sugar
Biscuits
Cakes
Coffee
Tinned food e.g. meats (not pork), lentils, beans, tomatoes
Cooking oil
Tea
Long life fruit juice
 
5.    The Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to our Diocese

It is not too late to sign up to attend the local event for our Deanery, at Blenheim School on Saturday 25th September at 3.30pm, where the Archbishop of Canterbury will be speaking and answering questions on matters of faith. 
 
Please do think about who you may invite and / or book to attend yourself. 
 
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/big-questions-with-the-archbishop-of-canterbury-epsom-tickets-162246091427
 
Please also see this video for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhB_VPF6Ae4
 
6.    Alpha in our parish

We are running Alpha in our parish, for 8 Wednesday evenings at 8pm, from Wednesday 6th October. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the Christian faith, whether you have been a believer for a long time or you are simply wondering about it. 
 
Please think about friends and family members who you may like to invite to take part. 
 
For more information, please contact Andrew Shaw: LLM@norkwithburghheath.com 
 
We will be giving out invitation cards this Sunday for all of us to share with others. 
 
To find out more about alpha, please look at this website: https://alpha.org/
 
7.    Operation Christmas Child

We are collecting Christmas shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child again this year and empty shoe boxes, ready to be filled, can be picked up during our services at both churches this Sunday and from the churches from this date. We will need them returned to either church by Sunday 7th November. 
 
Thank you so much to Tricia Peacock and Deirdre Jackson for heading this initiative up in each church.
 
For more information, please also see this website: https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/
 
8.    Our Sermon Series on Joshua

For our sermon series this term, we are studying the book of Joshua. 
 
Please find links to our first two sermons on Joshua 1 and 2 below: 
 
Joshua 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvWs-32nJuo
 

Joshua 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMXOX_cpYRg
 
Love and prayers, 
Alex 


Rev Alex Stevens
Vicar
Parish of Nork with Burgh Heath


The PCC of the Parish of Nork with Burgh Heath is a Registered UK Charity No 1180563

 

WEEKLY SERMONS - To access our past weekly sermons, please click here

 

 

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WEEKLY SERMONS - To access our past weekly sermons, please click here
 

COVID SAFETY IN OUR CHURCHES FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS

 
As we are all aware, the Government lifted all COVID restrictions on Monday 19th July.
 
The Church of England and the Diocese have urged all church leaders and PCCs to make decisions over COVID safety which
•         continue to manage the risks of COVID as safely as possible
•         take into account the needs of the more vulnerable members of our church family (ie thinking of the needs of others - rather than our own wishes as our focus)
•         and demonstrate responsible love & care for all
 
Decisions over COVID measures are now being made in each individual parish, according to the unique circumstances of different areas and different groups of people.
 
I wrote to you last week, seeking your preferences on topics such as social distancing, mask wearing, singing and sharing the peace. Thank you so much to everyone who responded, it has been very helpful.
 
The PCC and I then met on Monday evening and discussed all the findings, which are shared below with the decisions which we think are wise for the current time and which will be reviewed again in our next PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
We have tried to go with the majority preferences wherever possible as will also be shown below.
 
At the bottom of the outcomes to the key questions asked are some further general points, which were highlighted by some of you and which we discussed as part of the process.
 
 
Sharing the Peace
 
The easiest decision to make, following everyone's responses is that - for now - we will continue to share the peace by waving & nodding at each other, including those on Zoom.
 
76% of respondents said that their preference is to keep waving for now.
10% suggested elbow or fist pumps
14% are happy to share the peace by shaking hands, but would avoid those who are uncomfortable (there was a suggestion that perhaps those who don't wish to share the peace could stay seated) and would hand sanitise afterwards.
 
The majority, by far, wished to keep waving & nodding.
 
This will next be reviewed at the PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
 
Mask Wearing
 
Again, this was an easy decision to make (because of the high majority preference): For now, we will ask you to continue to wear masks when you enter the church building for worship, until you exit at the end.
 
73% of respondents said that they would prefer us to still wear masks
Of these 3% suggested that if someone refuses to wear a mask then it may be helpful for them to be asked to sit at the front of the church to keep others safe (I will not be asking this of anyone - but instead will ask everyone to consider the needs and wishes of others around them)
10% of respondents said that they would prefer to stop wearing masks, but are happy to continue to do so if others would prefer to keep them
16% of respondents stated that they would like to stop wearing masks and of these 3% wished to put them on during the sharing of communion and 3% wished to review according to local infection rates over time
 
This request does not apply to children under 12 and does not apply to the medically exempt. Please do chat with me about any concerns you may have in this regard.
 
This will next be reviewed at the PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
Singing in Church
 
From this Sunday (August 1st) we will begin to sing again in church, but we will ask everyone (excepting children under 12 and those who are exempt) to keep their masks on to do so.
 
94% of respondents would like some kind of singing to resume.
Of this 94% 17% of people said that they would prefer this to be outside
Of this 94% a different 37% (ie not including the 17% above) of people would only feel comfortable singing inside with masks on
Of this 94% a different 20% of people would prefer to start by singing some of the songs only so that everyone can regain confidence in this
Of this 94%, the remaining 23% had no additional stipulations
 
Additional comments made:
 
27% of respondents said that it would be sensible to ask those who are keen to sing to sit at the front and those who are nervous about singing to sit nearer the back
 
11% of respondents commented that having some services where there is singing and some where there isn't would probably not be helpful
 
The approach taken by PCC to decide to sing all songs, but keep masks on was an attempt to 'go down the middle' of all the different suggestions.
 
This will next be reviewed at the PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
 
Social Distancing in Church
 
Of the decisions made, this was the most complicated! We would ask you to bear with us in the process which we will go through on this.
 
For now, we will continue to keep 2 metre social distancing, however over the next few weeks we will experiment with how to make church look 'more like church used to':
 
From the 29th August,
•         We will re-establish rows (though there will be some rows which people do sit on and others which they don't)
•         We will also re-establish choice over where people sit (thank you for your patience up to now in sitting in allocated places, which - although trying to take into account hearing & other specific needs people have shared - has not always been to everyone's ideal!)
         
53% of respondents stated that they would prefer to keep to 2 metre social distancing for the current time
6% suggested reducing to 1.5 metres
22% suggested reducing to 1 metre
3% suggested sitting on alternate rows and sitting 1,2,3 (appropriate number) of seats apart
12% suggested social distancing isn't needed any more, but 3% suggested they would be happy to continue if others would like it
3% suggested having church half and half- 2m social distancing in one half and none in the other
3% were happy to go with the majority
 
A key point made, for us all to be aware of, is that little children do not understand 2 metres, 1 metre (etc). The parents who fed back on the questions are keen to support those who would like social distancing, but ask for understanding and kindness where their little ones unwittingly wander nearer to others than intended.
 
The approach taken by PCC here, was to try and honour the majority - over half of respondents still wish to keep 2 metre social distancing for now; but also to try and honour those who would like things to start to change by reshaping what the 2-metre social distancing looks like.
 
We have made the date of the 29th August to give time to experiment and re-prepare the churches. This will follow the joint service on Zoom on the 22nd August and so also gives extra time for those who will be involved in helping move the furniture for the revised church layout.
 
 
This will next be reviewed at the PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
 
Some Further General Points:
 
Some further points were raised by a number of you and were discussed at PCC and in addition to the points above:
 
1) Zoom provision will continue for both services: Zoom is a new gift from the last 16 months which will stay with us as an additional tool for meetings and worship probably forever now, which can be applied as appropriate to different events. 16% of respondents to the questions do not feel safe enough (for medical or other reasons) or ready to return to church yet and will continue to join us from Zoom for the foreseeable future.
 
2) Our Monthly Joint Service will continue on Zoom for now, due to the higher numbers of people and also to enable those who are continuing on Zoom regularly for the moment to be able to see the rest of us and us them more easily
 
3) Booking for services will continue (at least until 20th September): one thing the government has requested is that a registering system continues for events, including worship, and this is a good way of doing this as well as planning for those who come. This is so that if there is a covid outbreak, we know who may be affected by it and can let you know swiftly.
 
4) Communion will continue in one kind only - although we are actually allowed to consider using the cup & sharing wine with one another, this is simply not safe or sensible at the current time.
 
5) Cleaning, good ventilation, hand sanitisation and other sensible measures will remain in place - everyone will continue to be asked to hand sanitise on arriving at the churches (to protect each other from the spread of germs) and everyone will continue to be asked to hand sanitise on the way out (to protect the local community from any germs which we still may have amongst us)
 
6) A more adaptable approach will be needed for Messy Church and Community Alive, the services where we have most children at each church: Although social distancing measures will still be in place for the adults, children need to interact and be able to be free (as far as their parents are happy with) to engage with one another - as they do at school. It is important that they can really enjoy the craft activities, games, role play activities and other items planned for them. Safety measures will still be in place for these services, but they will need their own risk assessments and different planning.
 
7) Each group activity will need its own risk assessment: although safety plans for group activities will be expected to be in line with the decisions for worship, individual risk assessments will be needed for each of these as we begin to open out again from September (consultations are currently taking place with team leaders on plans for the autumn)
 
8) Refreshments: Although we would all love to share refreshments with one another after services, as it is a key part of church in usual times, we have decided not to restart refreshments at the current time. As with each of the decisions made, this will be reviewed at the next PCC meeting on the 20th September.
 
This decision about refreshments does not apply to the group & outreach activities in the week (where numbers are generally smaller), and decisions on how to approach this in each different circumstance will be made by the team leaders and myself, jointly.
 
These points will next be reviewed at the PCC meeting on Monday 20th September.
 
I hope it is helpful to have read our thinking and you now feel confident about what to expect on Sunday at church and why.
 
Thank you again to all who took time to answer the questions either in email or discussion. It has been greatly appreciated.
 
Love and prayers,
Alex

Rev Alex Stevens
Vicar
Parish of Nork with Burgh Heath