Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We hope you are enjoying the Spring weather and continuing to stay safe.
An update from our schools as they have been welcoming students back
This week, many of the nation’s children returned to school. Roz Cordner, our Co-Director of Education at the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education, has sent some wonderful feedback from our schools on what the first few days have been like. Please see attached. She has also written the following:
“Our schools have ensured a warm welcome back to their pupils and everyone is delighted to be able to experience life together again as part of their school family, face-to-face and in the flesh. All schools have been teaching throughout all three lockdowns and Monday’s return marks the beginning of a new phase of celebration, joy and excitement. It is also important to mention that as well as recognising the resilience shown by many, our schools have spent a huge amount of time ensuring that those pupils and families and staff who have struggled or experienced sadness during lockdown, for whatever reason, are also recognised and cared for. Our schools were also given resources to use for collective worship as they reopened. Most schools have managed to deliver and stream collective worship regularly since last March and will be very happy to have a school-based worship albeit not quite all together yet.
“We are hugely grateful for the incredible work of our schools and continue to pray for them in the weeks ahead as everyone adjusts to school after lockdown.”
National Day of Reflection
23 March is the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown and will be a National Day of Reflection, when the nation is invited to pause for one minute at midday, pray and reflect on the year that has passed. It is also a day to stand together, in whatever way you feel able, with those who are bereaved.
Dean Andrew Nunn has written a prayer for the day. Also see attached.
Praying on a day of reflection
Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages.
From the Easter Vigil, Common Worship
God of all that has been, that is, that is to come
as we reflect on the year that has past,
those we have lost,
those we have missed,
the contact not made,
the hopes dashed,
new things discovered,
new opportunities seized,
new love embraced,
we thank you that you have been with us
and brought us to this day.
Stay with us
as we step into your future
with faith and hope and love
and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here is a link to the Church of England website to find out more: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/national-day-reflection
Singing in Church
The guidance given to parishes in January still applies and will continue beyond Easter until new guidelines are issued. That is three singers only. You may find further guidance from The Royal School Of Church Music (RSCM) useful. See link here: http://www.rscm.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/FAQs-re-Singing-23rd-Feb-2021.pdf
As an example of our partnerships with our many local authorities, we were very encouraged to receive the attached letter from Coucillor Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, and Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Safety. In it they thank faith leaders for “going further than the national guidelines while Covid rates were rapidly increasing”. Now that rates are reducing and “an easing of lockdown is on the horizon”, they have said that “should faith leaders choose to reopen in this context, we will support this, but would ask that you continue to take every possible measure to follow the rules which do remain in place and ensure your congregations can worship safely.” This is a very welcome letter from leaders of one of our councils in the Diocese. We hope that across the Diocese you are also experiencing similar encouragement from civic authorities.
The Bishop’s Lent Call
The Bishop’s Lent Call continues. The theme this year is food insecurity and our focus is on food banks in the Diocese and projects in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and Jerusalem.
For very understandable reasons, last year’s Lent Call only produced enough to support the small number of identified special projects, for which Bishop Christopher is grateful. However, we were not able to give to our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe. Please give some thought as to how best to encourage generous giving to support food insecure families living in Southwark and also in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and Jerusalem (the focus of this year’s Lent Call). Please encourage people in your parish to consider making a thank offering – for example, those receiving their vaccination might be encouraged to donate to the Lent Call once they’ve had it or in retrospect.
We wish you all a blessed Lenten Season and Mothering Sunday.
The Coronavirus Task Group
(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and Sophia Jones)