A big thank you to Jill and Keith Garvey on their first edition of the church magazine. Jill and Keith have had a busy month, getting to grips with using new software, collating our articles together and what a great collaborative effort they have done in bringing us their first church magazine for May. Thank you Jill and Keith! You can pick up your church magazine from Hope and Emmanuel Churches or The Hub in Hope or subscribe online here.
A very big thank you to all of you who helped to make our Easter Celebrations so special this year too. For your input into our church services (onsite and online), into both worship and welcome – the Easter flowers have been as stunning as always – as was the new Cross outside Hope Church.
Social distancing and mask wearing aside, there is a real sense of life getting back to normal in our churches, our workplaces, our schools, our communities. We look forward with anticipation to when we will be able to gather safely again ‘in person’ now not only for worship but for fellowship, food and fun! I am hopeful that the coming months will bring us opportunity to trial some simple outdoor worship – worship that includes singing too – how so many of us are missing singing our praises to God altogether! – I am hopeful for opportunities for fellowship and children’s and family activities too. Hope Church Hall Committee is due to meet this month to discuss reopening for groups and bookings. We are also keeping Hope4All under close review, ready to determine when we will gather again – and in what format we will gather (e.g. in church or outdoors, for worship or fellowship). There is lots to do, lots to be thinking about, lots to be preparing, lots to be praying about!
We are coming into a new chapter of the life of our churches and we have a number of roads to now navigate our way through. We are ‘recovering’ our worship back to our church buildings. We are recovering our congregations back together. This month and or next, we hope to begin recovering some of our groups. Over the last fifteen months, it has been wonderful to connect with so many of you over the phone, online, on the doorstep, in worship online and in church. And all of you, however much, or however little that you have engaged with us over the last 15 months – or we with you – please know that you are valued. You are loved. We are here for you. When safe for you, you are welcome to join again your church family in person. Either with us, or we with you.
As a church, we will also be ‘reshaping’ our worship and ministries. Over the last 15 months, we have all been affected by the pandemic in different ways. Some of you are wanting to do less, others are wanting to do more. Some of you are stepping back, others have gifts waiting to be nurtured and given opportunity. We look forward to you blessing us. We have new ways to think about being the church too. It will not be possible for us to go back to church life exactly as it was before Covid, though much will be the same and this will be comforting for many of you I am sure.
This month (23 May) we celebrate Pentecost, when we remember God pouring out his Holy Spirit on to his people, the Church. We will celebrate the ‘Birthday’ of the Church. Nearly 2,000 years on, it is still an exciting time to be the church. We have discovered new ways to be church, online, onsite and offsite. We want all to stay and all to develop but to enable this we may have some hard decisions to make. In our process of recovery, we have a duty of care to our own – helping you to re-engage with church ‘in-person’ again. But equally we have a duty of care to reshape ourselves so that we can be a blessing to our ‘non-members’ too. It’s important that we seize the opportunities that the last year has brought us as the local church. If you are someone new who has been joining us online, the pandemic has raised for you questions or you are looking for somewhere for friendship and support, then we say to you that as your local church, we are very much here for you too. Come and join us in church on a Sunday. Ask us to pray for you. Ask about Alpha – where we explore questions of life. Keep a watch on our website and Facebook pages to learn when our groups and activities (some old, some new) will be happening. Lastly, as a group of churches I encourage you to pray with me for:
God to fill us with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, that we may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Amen. (Colossians 1:9-12).
In Christ, Adam.
Rev Adam Pawley