As I write to you today we might contemplate on the birth of John the Baptist, the feast day for which was celebrated yesterday. These verses from Isaiah are often read at this time:
A voice cries out, "in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway of our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 40
Many moons ago I used to do a lot of team hiking and a short spell in the TA. Something that is always drummed into you when trying to work together towards a common goal is to always go at the pace of the slowest person. It is not that that person is lesser or weaker, it is simply that none of us are the same and we all have different concerns and different ways of engaging with things.
The government announced this week that places of worship can, if they want, open for public worship from 4th July. This announcement came only a couple of weeks after the one allowing us to open buildings for individual private prayer. It is important to recognise that these are blanket announcements to pave the way for all places of worship in the country, in all places and of all religions. They are not directives, but permissions, which we can then implement in ways that are right for us and follow the accompanying guidance given.
Public Worship in churches
As I write this we have not yet received any detailed guidance on what may or may not be possible in opening churches for public worship, and so I am not in position to make any decision or have anything to discuss with PCCs. However, I am deeply conscious that in our context we have a significant population of vulnerable people, including a number of people who are clinically shielded, and there is a general level of nervousness over the pace of restriction easing.
It is right to hold all of that in balance, and whatever decision is made, there will be some for whom it is welcome and some for whom it is too soon or too late. We are in times when decisions are being made that have never been made before and everything we do is new exploration. And so, my general position is to take care and to try and keep safe, and yes, to keep moving, but at a pace that is sustainable.
In the absence of further detail at this time my rationale is for the churches to use July for private prayer only, as per the timetable above, and with a view to commencing public worship with a Benefice Service at the beginning of August. As soon as more information is available I will let you know.
User feedback on current worship
We are hugely appreciative of the feedback we get from the various acts of worship we have provided over the past months. Thank you. All of us, i.e. those leading worship and those receiving worship, have had to learn and adapt to new ways of doing things, which like all new things, has been a journey of discovery of things that are good and things that you learn not to do again! It has been, and continues to be, a big learning curve all round.
It takes a significant amount of time to put together and deliver worship in these new ways, and as we start to get ready for recommencing worship in buildings again, we need to carefully think through how we balance the resources available. It will be necessary to continue with some forms of what we are doing already as it will not be possible for all people to suddenly come to church again, and we are also reaching people now that we didn't reach before.
Revd Philip Butcher
You might have had today, June 4th, in your diaries for our Synod meeting, and along with so many other meetings, of course this one is not possible just yet.
But the Deanery is still here! with the website and a new Facebook page and all of us scattered around the area.
I hope that you have been able to join in with worship through your Benefices and national radio and television broadcasting and for more personal conversations, the telephone I know has been a vital connection for many of us.
Ann, Greg and I will look forward to planning the next meeting, whenever that can be, allowing plenty of time for sharing the insights as well as the sadnesses of this strange time.
For some of you as Synod Representatives, it may be time to move on from this particular role, but you will always be welcome to meetings, and I hope that many will be able to come to our first 'proper' meeting where we will share Holy Communion and I am sure, meet with full hearts once more together in the presence of God.
News headlines in brief are that:
- Seven Sowers Benefice is waiting to proceed with interviews for a Rector
- Revd Katharine Hawksley is to move this month from Chard to the Cam Vale Benefice Camel and her first Incumbency
- Advertisements have been re-issued for the Youth Pioneer in Chard/Ilminster
- We await the time to begin advertising for a priest at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Chard
- Deborah Perreau is soon to be Licensed virtually as our Deanery Mission Priest and she will write on the Website about this new role
Our churches have been locked up, but, as we are so often reminded, the real Church lives in ourselves as the Body of Christ in homes, workplaces and communities.
Essentially, the Spirit within and amongst us is unhindered by limitations of time or space -and now that we have celebrated Ascension and Pentecost and are in Ordinary Time, many of us will be returning to Common Worship Daily Prayer which for Thursday includes some inspiring and encouraging reminders from Isaiah 42 and 43:
I have given you as a light to the nations
and I have called you in righteousness ...
Thus says God who created the heavens
who fashioned the earth and all that dwells in it
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
when you pass through the waters I will be with you,
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned.
I am the Lord and I have called you in righteousness.
I have taken you by the hand and kept you.
In uncertain times, and when we are weary and saddened by grief or loneliness, let us lift up our hands and hearts to God who says clearly and mercifully that the Spirit gives us life and assures us that we are taken by the hand and kept in care and kindness.
Blessings, in the name of Christ,
On this website, you will find various pages including:
Prayer, and a weekly Meditation called Gathering Light
Art & Music, where members of the Deanery share music, poetry and images related to the season
What Matters, for our ongoing engagement with community and global matters such as modern-day slavery and Green issues.
For now, while our physical space is confined, may our hearts and minds be free to love God and neighbours in all the ways we can, and we continue to pray for all who are suffering or working to relieve the ill effects of Covid-19.
We are a group of six Benefices and two single Parishes in South Somerset; we are part of the Taunton Archdeaconry. As members of the Church of England and in common with all Christians, we are inspired by the love of God and are committed to following the Way of Christ in our lives and our worship.
If you would like to know more about Christian faith, please do be in touch with any of us and we would be delighted to talk to you. We aim to make all of our 36 churches open and accessible, and you will be welcomed at any service on Sundays or weekdays.
We also want to share the love of God and the hope we have been given in our communities.
Our particular Deanery mission is to ask ourselves:
which means; what is important to the people of our parishes? What are the real concerns of daily life? What kind of issues are there for communities or the natural environment in our area?
And then: Who is part of the response to these matters? Which are the organisations involved already, or might become involved, and how do we as Church members join in or initiate a caring and effective response?
What matters a great deal to us is the safety and well being of all members of our communities and as churches we operate careful Safeguarding Policy practices.
We hope that you will be able to use this website to find information, and to join in our vision of deepening and extending the work of the Holy Spirit in the Deanery.
Revd Judith Abbott
Please email any enquiries to: