An update from Rachel…

Dear friends,

We are in unprecedented times, and we are all trying to adjust to the new situation in which we find ourselves. As I’m sure you are already aware, the government advice updated earlier this week. The Church of England has further updated its advice too, and I can confirm that I have now temporarily closed St Mark’s Church this week, until further notice.

We will continue to share Sunday Worship on our youtube channel, at 9:30am on Sunday mornings. We will be putting this service together with Lymington Church too, and offering it to both congregations. I will be recording it from the Vicarage, as I am also not able to go to church in the light of the latest advice. Do tune in if you are able to.

For those in our congregation without internet access, please remind them that they are welcome to listen to the audio of our service by phoning in to zoom.

You will be able to phone into this, if you would like to and listen to the service. At the end of the service, the conference call will stay open, a bit like coffee in St Mark’s Room, and you will be able to chat with others who have phoned in. This conference call number is only for those people on our electoral roll or who usually attend St Mark’s Church. If you watch the service online, you are welcome to phone into the call after the service, to talk to others at church.

To phone in, please dial 0203 695 0088. You will hear: “Welcome to Zoom, enter your meeting id followed by hash”

The meeting id you need to enter is: 971 631 0618 #

You will then hear it say “Enter your participant id followed by hash, otherwise just press hash”

Please just press the # key. You will then be part of a conference call, and you will be able to talk to others from the church that have already joined it.

After the service has finished, as members of our congregation, I invite you, if you would like to, to join us on zoom for a virtual ‘coffee’ after the service, and be able to chat to each other. You can either phone in, as above, or join online:

Lymington Church are continuing to offer the Lent course, now available online. Please do have a look: https://lymingtonchurch.org/lent-course-2020/

As you are aware, we were already working on knitted and crocheted spring flowers for our churchyard hedge. We have decided to extend this, and are encouraging people to continue knitting & crocheting flowers, or other symbols of love, hope and peace. There are drop off points at One Stop and Visual Vibes. Please do not take them into Pennington Pharmacy. We are no longer able to offer to collect any that you make at home. Please store them at home until it is safe for us to collect them.

If you would like to send your photos in, please do send them to takepart@penningtonchurch.uk I have moved all the photos to the Vicarage, to help me as I lead worship for us, in this different space. If you have particular prayer requests, please send them to sayoneforme@penningtonchurch.uk

We usually issue a print magazine at this time. Given the current situation, we will no longer be printing a magazine. Next week we will be creating an online version and sharing it with you.

Various people have been asking how to help in practical ways. The NHS are recruiting volunteers to help with various different things. If you are able and willing to support the community in this way, please sign up here: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

The Town Council have also shared this:

As per the PM’s instruction on 22 March 2020, a network of community hubs is being set up across the UK to assist with the delivery of food supplies to the 1.5 million people with serious medical conditions told to stay indoors for 12 weeks because of Coronavirus. The Town Council is working closely with the New Forest District Council (Hampshire County Council being the lead), and the community and voluntary sector across our area to ensure that we can assist those who need it most during the coming weeks.

There will soon be a central support telephone number provided by HCC. Once known, the Town Council (and any other organisations) can advertise this. Queries received by HCC will be channelled to District Councils. NFDC will then utilise the Town Council by delegating to us its Lymington and Pennington queries. We can then contact the appropriate groups to assist.

At this moment, we are compiling a database of services available + volunteers willing to help in our area. If you know of any information, Please do not hesitate to email or telephone Lymington & Pennington Town Council.

My apologies that I’ve not yet got the phone tree sorted out for our church, for keeping us all connected. We will be looking at this next week. Please stay safe, and do all that you can to follow the latest advice, to look after yourself and each other. If you’ve got any questions, please let me know – vicar@penningtonchurch.uk or call me on 01590 462022

With love and prayers,

Rachel


I thought you might find this email helpful, that was shared online.

Meditation on the closing of churches

Churches may be glad of the stillness.
These great stone ships seldom have the chance to
hunker down into replenishing silence.

Christianity is too talkative. Noisy religion.
The Society for Standing Up and Sitting Down Again.
The Society for Annunciation of a Momentary Silence

You see your empty church and see shipwreck
And think that because you are not there in linen robes
with rehearsals of creeds, that prayer is not there.

But your churches and temples are not empty.
Silence is there. Praying in her many houses.
Clergy nor creed nor any religion own Her.
Stillness beyond all religion,
Yet deeply at its core,
Even while you fill temples with the clatter of words.

Let Silence be the guardian and keeper of these stone vessels.
She who keeps the stillness on the ocean’s floor
Who tends the cave where no noise echoes because no noise enters
Hers is the aching heart that hides ancient atomic groan
And her home, the rest between the beats in every heartbeat
Look out to the stars beyond the stars and listen
Listen to Her listening to the listening of your own

Go within and find Her in the hush.
In the breath of alleluia in the night
In the inhalation of hope before waking
Hers is the softness between the breath.
And the hidden quiet light that lingers at a death

Do not fret about your empty church.
Silence holds the space holy
And always did.
She holds all things and mourns all things
She is in all things
She holds every story but her own.
She knows each name, with no need to know her own
Let Silence guard the stillness and the stones.
While you care for the bereaved and those full of fear
That is your creaturely task. The task of all who call each to be priest to each and every other.

And when the great keys are turned, the wooden doors re-open,
Tread gently. Do not rush to fill the stillness

The great stone ships held their prayer for you.
They bade the Absolute to enter in.
They prayed with you.

Honour them with silence of your own

Gilo, (Co-Editor of Letters to a Broken Church)

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