Welcome Back at the Start of a New Term

 A very warm welcome to everyone at the start of a new academic year. For those who have been able to take holiday, I hope you have found ways to have some rest and relaxation even if there has still been some anxiety and disruption because of Covid. August was a quieter month across St John’s with St Mary’s, and Oli and I were able to have some time away with our families. Rev Ed Hanson, a local retired minister, was able to help with some of our services, including covering at very short notice when I had to self-isolate – a big thanks to him. The Family Food club ran through the summer holidays on Tuesdays and a lot of people contributed time, abilities and finances to making this a really successful project. Thank you very much to everyone involved! The hot food, parcels and family activities were well received and much appreciated by the 16 or 17 families who regularly attended. It was also good to partner with nearby churches such as St Mary’s, Osterley, and Maswell Park Evangelical church.

As we adjust to the new term and the “new normal” of life at this phase of the pandemic, for this Sunday and next Sunday, we have decided to run the services in much the same way we did through August. So, this will mean we continue with social distancing in services and we won’t have singing or the option for teas and coffees, and for now there won’t be a YouTube service. When our church PCC meets in mid-September we will hopefully agree a plan for the autumn which will cover how we organise our church services, how we run our kids groups and activities, and how we run church online and so on. I hope you can appreciate that we have attempted a wide variety of things over the last 18 months, and now comes the tricky phase of moving in a direction where we worship in the ways we remember and miss from before the pandemic, while also wanting to maintain some of the innovations that have been helpful and, importantly, ensuring church is a safe and welcoming place for everyone too. Let’s keep praying for each other – at church, and in places of work, care homes, schools etc. where everyone is making difficult decisions in the current context about how best to safely gather people and organise our common life. May we all know God’s joy, peace and wisdom this term and beyond!

In the meantime, the Wednesday midweek communion services will start next Wednesday the 8th September at 9.30am at St John’s and the online Morning Prayer on YouTube will start again from next Tuesday the 7th September, available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8.30am (click here for our YouTube channel). To attend church either tomorrow or next Sunday, please continue to book via the links (see below in the newsletter). I look forward to seeing you all in person soon.

Dave Maclure