The Parish Office, 5a Plymouth Road, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8AU Tel: 01822 617432 Email: email@example.com
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I hope everyone continues to be safe and well. I write, as promised, to keep you up-to-date with matters which affect our churches.
You will know from the latest Government announcement that the Step 4 date of the roadmap has been put back to 19thJuly when the next review will be undertaken. The Archdeacon has today written to say that the Church of England will advise clergy and parishes further on Thursday, 22nd July regarding the next steps we will be able to take. I will keep you fully informed and I look forward to resuming our activities in our churches as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. For everyone’s wellbeing, we are asked to continue to proceed cautiously and in accordance with national guidelines. Please be assured that I am doing all I can to ensure we remain within the guidelines issued.
Thankfully our church buildings can remain open for public worship and prayer. Whilst I look forward to restrictions on worship being lifted in the near future, it remains the case that congregational singing indoors is not permitted, and our choirs are limited to a maximum of six singers at any one time.
The Government has increased the number of people permitted to attend a wedding from the limit of 30 people to the “COVID secure” capacity of our individual church buildings. This is good news.
Along with other organizations and groups in our community, we have, of course, had to re-assess our plans for the coming weeks and it has been decided that, sadly, we will have to postpone The Friends’ Summer Fete planned for Saturday 26th June. Whilst I know this is disappointing news, based on the guidance and advise we have received, it is the right thing to do given the current circumstances. The good news however is that The Friends’ have decided it should be possible to go ahead and hold the fete on Saturday 7th August. I am grateful to them for all their work on this, and continued commitment to the event taking place. Please keep this date free and support our Fete if you are able to do so.
Living in Love & Faith
You may have seen from our on-line magazine that beginning on Thursday, 1st July 2021, I am holding a five week course via ZOOM to consider how questions about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage fit within the bigger picture of the good news of Jesus Christ. The national church is asking us to think about what it means to live in love and faith together as a church and Christians in Devon are being invited to “listen and learn together” by running the Church of England’s “Living in Love and Faith” course which explore these issues.
Living in Love and Faith (LLF) is a five-week course supported by a wide range of recourses prepared by the national church. The resources include a book, study guides, podcasts and a powerful series of real-life personal story films. The course book (see details later) begins with an invitation from the Bishops of the Church of England to embark on a learning journey. The course aims to help us think more deeply about what it means to be human and about how to live in love and faith. All around us we see changing understandings of human identity, changing patterns in relationships and families, changing sexual attitudes and activity. What does it mean for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today? Each of the five sessions explores a particular topic. An opening reflection about learning together is followed by two sessions of teaching, time for discussion, and a Bible study. The sessions end with an invitation to reflect on our learning, bringing it to God in prayer. The Church of England website says:
“The hope is for people in Church of England churches across the country to use the LLF resources to study and pray together. The resources are designed to encourage and enable engagement and learning in a variety of settings. This church-wide learning together, listening to one another, and listening to God is part of discerning a way forward for the Church of England in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. The purpose of the resources is to enable the Church of England churches across the country to participate in a process of learning and praying together as part of discerning a way forward in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
The Church of England is keenly aware that issues of gender and sexuality are intrinsic to people’s experience; their sense of identity; their lives and the loving relationships that shape and sustain them. We also know that the life and mission of our Church – and of the worldwide Anglican Communion – are affected by the deep, and sometimes painful, disagreements among us which have been debated and discussed on many occasions over the years.
These divisions have come into sharper focus because of society’s changing perspectives and practices, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people. The Church wants to understand what it means to follow Christ in love and faith given the questions about human identity and the variety of patterns of relationship emerging in our society, including marriage, civil partnership, cohabitation, celibacy and friendship.
The LLF resources explore these matters by studying what the Bible, theology, history and the social and biological sciences have to say, and by telling the real-life stories of followers of Christ with diverse experiences and convictions.
We hope that people in worshipping communities across the country will get involved and use the resources to learn together. That is why there is a range of resources in a variety of formats.
We believe that the Holy Spirit will be active among us as we pray, study and deliberate together to discover Christ’s call to the Church today. We do this with a deep sense of hopefulness for a future in which Christians can follow Christ together joyfully, fruitfully and with integrity.”
All the resources can be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/living-love-and-faith.The course book “Living in Love & Faith” is also available from Church House Publishing.
If you would like to take part in the course (Thursday, 7.00 pm via ZOOM), then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and a ZOOM link will be sent to you. The course dates are:
Thursday 1st July 2021
Thursday 8th July 2021
Thursday 15th July 2021
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Thursday 29th July 2021
A further “face-to-face” course is also being considered for September, possibly in Brentor, but details are yet to be finalized. I will let you know more about is due course.
Please be assured of my continued love and prayers.