Vicar's update 15th MarchSteve Newbold1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging 
Psalm 46:1-3
We are living through unprecedented times and it is important that we pray and step forward together, remembering that God is in control and is longing to help us.  

At St Stephen’s we are all trying to keep up with the changes required of us and I want to assure you that we are doing all that we can to continue to ensure that Church is a safe place where we can come without fear, particularly for those who are older or more vulnerable.  

  •          We have increased our cleaning regime to ensure that places we touch are regularly disinfected
  •          We are encouraging all who visit the building to wash their hands on arrival and when with us in accordance with Government guidelines
  •          We are no longer using Service Booklets at 9am on Sunday – all liturgy will be on the screens.  Any papers handed out will be by those with clean hands
  •          We are discouraging all physical contact such as handshakes & hugs and will not be ‘sharing the Peace’ or ‘laying on of hands’
  •          We will only receive Communion in one kind (just the bread) and clergy, servers and all involved in setting up will wash their hands and use hand sanitiser before touching the bread and wine
  •          We have changed the way that we serve Sunday refreshments to ensure using disposable cups and limiting touch to those who serve.
  •          We are exploring live streaming some parts of the service for those who are unable to attend church As you will know things are changing quickly and what we did today may well change before next Sunday.   

As we fight Coronavirus we are also fighting a Spiritual battle and we announced this morning that we are calling the whole church to a day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday 25th March.  We hope that we can all participate in some way – more details to come.
As we journey through Lent and approach Easter we have many special services and events planned.  These include:
Sunday 22nd March     Mothering Sunday (note the Cake Sale has been postponed)
Saturday 28th March   10am – 12.30pm Quiet Morning
Sunday 29th March      3.30pm Songs of Praise
We hope that these will continue but am sure that you understand that they may need to be cancelled at short notice – we will keep you posted.
This is a time when many are fearful and it is easy for us all to retreat and ignore others.  Archbishop Justin Welby has reminded us that one way to avoid being overwhelmed by fear is by helping others; perhaps by picking up some shopping for someone, making a contribution to the Food Bank or just by keeping in touch by phone with those who are isolated.
The Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter have a guest who has moved into accommodation and has asked for the following items.  
Towels, Bath mats, Laundry hamper, Storage drawers, Tea towels, Bread board, Kitchen knives, Kitchen utensils, Microwave, Toaster, Mugs, Cereal bowls, Pots and pans, Frying pan, Chest of drawers, Low coffee table, Small sofa bed, Double quilt and pillows, TV. 

If any of you can help, could you contact Sue Charlton direct.

Finally, I also announced this morning that Chris Willis, our Youth Worker has been appointed as the full time Youth & Children’s Worker at Herne Hill Baptist Church.  He will leave us at the end of April.  Chris has been with us for 2½ years and we will miss his hard work, enthusiasm and creativity but wish him well in his new role.   
Do take care – and I pray that you all keep well.