APCM arrangements

I am writing to you this week primarily about the APCM (the Annual Parochial Church Meeting) which is to be held, as many of you already know, on Sunday 4 October at 7.30pm.

I am sorry we were unable to send this letter last week, as intended, but we have had to wait to receive the go ahead from the diocese of Guildford in light of the government’s latest guidelines which came into force on 14 September.

Priority Booking

Given that we need to accommodate the various church ‘officers’ (the two churchwardens, myself and the treasurer), plus those involved in enabling the APCM to run, we are limited for spaces in the church. Therefore, the wardens and I suggest that, as with our first services in church, we give priority to those who cannot easily access the meeting via the internet (we have a list of these members of our church) to book in for the meeting. Therefore, if this applies to you, we would be glad if you would please ring the church office (01372 842071 between 9am and 1pm, Monday to Friday) by Monday 28 September to book your place. If any places remain there will be a booking form on the APCM information page from Tuesday 29 September listing the number of spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis. If this does not appear, this means there are no spaces left.

Zoom Booking and Signing-in

Please join the zoom meeting at 7.30pm on Sunday 4 October.

To join by audio only from any phone, dial 0203 481 5240 (charged at local rates) and when prompted enter the following:

  • Meeting ID: 853 6541 1762
  • Passcode: 578360013

Annual Report and Meeting Agenda

The agenda and annual report will be available on the APCM information page. If you require a paper copy of either of these, please contact the office team, who will print them and arrange to deliver them to you.

Other presentations made during the course of the meeting will be shown on the church screen and on zoom.

Nominations

Nomination forms for both a new churchwarden and up to 6 members of the PCC will be available on the APCM information page. If you wish to have any of these posted to you, please ring the office.

All nomination forms should be returned please to the PCC secretary, Mrs Sue Procter: 

In theory, nominations are accepted right up until the meeting itself. However, as they require both the nominee, plus a proposer and seconder to sign them, in practice this takes a little time and preparation. (Please note that we have decided that scanned signatures are acceptable this year.)

Please pray carefully about who to nominate and give your nominee the time to prayerfully reflect upon whether this is the right step. The wardens and I are happy to receive enquiries from anyone considering standing for the PCC.

Voting

Voting is an integral part of any annual meeting and so we are making careful preparations for counting votes both from those physically present in the meeting and from those at home on zoom. Please rest assured that this will be a ‘real’ meeting in all respects and voting will be explained clearly on the night.

Questions

It would help us enormously if you could please submit questions in advance of the meeting. To this end, please send them by Thursday 1 October to Sue Procter, the PCC secretary, using the email address for her given above.

The Churchwardens, Treasurer and I are really looking forward to being able to celebrate with you all that God has done in and through Your Church – St Andrew’s Oxshott over the year from April 2019 – April 2020, so please do join us if you possibly can.

Blessings,

Services of Holy Communion at St Andrew’s

It has been so wonderful to see a good number of you in the past month in church, either at private prayer or for Listen & Pray. I think many of us have been surprised by how unexpectedly moving and emotional these simple gatherings have been.

Building on this positive experience to date, I am glad to write that (unless anything untoward happens between now and then) we shall resume holding services of Holy Communion at St Andrew’s, starting on 6 September. This letter is to inform you of the details, so please do take note and pass the news on! I shall set these out as a list to make referring to them straightforward:

  1. Identical Communion services 10am on Sundays and Wednesdays from September

    From the first Sunday in September we shall hold two identical services of Holy Communion each week at St Andrew’s until further notice. Both will take place at 10am.  One will be held on Sunday and the other on Wednesday morning. This is because current capacity in church due to observing the Covid-19 guidelines is limited to somewhere between 25-35 at any one time. Listen & Pray will still be available to everyone via the website and will be screened during both Communion services.

  2. How do I decide which service to attend?

    The wardens and I strongly suggest that if you are at work during the week you should come to the service on a Sunday. Conversely, if you have flexibility over how you use your weekdays, please would you attend the service on Wednesday mornings. If in doubt, please ring the office.

  3. Booking

    We need to ask you to continue to book for these services, as previously. In summary, please go to Bookings for Listen & Pray in church or ring the office (01372  842071) between 9am and 1pm, Monday to Friday.  There will always be some spare capacity for visitors.

  4. What will it be like?

    Things will remain much as they have been during August, with everyone required to wear masks and seated 2m apart during the services (except for those sharing a bubble, who can sit together). As you book a place you will be sent (via email or post) a document giving further information about what to expect. Please contact the office if you have any concerns or queries.

 

I know that these arrangements still fall far short of what we would all prefer. However, let us do as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5.11

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Blessings,

Listen & Pray in church

St Andrew’s church building has been open now for four occasions for private prayer, and although numbers attending remain small, I know it has been a real comfort to some. And so we move to the next stage: opening the church for a ‘service’. This will first happen on 9 August and will continue through to the end of the month, by which time we are planning further opportunities to worship together, including celebrating Holy Communion.

These summer ‘services’ will simply be Listen & Pray screened in church. We had planned to have the preacher and pray-er deliver their parts ‘live’ but the obligation to wear masks in church has meant a change to our plans as these will make it more difficult to hear people speak (and impossible to lip-read), especially for those of us who have hearing difficulties. However, I hope that some of the disappointment will be assuaged by the fact that myself and Patrick, our new curate, will be present in church to welcome you in person, as well as the assembled group of around 25 people (depending on how many ‘bubbles’ there are): it really will be good to see a few of our church family. 10am has been chosen as that is also when it is suggested that internet-users watch Listen & Pray online so there will be quite a community of us gathered simultaneously!

Sadly, we need to ask you to continue to book to attend anything happening in the church building, in order that we are abiding by all the rules and guidelines sent to us on a worryingly regular basis from the government, the House of Bishops and the diocese of Guildford. The wardens, office team and I long for the day when we can just let everyone come! However, please rest assured that everything we are doing is for the safety of everyone, including the most vulnerable among us.

For the first Listen & Pray in church we want to give priority to those (around 20 or so) whom we are acutely aware have been unable to join in with anything posted on the website as they have little or no access to the internet. The office will be sending invitations to these people on Friday. If you receive one, please ring the office by 1pm on Tuesday 4 August to confirm whether you are able to attend, otherwise, it will be assumed that you do not intend to come.

From Wednesday morning 5 August, can I encourage everyone else who wishes to attend to book themselves and their family in, either using the booking form on the church website or by ringing the office between 9am and 1pm up to and including Friday. The list will close on Friday at lunchtime. Booking enables us both to track and trace and also to set out the chairs in the correct configuration for the particular combination of ‘bubbles’ of people attending for that particular week.

For the following Sundays in August, all are welcome to book for this short service of Listen & Pray, so please be in touch via the website or by phone. It will only be possible to book for the following Sunday and (if booking by phone) during office hours from Monday to Friday lunch-time, when the list for that week will be closed. If you are in any doubt, please ring the Church Office on 01372 842071.

Everyone attending is asked to follow the instructions of the Welcomers and is strongly advised to wear a mask, please. Wearing these is not for our own sake but again to help protect the most vulnerable among us.  Please bring your own mask if possible, although a small supply of them will be available. Similarly, please bring your own Bible with you.

Finally, I want to thank all the Warden, Office, Welcomer and Publicity teams (especially Mike Shand), for working so hard to complete these arrangements to enable more of us to meet in church again; it really has been a huge task and I am so grateful to them all. Perhaps you could encourage them too if you see them!

I am very aware this is rather a detailed letter so please, if you are confused, do ring the office, where Rowena will be very glad to help you.

Blessings,

Families & Children’s Worker Vacancy

Are you someone who wants to love, engage, and disciple families and younger children?

We’re a lively church. We’re growing and looking for great people to join our team. We’re seeking a visionary and creative person to help us build and develop fruitful relationships with the many young families in our community in Oxshott, Surrey.

You’ll be someone who:

  • Is passionate about bringing families to Jesus and nurturing them
  • Has experience with children aged 0-11
  • Can lead teams of volunteers in building and executing an integrated programme of activities
  • Is a prayerful Christian, open to God and the work of the Holy Spirit

Hours can be flexible by mutual arrangement (from 25 to 37.5) but will need to include Sundays and some evening commitments.  Salary £22,000 plus possible further help towards transport or housing. There is a genuine occupational requirement for the postholder to be a Christian and an Enhanced Plus level DBS is also necessary.

For an informal chat about the role, please ring Frances (the vicar) on 01372 802316. The job description, application form and more information about us are available below.

Please complete the application form and email it to:

by 12 noon on Friday 18 September 2020.

 

 

 

Summer time at St Andrew’s

It’s exactly twenty days since I wrote my last pastoral letter and I wanted to let you know of a couple of new developments coming up at St Andrew’s, Oxshott.

The first is that, starting this week, we shall switch to classic Oxshott ‘Summer-time’.  This means that whilst we will continue to record Listen & Pray every week for the foreseeable future, the style of the images, music and prayers around the talks in our summer series on Luke will vary on alternate weeks between a more traditional 9.15 style and a more informal 11am one.  This is similar to what we usually do in the school summer holidays; namely, hold all our services at 10am and vary the style between Holy Communion and Oxshott Praise.  I do hope that in doing this with Listen & Pray, we can appeal to the full range of worshippers who are members of the church family at St Andrew’s and those who have newly joined us via the internet.

We shall begin this Sunday 26 July, with an Oxshott Praise style Listen & Pray. On 2 August it will have a more formal style and continue to alternate throughout the rest of July and August.  There will be a reminder in the Weekly News available on our website or posted direct to your home.

Secondly, last night the PCC agreed that we could start to hold a short form of worship in church on Sundays beginning on 9 August  –  provided nothing changes in the meantime.  This will essentially be Listen & Pray done in real life.  For the first week, we intend to invite those who have not been able to watch and participate in Listen & Pray online because they have no access to the internet.

Your wardens and I will be continuing to work hard on the arrangements and paperwork involved in this exciting next step and we would be really grateful for your prayers as we do so.  There will be information to pass on about this, which I will send out in a further letter next week, so please watch this space!

As I write, the third session of opening the church for private prayer has started and I am pleased to report that all is going well. The Welcomers have been excellent and are pleased that things have gone smoothly. Those coming to pray have felt safe and free to spend time on their own in the familiar, peaceful surroundings of the church building.  We currently have room for more to attend each week, so do encourage friends and neighbours to come, preferably by booking ahead please.

Finally, a prayer of blessing from Romans 15.13 (NRSV)

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

News from Pakistan

Open Theological Seminary & Sialkot Diocese – our Partners in Pakistan

Carl, our Treasurer is delighted this week that transfers to OTS in Pakistan have gone through smoothly! This comprised a further contribution to the OTS Compassion Campaign distributing food to 3,000 to the neediest families with the help of the local churches, plus £3,000, our full year commitment to OTS. This sum finances delivery of a lay training and discipleship programme.

Qaiser Julius, OTS Director writes: ‘I phoned Bishop Alvin who confirmed that the pastors of the Sialkot Diocese have also been affected significantly due to Covid-19. So we went to help the 28 pastors last Saturday through a Rural Pastors Support (RPS) program providing help of PKR 10,000, equivalent to 50 Sterling, to each pastor.’

As you pray for Pakistan it may help you to watch or listen to a Pakistan version of The Blessing, including some brief prayers over Pakistan in Urdu:

Thank God for:

  • OTS’ Rural Pastors Support program & also Bishop Andrew’s successful May Appeal to assist Sialkot with paying their clergy this year (to which we gave £1,000)
  • Timely conversations with Bishop Alwin last Saturday about the discipleship program

Please pray for:

  • The people and Church of Pakistan, so severely impacted in every way by Covid-19
  • All 28 pastors of Sialkot Diocese and their families, without income for many months
  • Revds Samsun Anjun & Asher Gill, who lead locally in the discipleship programme
  • Effective next steps in growing the discipleship programme in Sialkot Churches

Mission Partnering Committee

New Wine – ‘United Breaks Out’

30 July – 3 August 2020

Across homes, gardens and communities – teaching, worship and prayer ministry for all ages and abilities.

As St Andrew’s church we are excited to link in as New Wine gathers together somewhat unusually this summer, across homes, gardens and communities, for a free online event for all ages and abilities. This is a great opportunity to experience something different, to be encouraged, to deepen our faith and to engage with the wider church during a challenging time. The programme includes:

  • Morning & evening teaching, worship & prayer ministry, afternoon TED-style seminars, sofa sessions, Q&As and webinars.
  • Kids morning sessions packed with songs, stories and gunge, afternoon fun and games and an Augmented Reality App.
  • Luminosity (youth) breakfast time devotions & chat, challenges, workshops, evening celebrations & after parties.
  • 1-2-1 prayer slots, mission consultations & international gatherings for Leaders, plus discussions about ‘What’s next for the local church?’, ‘Leading & well-being’ and ‘Mission & planting’.
  • Local church Community Makers creating fellowship and connection in our homes and communities during the event

Sign up to Event & Resource updates to find out more or visit new-wine.org/breaksout

#UnitedBreaksOut

Church re-opening for prayer

I know that for many, the closure of our church building has been one of the most difficult aspects of the whole of lockdown. Therefore, I am really pleased to let you know that we are ready to open St Andrew’s, Oxshott, for individual, private prayer beginning on 8 July. Preparation to reach this point has been exacting and time-consuming and I am very grateful indeed to the wardens and office teams especially, plus the members of the PCC, Ministry team and Welcomers who have worked hard and will be working hard to make this possible.

We shall be starting small with a maximum of 6 people at any one time (5 booked places and space for one ad hoc visitor) on a Wednesday afternoon between 4 and 7pm. The timing is to enable the widest range of individuals to attend. The day was chosen because it fits with the availability of personnel to assist those who visit our church (and it also enables the important 72-hour interval required between different people entering the building).

People will be able to book a 30-minute time-slot for prayer by either visiting the website and booking direct or by contacting the office: we believe that a booking system is necessary for tracking and tracing people in the event of a local outbreak of the virus. Each person with a booking will be told the time which they are expected to arrive. By using this system we aim to avoid large groups of people and to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Bookings will close at 5pm on a Tuesday for that week’s opening, so that welcomers will know they have an up-to-date list.

When someone arrives, a monitor will check that person’s identity and contact details and that each visitor washes their hands with hand sanitiser (which will be provided). Everyone coming into church will also need to wear a mask (there will be a small supply available, but you are encouraged to provide your own if possible, please). Each person will then be asked to follow the one-way system signage to an empty seat for quiet, individual prayer. All chairs will be set at a 2m distance from each other, to comply with Church of England guidance. We will also be using the un-upholstered chairs to enable effective cleaning between each visitor. Everyone will leave via the south door of the church where there will be a second person available to help and make sure each person washes their hands with sanitiser once more.

Parts of the church building will necessarily be inaccessible, and this will include the toilets, although the disabled toilet will be available for emergencies.

These protocols and systems may initially seem both rather baffling and unnecessarily restrictive. However, we are concerned to enable the church building to re-open in Oxshott in the safest way possible for the largest number, including those of us who fall into the vulnerable categories identified by the Government at the outset of the pandemic.

We are also keen to enable someone who visits the church building on the off-chance to come in to pray. To this end we will try always to leave at least one seat free to accommodate such visitors.

As I mentioned above, we are starting small in the hope that over time we might be able to add to what will be available from Wednesday 8 July. We will also keep this system under constant review. Naturally, if we need to, we will suspend church opening immediately.

 A short summary of the main points:

In everything we have outlined above, we are trying to keep the most vulnerable people in both our church family and community safe. As I have written before, we follow this principle:

But God has so arranged the body… that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. (1 Corinthians 12.24-26)

It will be so wonderful to be able to open the church doors again and welcome those who wish to pray!

Blessings,

StAks@home has arrived!

As the school holidays approach, we thought it would be great to get all our StAks and their friends together online to have some fun!

Under normal circumstances, StAks (St Andrew’s kids) meet at church from 11am-12noon on Sundays for fun, games, songs, bible stories and crafts. But as that isn’t possible at the moment, StAks@home is a new opportunity for children and young people to enjoy songs, actions, bible stories and prayers.

You will find videos and other resources specially developed for school age children, older children and young people, and pre-schoolers.

And here’s the difference… We want you to have the chance to take part in future videos! So how creative can you be? When you’ve watched the videos, why not tell us what you liked about them, and how you might like to take part next time. Maybe you and your family could sing a song together, or show how to make something, or record some family prayers. Or you might want to read the bible story for us. Whatever it is, we’d love you to get in touch.

We would also like to be able to let you know when the next video or activities are posted on the website. Please just fill in your contact details on the keep in touch form and we’ll do the rest.

 

Black Lives Matter

I wonder how you respond to this headline: with frustration, anger, approval, exasperation?  You may even be cross with me for bringing this subject up. But as it has featured in my email communication with members of the parish recently, I wanted to reflect publicly about it.

Recently, a black friend of mine told me the story of how, shortly before lockdown, she was walking through a local shopping centre when she was approached by a man of approximately 20–30 who walked straight towards her. At the last moment she swerved to make way for him only to hear him mutter, ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh!’ and raise his arms in imitation of a monkey as he walked past her.

We may believe that racism is a thing of the past in a civilised society, but, sadly, my friend’s experience in 2020 shows that it is still alive and kicking, whether overtly or perhaps even more likely covertly in our unconscious biases and stereotypes.

We may want to counter by saying that, ‘All Lives Matter’. And clearly they do, for God both created and loves everyone.

‘But just at the moment, it is vital that we acknowledge how Black Lives Matter – in our words, deeds and imagining,’  

 as Bishop Jo, Bishop of Dorking wrote to all Guildford clergy on 18 June. I commend her whole piece to you – you can find it here.

In a tweet on 8 June, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote this:

‘The racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The Church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action.’

I wonder if and how racism has affected you? I do hope that if you are from a BAME background that you have been made welcome at St Andrew’s or in any of the Oxshott community activities. Perhaps we could all take the opportunity to do what the archbishop says. First, to examine ourselves (including in prayer, asking God to help) and, if necessary, repent of our attitudes or actions (or even our inaction). Secondly, we might consider what actions we as a church or as a community might need to take to be welcoming to everyone, because ‘All Lives Matter’ to God and to all of us. This is a huge subject and we will return to it but do please let me know if you have any reflections on this.

Blessings,