Only a few weeks ago, I would not have believed you if you had told me that on 17 March I would receive an instruction from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to suspend all public acts of worship in St Andrew’s Oxshott. But the unbelievable has now happened.
Since then, I have been very grateful to key members of the church community for their guidance and help in creating a host of different responses, which I am writing to share with you now.
What about Church?
Of course, the church is us, wherever we are, not the building. Nonetheless, alongside the promised services to be broadcast nationally (for example on the BBC TV and Radio 4) and other professionally produced resources (see bit.ly/cofe-guidance) we will be producing something weekly from your local church which we are calling ‘Listen & Pray’, available on our website on Sundays. This will include a short talk on a Bible passage, followed by prayers written for us by some of our intercessors and the Ministry Team. Our website will explain how to access ‘Listen & Pray’, and copies of some services (such as Morning Prayer) will also be available to download.
What about Fellowship?
Many of us will miss the fellowship of meeting together, especially in these rather worrying times. At St Andrew’s, we have focused fellowship beyond the church building in Life Groups, who meet regularly in someone’s home to share coffee, bible-study, prayer and whatever is happening in our lives.
Whilst we cannot meet physically, several of our Life Groups have found that it is possible to enjoy a sense of community meeting ‘virtually’. For now, we are encouraging every Life Group to ‘meet’ in this way if possible. Those who are not yet members of such a group who would like to join one (even on a temporary basis) should contact Patrick Fleming (at or via the Church Office) or ask a friend which one they belong to.
What about Prayer?
Our regular prayer times (at 9am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) will continue via Zoom. The invitation to join these will appear on the website.
Importantly too, we are encouraging everyone to join the Archbishop of Canterbury in lighting a candle at 7pm on Mothering Sunday to show that Christ, the light of the world, triumphs over the darkness of this world. We commend this as a weekly habit, accompanied by saying prayers, such as those available on our website.
What about being Church in the Community?
We will deliver a leaflet with the Magazine soon, offering everyone who needs it the promise of practical support, such as shopping, picking up prescriptions and regular telephone calls. If you, or anyone you know, needs such support, please be in touch via the church office ( or 01372 842071). The Pastoral Team (plus other volunteers) is already aware of many who are vulnerable for different reasons who live in Oxshott, and we have been in touch by phone to reassure and remind them of the support available. In these ways we hope that we can serve the community and ‘be the Church’. Other ideas are welcome; again, please contact the church office.
What about Hope?
One verse from the letter Paul wrote to the new Christian church in Rome has been constantly in my mind over the past few days and I share it with you here:
‘Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble, stand firm; persist in prayer.’ (Romans 12:12)
God, our heavenly Father, knows the end from the beginning. He knows how this virus will affect each of us and He is there to walk this path with us, giving us courage, hope and peace.