Moving forwards

Thank you for your prayers as the Wardens, Patrick and I met on 31 August to discuss the way forward for St Andrew’s church services and ministries for the next period.

We have decided to prioritise restarting three elements of our normal Sunday pattern:

  • children’s provision every Sunday;
  • each ‘style’ of service to have more of its distinct character (including live music);
  • refreshments.

Therefore, for the time being, we will continue simply to hold one service at 10am on Sundays, alternating in style between Traditional and Contemporary as before. All current guidelines (for example, wearing masks for singing, etc) will remain.

From Wednesday 8 September at 11.30am our mid-week Communion will re-start, as a said, quiet, fully socially distanced service, using traditional liturgy.

We also aim to resume other ministries in this period (such as Craft Group, etc) as soon as risk assessments are completed by the leaders and approved by the wardens.

These decisions have been taken prayerfully, considering the resources we currently have available, and our concern to monitor the Covid infection rates as the schools return. The wardens, Patrick and I will continue to meet regularly to review the situation and the PCC meets on 28 September when this will be an agenda item.

I understand that this is not what we anticipated and hoped for by this stage. However, we continue to hold onto the values expressed in the following verses from Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to freedom.
But do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”’

(Galatians 5.13-14)

Finally,  we recommend that everyone who attends a service or a church activity should take a lateral flow test beforehand. These are available free of charge (in packs of 7) from the government website or by dialing 119 (which is a freephone number, lines open 7am-11pm).

As ever, please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss any of these matters.

Blessings,

Services in Church

I do hope that you are enjoying the summer and the positive effects of the lessening of Covid-19 restrictions. We continue to pray for patience and strength for those of you still waiting to meet up with loved ones; for example, those who live abroad.

I am writing to inform you of the decisions which I have taken with the clergy and wardens of St Andrew’s Oxshott to enable us to move into the new normal, whilst keeping us safe and loving the most vulnerable or anxious. Thank you for your patience with us. In all our decisions we have borne in mind these verses from Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, which I commend to you:

‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to freedom.
But do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:
” Love your neighbour as yourself.”‘                                   (Galatians 5.13-14)

As there are quite a number of separate points to pass on, I have set them out in a list with side-headings to enable you to refer to them as necessary.

Please note that these guidelines come into effect on 15 August.

Services

The current pattern of one 10am service alternating between a traditional or an Oxshott Praise style will continue for August. The Listen & Pray section will be live streamed, and the Communion will not.

Booking

The current booking system is now suspended both for private prayer on Wednesdays and for the service on Sunday at 10am. Please feel free to come.

One way system, Hand sanitizer, Q.R. code

We will retain all of these. Please sign in using the church QR code if possible, so that we can contact you if there is a case of Covid-19 discovered. Please also use the hand sanitizer. The one-way system will be retained.

Masks and Singing

Please continue to wear masks as you enter or move around the building (including when you come up for Communion). Singing for everyone will be re-introduced.  However, we ask that everyone in church should wear a mask whilst standing and singing. Those taking any part in services will continue to wear masks except when actively leading or speaking.

Seating

Seats will be returned to a more normal configuration. The church building will be divided into ‘zones’, with an area of socially distanced seating to the north side and an area towards the south-door where those who do not wish to wear a mask will be directed. Those least happy mixing will sit on the left and towards the back in wider-spaced seats. The welcomers will direct you.

There will also be a supply of ‘Reserved’ signs available to pick up and place on the seats either side of you to help you feel safer. However, please make use of the zones too.

Administration of Communion

We are pleased to offer Communion in both kinds in two alternative ways, using two separate stations:

  1. Wafers intincted (dipped) by the priest into the wine will be available at the chancel steps, where recipients will stand in a line along the step (suitably spaced out)
  2. Wafers and then wine from a common cup will be offered at the steps of the former lady chapel, similarly in a row along the step and standing

Everyone will move forward in a line down the central aisle, before making a choice either to carry on to join the row at the chancel step, or to move to the right (south) to form a row there.  This sounds more complicated than it is: the welcomers will direct you!*

Refreshments

We want to encourage everyone who wishes to linger after the service outside. Until September, we would like to encourage you to bring refreshments (for example, a flask of coffee) ready to share. If the weather is good, please bring picnic rugs to sit on the grass or use the new benches on the terrace.

Provision for Children

We welcome families to attend church, but we are unable to provide separate provision during August. From September, we plan to provide children’s activities from the Oxshott Praise service.

Lateral Flow Tests

Many (especially children) are used to using these ahead of meeting up with others.   Can I encourage you to use these on a weekly basis before attending Church?

I will write a further Pastoral Letter at the end of August giving information about Services from September onwards. Meanwhile, I hope these guidelines will bring joy and encourage you to come!

Blessings,

*Important note:

Under the current circumstances, the clergy of St Andrew’s Oxshott (myself, Patrick and Jolyon) would all prefer to offer wine at Communion in small individual cups, to enable everyone to participate more fully in Communion in two kinds. However, this has been expressly forbidden by the Church of England. The wardens are writing to represent our view to the bishop.

An update from Frances

I am writing to share two updates: first, regarding the plans for the redevelopment of our church ancillary buildings and secondly, concerning the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions by the Government on 19 July.

Redevelopment at St Andrew’s

Since the last BYC update, we have been awaiting The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) response to our plans, and also taking time to absorb the feedback about evolving church and community needs post-covid. The DAC’s site visit (delayed due to lockdown restrictions), has taken place and the Steering Group has subsequently received their report.

In the report, the DAC have raised some challenging questions to help both them and us be sure of our options amidst the complexities of climate crisis and post-covid. Archdeacon Martin has subsequently reassured me that they have no query with our Vision, only with how we develop the very best buildings and space around them to serve that Vision. We know we now need to take time to build more personal relationships with the DAC in order that we might work together to achieve the best outcome for our buildings at St Andrew’s. An important meeting is to be held next week between representatives of the DAC and the St Andrew’s Steering Group to begin this vital process.

Obviously, the timing of the BYC project has been affected. As a result, we have taken the decision to withdraw from the current round of CIL applications, and we are reassured that our re-application will be welcomed.

In the meantime, can I ask you once again to be committed to praying for this initiative as we ask God to encourage and guide us as we attempt to follow His plan for his church in Oxshott.

What will church be like after 19 July?

The second matter I wanted to update you on concerns the Government’s plan to remove all remaining restrictions on 19 July. Whilst this is obviously a wonderful point to have reached in the Covid-19 pandemic, it does not mean that life (and, specifically, services and activities at St Andrew’s Oxshott) will immediately ‘go back to normal.’

Throughout the pandemic, the Anglican Church’s response to Government guidelines has been interpreted for local churches like ours by the House of Bishops. This will remain the case even after 19 July.  In addition, ‘Just because we can, does not mean we should’ (to quote the Diocese of Guildford’s Mission Enabler). In other words, even though restrictions may no longer be imposed upon us by the Government, the wardens and clergy of St Andrew’s will be monitoring things very carefully after 19 July, with no changes being made immediately. I will write to let you know about any proposed changes or lessening of restrictions in church as these are developed, in the same way as when restrictions were first introduced.

I do hope that this is reassuring for everyone.

If you feel that you would like to comment upon either of these updates, please feel free to send your comments or concerns to me via the following email address: (please note carefully the spelling of Frances!)

Blessings,

Revd Frances Trickey, Vicar

An Easter update from Frances

It’s a while since I last wrote to you about BYC, and it may seem that all has gone quiet since the flurry of video presentations and feedback in December and January. However, the picture is more like the swan, apparently gliding on the water with no effort, but under the surface, a good deal has been happening.

Feedback

In my January letter (and at the APCM), I mentioned how grateful we are for the whole range of positive, constructive and challenging comments and questions you presented to us. I also explained how we were planning to address that feedback, dividing it into the things we had already spotted for the architect to address; new ideas we hadn’t yet considered; new or different requirements that need more serious discussion; concerns about timing and or the cost; and suggestions and offers of help.

Preliminary analysis has taken place, and in discussions with the PCC about the next steps, there was a renewed recognition that there are many strands to BYC, which we need to progress simultaneously.  Improving our buildings will be a key enabler of our Vision, launched in 2018, but we also need to understand the new post-pandemic context of our community, develop the ministries we want to prioritise so that they are up and running in good time, talk to our community and not least apply for funding and raise the finance required.  It is a complicated process.

Steering group

On 9 March, the PCC approved the creation of a Steering Group, designed to bring other skills into play alongside the ones so willingly offered already by Norman Steven, Frances Reeve and Jill Mengham. I am immensely grateful to each one of them for shouldering this enormous responsibility for us all thus far.

The additional members of the Steering Group are Ron Stewart (Chair), Ruth Burns and Patrick Fleming. I will join the Steering Group regularly in the role of Project Sponsor. The Steering Group is a temporary sub-committee of the PCC tasked with ensuring we progress our vision through BYC. We really are so blessed to be able to draw such an experienced and skilled group together from within our own church family to achieve this.

One of the immediate tasks of the Steering Group will be to take appropriate action on the detailed analysis of the feedback.

Thank you

Thank you for your involvement and prayers thus far. At this point the most important and valuable support everyone can give is through your prayer. Please continue to pray for every part of the BYC project: for those involved in leading it on our behalf; for God to call people to help with current and new ministries and activities; for Him to go ahead of us to external bodies and open their hearts and minds to this vision for Oxshott; and that God’s vision for the people of St Andrew’s and this community of ‘Followers of Jesus Christ Growing in Faith, Growing in Number and Serving the Community’ will become an amazing reality.

Easter Blessings to you all,

APCM & services in church

I am writing, as promised, to give you details of the proposed re-opening of St Andrew’s Oxshott for in-person services. But I want to start with the news about our APCM on Sunday 28 March (Palm Sunday).

APCM (our Annual Parochial Church Meeting)

Sunday 28 March

7 for 7.30pm

At a meeting today the churchwardens and myself confirmed that we do want to go ahead with our annual meeting on Palm Sunday (as published), even though this means that, according to current guidelines, it must be held entirely online. We are sorry for the disappointment this may cause some of you. We will be working hard in the next week to help those of you with internet capacity but little confidence in using it to join us in whatever way we can, and to provide telephone access for those without the internet. We think we know who most of you are, but if you have any queries, please contact the office.

Everyone is invited to join on zoom from 7pm onwards in order both to admit people in time and so that we can enjoy some social time together before the APCM begins at 7.30pm. As we will be online, we will limit the meeting to an hour. Later in the summer, when we can gather in person, there will be further opportunities to celebrate all that God has done among us in this difficult year.

We have some significant gaps to fill on the PCC, so please pray and be pro-active about inviting church family members to stand for election. All the nomination forms are available online or via the office – as is the annual report itself.

Re-opening the Church

Services

As advertised in Weekly News, we plan to resume by holding a single service on Sundays at 10am. This will be live streamed, followed by a short form of Holy Communion, which will not be broadcast. Each week the service will continue to alternate between a traditional and contemporary (Oxshott Praise) style.

Our first in-person service is planned for Easter Day, 4 April: a great way to celebrate! For this special service we will personally invite all those whom we know have had difficulty accessing our services online.

If you are in this group, your invitation should be enclosed with this letter. Please make sure you respond by the date given so that we know how many (if any) places may be available for others to join you in church on this special day.

Once the number of spare places becomes clear it should be possible (depending upon our risk assessment at the time) for others to book in the usual way for this service, either online or by ringing the office.

For services from 11 April onwards booking will occur in the same way as previously.

Private Prayer

From Wednesday, 7 April the church will be open weekly for private prayer between 10am and 12noon, with bookable times as before. A new development is that Clergy or Ministry Team members will be available during this time to pray with anyone who would appreciate this.

Covid Prevention

All covid prevention rules will need to continue to be observed, even if people have had one or both vaccinations and, sadly, singing is still not permitted.

Further developments

As demand grows, we anticipate re-instating a repeat of the Sunday service on Wednesdays at 10am with private prayer beginning at 11am. Beyond this stage the PCC and Ministry Team will be considering what we are able gradually to introduce. Please pray for guidance for us all.

As ever, there is a lot to take in, so well done if you have made it through to the end!
Let me finish by sharing one of my favourite verses as a blessing (Romans 15.13):

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.

Let us continue to be the people of hope in our community.

Blessings,

A New Year update from Frances

I wonder how the latest lockdown makes you feel? I know that some feel afraid, whilst for others frustration, anger, or even despair are the overwhelming emotions.

This letter has two purposes: first, to remind you that, however you are feeling today, you are not alone; I think all of us are finding this lockdown more difficult than previous ones. Also, there are members of the church family (and the local community) keen to come alongside you and to support you in whatever way is right for you. You may wish to offer support: from chatting regularly on the phone, to ordering someone’s regular shop online, there are many ways in which to reach out and share one another’s burdens, which will be so important in these grey January days. The pastoral assistants will continue their vital role, as will the Life Groups. If you ever need or want to offer support, please be in touch with the church office.

The second purpose of this letter is to let you know that your PCC has taken the decision that, with immediate effect, the church building needs to be closed to the congregation and members of the public. Rapidly rising rates of illness in the local area, apparently due to the greater transmissibility of the new coronavirus variant, is the main reason we have taken this step. We want to keep you and all of us as safe as we can, whilst still providing spiritual nourishment and support. To this end, services will continue to be available (a mixture of live stream and recordings) each week at 10am on Sunday, and on the website for viewing whenever suits you.  Life Groups will also continue online or by phone. If you would like to be put in touch with a group, please contact Patrick Fleming via email. The PCC will look to re-open the church building for congregational worship as soon as it is safe to do so according to our risk-assessments and guided by both government and diocesan guidelines. In addition, Patrick (D) has created a Daily Prayer leaflet for us all to use at different times of the day, to keep our eyes upon our wonderful heavenly Father and to give us a sense of praying together every day.

Finally, these words from Psalm 92 came up in a Bible reading for yesterday:

‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;

to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night…

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.’ (vv1-4)

The commentator wrote the following about the ‘virtuous circle’ which these verses contain:

‘Thanksgiving and praise give rise to gladness, which results in further praise, and praising makes us glad. The best thing we can do when we experience a dearth of gladness is to praise God.’

However it is that you choose to praise God, shall we try this together through this lockdown and see where it leads us in the weeks ahead?

Blessings,


 
 

Christmas services in church

I am pleased to write with the good news that, beginning this Sunday, 6 Dec we shall return to hold services in church. Spaces will continue to be limited (according to the safety guidelines) and booking via either the website or the church office will continue to be necessary.

Services will continue to alternate weekly between a traditional style and the less formal style of Oxshott Praise. Listen & Pray will form the core of each service, which will then be followed with a short form of Holy Communion for those in church. We will need to maintain all safety precautions, including wearing masks in church, no singing and overcoming the temptation to stand and chat with our friends outside!

Christmas services are on the horizon and information about each of these is available on the Weekly News, in the magazine and on the website. Some of our festive services will be ‘live streamed’.  We are really grateful to Mike Shand, John Henshall and others involved in installing new equipment to enable this.

We would encourage most people to stay at home and experience Christmas services online. However, there will be a limited number of places available in church, which can be booked. We shall once again give priority for key services (the 6pm Carols,  Midnight Communion and Christmas Day service) to those who have no access to the internet or to those who will be spending Christmas alone. We know most of those who are in these groups and will be in touch with them individually. Once we know how many spaces remain for each of these services bookings will be opened more widely: please check the website or contact the office in the week before each service.

A special element of our Christmas Day service will be the Christmas Greeting online zoom at 10.45am. Following our successful first attempt at this on Commitment Sunday, 29 November, we shall join one another on zoom to wish each other a Merry Christmas! Please do join in if you can.

Finally, another exciting prospect over the next few weeks is that the plans for our new ancillary buildings will be shared with all Life Groups by the BYC team, having been overwhelmingly approved by the PCC at their recent meeting. Anyone who is not currently in a life group and who would like to join for one of these presentations is encouraged to contact Patrick Fleming ( or via the office – 01372 842071).  Further presentations will be arranged for other audiences in the New Year as regulations permit. At the presentation you will be informed of the ways in which you can feedback your responses to the PCC. Do please pray for all concerned: for clarity of communication and for us all to capture the vision of which the plans for our buildings form merely a part.

Blessings,

An Update from Frances

As we enter the four weeks of the second lockdown, I wanted to write both to encourage you and to inform you about the new government restrictions and the way they will affect church activities.

The first, difficult news is that in this period, we are no longer permitted to allow anyone to attend services in church.  A few of us can be in church to lead and broadcast services, which we will continue to do on Sundays at 10am.  You will find the links to join in on our home page.  If you have any difficulty accessing these – or have any other issues around using your device to join in – there are people who would love to help you, so please ring the office (01372 842071) in the first instance.

Additionally, any meetings planned need to be held virtually, rather than in person.  This applies to everything from PCC meetings to Life Group socials.  Many of you have told me how much you dislike zoom (or its equivalents).  However, if we can regard it simply as a helpful tool to enable us to gather in ways that otherwise are not possible (especially important for those of us living alone) then I hope many of our vital group gatherings can continue.  Again, if you have the technology but are worried about using it, please contact the office to seek support.

The good news is that we can continue to visit the church building for private prayer on Wednesdays from 4-5.30pm, so please do continue to book for that via the church office or the booking page. Let’s use this opportunity.

I end with the encouragement of this verse, used in previous pastoral letters:

‘Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.’     (Romans 12.12)

Our hope is not just about the end of the pandemic or the invention of a vaccine. It is based on Jesus and all that he has done for us on the cross, opening the way for an intimate relationship with our loving heavenly Father, beginning now and lasting into eternity.  When this hope feels distant may I suggest you turn to the Psalms?  They are wonderful verses containing every raw human emotion.  Peace is found as the psalmist acknowledges afresh that God both knows how he feels and is in control. And this applies to us too.

The pastoral assistants, members of the bereavement and ministry teams and clergy are all still available to help you or someone you know who may be struggling, so please get in touch so that we can support one another in any way over these next few weeks.

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

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,