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Pastoral letter from Fr Andrew - 11 May 2020

Dear Family of S. Stephen’s

Priest in stone pulpit.

I waited until after the Prime Minister’s broadcast last evening before writing to you this week.

I think in a little corner of my heart there was a vain hope the PM might signal some early end to our present situation.

Of course in my mind I knew that this was not going to happen – that it is not right for it to happen. I, like most of you think that it is right to put up with our present difficulties a little longer to ensure safety for as many of us as possible. There is a complex tension between freedom, health and well-being and economic security for our nation and all of us.

Anyway, it seems that it is unlikely that churches will be able to open at all until July at the earliest and no normal Sunday worship possible until Christmas at the earliest.

I, like many clergy have been radical enough to ignore the Archbishops’ ‘rules’ (later admitted to be only ‘guidance’) and I, with Helen, have celebrated all of the Holy Week rites, visited the church and prayed and offered mass on your behalf every Sunday, indeed, most days.

I have tried to continue a link for you with mailings once a month, emails and social media containing familiar photographs every week along with phone calls or emails particularly to those I know to be alone. There are lots of electronic resources on our website and Facebook page. For those of you receiving this by post, a little prayer booklet is enclosed. I have not (yet!) ventured into recording or streaming liturgy – but who knows! I will continue to do what I can.

I have received lots of positive feedback. Please let me know if there is more I can do. I know that there are a number of you not on internet or social media, and I’m sorry that I can't post out every week. If there are others, family or friends who could receive emails or print Facebook pages for you – then please do let me know. Likewise, if you hear of someone missing from our list do tell me. A surprisingly large number of people did not fully complete – or complete at all – our contact forms required by law. For some, the email address we have doesn’t work or bounces back!

Finally in this letter I am sorry to say that I must raise the issue of money. Since the lockdown we have lost 60% of our income. There is a real danger that financially we shall not survive if this situation continues for too long.

This is not an idle statement – it is true. I enclose a letter from Malcolm Wilcock, agreed by the Finance and Standing Committee. Please read it and pray about it, and if you can, please help.

Ring me if you would like to talk.

With the assurance of my continued love and prayers,

Fr Andrew

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