‘Plan B’

Did Boris Johnson’s announcement last week take you by surprise? Or were you organised, prepared, and ready to implement ‘Plan B’? We now go back to compulsory wearing of masks in public places and working from home if we can. Some of us have never stopped wearing masks, others have delighted in exercising their freedom not to. And the prime minister is now facing a backbench rebellion from his libertarian colleagues. If our elected leaders cannot agree what hope do the rest of us have? As Christ’s body here, I pray that we have a lot of hope in getting along. We have two laws to guide us:

  1. The law of the land. We have ample instruction in the New Testament to obey our secular leaders. Look up Romans 13v1-2, Titus 3v1, 1 Peter 2v13-17, and you will see clear instruction. And remember, when these instructions were given the secular authorities were not democratically elected, benevolent leaders. So, we are under obligation to wear face coverings in church, unless we are exempt. There simply is no room for discussion on this.
  2. We are called, as Christ’s body, to care for each other. This can be hard at times, because there are many things over which we might disagree. Especially CoV restrictions. At one extreme, there are those who believe the whole thing is overblown, and those who wish to exercise their right to personal freedom (like Boris’s backbenchers). At the other extreme there are those who are extremely anxious, and, of course, those who need to be especially careful because of existing health conditions. Most of us are somewhere in between. As God’s people we need to respect one another’s opinions and actions, unless God has specifically said otherwise. We must care for the weaker brothers and sisters (Romans 14), and we must also be mindful of one another (Philippians 2v1-3).

As a result, and after much discussion, we have decided that, in order for everyone to feel comfortable we will implement the following:

  1. The old chancel ‘safe’ area will be retained for those who need to be careful. There will be more social distancing here than in the nave.
  2. With the exception of those leading, face coverings must be worn by everyone in church unless, you have a valid exemption. They may not be removed for singing.
  3. We encourage you all to take a Lateral Flow test before coming to a service.

Hopefully these measures will help us to be united. Please do respect them, whether you agree with them or not. The aim is to make St Botolph’s a comfortable and safe place for everyone.

I hope that these precautions enable you to enjoy a worry free and joyous Christmas. In a bleak world, Christmas brings real hope. After Christmas we will be running a short course (only three session) entitled ‘Hope Explored’ to consider what this hope really means. If you might be interested in joining in then send an email to hope@sbots.church and we’ll let you know when it’s starting.

God bless you this Christmas, and may you be filled with joy at the birth of the saviour.  Mark.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

You will know that a week ago Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, an orthodox and very vocal critic of the direction the church of England is taking, transferred his allegiance to the church of Rome. Whilst the Roman church is to be greatly commended for it’s bold stand on moral and ethical issues, it is far from orthodox in its doctrine and ecclesiology. Bishop Michael’s move is therefore, to me at least, confusing. It seems he is prepared to sacrifice orthodoxy on the altar of ethics. Out of the frying pan, into the fire!

GAFCON is the leading group standing for Christian Orthodoxy in worldwide Anglicanism. GAFCON Ireland has issued the following statement:

(29 Oct 2021) The Trustees of Gafcon Ireland are deeply troubled by the recent transition of Bishop Michael Nazir Ali to the Roman Catholic Church. He has previously defended Christian orthodoxy around the world and courageously spoken on behalf of the persecuted church. However, Bishop Michael has now aligned himself with doctrines that are, in the words of the Thirty-nine Articles, “repugnant to the Word of God”. We cannot affirm Bishop Michael in his decision. We urge him to reconsider and return.

The first clause of the Jerusalem Declaration states that, “We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit”. As Trustees of Gafcon Ireland, and with our members and supporters, we continue to express our loyalty to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus, and rejoice in his gospel and its faithful proclamation to all nations.

Harvest For The Hungry Total

Dear St Botolph’s friends

I have today (13/10/21) totalled up your gifts for Harvest for the Hungry, so this year’s project is now closed.  If you still wish to contribute, could I ask you to do so direct to TEN.  If you do this, it would still be good to know about it, so we can belatedly add your gift to the total.  Thank you so very much to all of you who have made such generous gifts.  We even had a gift of £106.05 from St Edmund’s church – thank you St Edmund’s, that was a lovely surprise.

Last year’s total was £5280, as usual surpassing the previous year.  So what was it this year?

Was it £3000?  No it wasn’t.

Was it £4000?  No it wasn’t.

Was it £5000?  No it wasn’t.

Was it £6000?  No it wasn’t.

It was in fact £6471.05.  Was a stupendous total!  Once again, I can only say that you are an amazing group of people.  On behalf of all those who are going to be fed because of your generosity, thank you so much.

Derek

Harvest For The Hungry Update

Dear St Botolphs friends

Harvest for the Hungry is going well (7th Oct).  Thank you once again to all those who have contributed.  I will be sending our gift to TEN (Transform Europe Network) some time next week, so if you have not sent a contribution and wish to do so, please would you do so by this weekend at the latest.  I’ll let you know the final total next week.

Every blessing

Derek

Amazing Generosity

Dear St Botolphs friends

Thank you so much to all those who contributed to this year’s Harvest for the Hungry.  Assuming that all those who donated on-line direct to TEN have let either me or the office know how much, your generosity appears to have led to a total of about £3700, which is magnificent, especially in the current situation.  You are, as always, amazing!

We are still about £1500 short of last year’s total, so if there are others of you who would like to contribute, perhaps you would care to do so as soon as possible.  We will keep the books open for a couple of weeks longer, after which I will try to let you know a more accurate total.

Every blessing

Derek

Harvest for the Hungry 2021

Sunday 26th September 2021

Our annual opportunity to help some of the poorest people in Europe

St Botolph’s will again be sponsoring food parcels, through Transform Europe Network, so that TEN’s overseas partners can purchase locally the food they put in their humanitarian parcels. The first £3,000 of St Botolph’s Harvest for the Hungry gift will be designated to ensure that the monthly humanitarian parcels distributed by our sister church in Sarajevo can continue for another year. Each of their parcels costs about £20. 

Because St Botolph’s is not in a normal pattern of activity yet, this is what we ask you to do if you would like to give:

  1. Prayerfully decide how much you want to give towards Harvest for the Hungry.
  2. Put your gift (cash, or cheque made payable to “Harvest for the Hungry” ie. NOT to St Botolph’s Church) into an ordinary envelope addressed to: Harvest for the Hungry, c/o Derek Wade, 8 Gotch Road, Barton Seagrave NN15 6UQ
  3. Either post or hand-deliver your envelope to the Church Office or 8 Gotch Road. Alternatively you can hand it in with the collection on Harvest Festival Sunday.

If you prefer to give electronically, then you can give online via the TEN website by clicking here (this link will take you straight to the TEN online giving page).

Because the first £3,000 is designated to the humanitarian ministry of our sister church in Sarajevo, it is important that we know how much we have given as a church, either in cash/cheques or online. For this reason if you give direct to TEN online, please let us know the size of your gift, you can let us know anonymously if you wish. Let us know by emailing Derek at by clicking here, or by sending a note to Derek via the church office, or direct to his home.

Shifting Sands

Well, this always was to be a discussion. I know we can’t please everyone, but we’ll certainly do our best to please as many as we can whilst remembering why we are here. St Edmund’s people have said that they find 8.30am too early and I can understand this for some. So I have moved the early service at Warkton to 9am which, I am told, is much more acceptable. This is the first tweek.

So, from Sunday 12th Warkton’s service will be at 9am not 8.30. See you there!

And we’re back

The days are getting shorter, the weather colder and pumpkins and squashes are bursting from our vegetable plots. This can only mean one thing; summer is over and Autumn is on the way! But, more importantly, rejoice because morning prayer is back. Starting Monday 6th September at 8am I will be saying morning prayer each morning, Monday to Thursday. It’s a great way to start the day, please do join me if you can. If you can’t make 8am the service will remain available on our YouTube site afterwards.

Join me here: films.stbots.church or here: youtube.com/stbots 8am on Monday morning.

Apology and Augmentation

I have been made aware, yet again, of my shortcomings, and I apologise. I do hope you will forgive my lack of clarity in my post, ‘Mission to the Masses.’ It is all too easy, when having lived with something for a long time, to be less than clear upon announcement. So, let me take this opportunity for augmentation in an attempt for accuracy in arrangements for the alterations. I will also use this post to add a little amplification.

Our monthly cycle of Sunday services from 12th September (a 2nd Sunday) will be:

Sunday

Time

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

St Botolph’s

8.30am

MP

HC

HC

10am

HC

MP

MP

MP

MP

7pm

EP

HC

EP

EP

EP

St Edmund’s

8.30am

HC (BCP)

HC (CW)

5pm

EP

EP

HC

  • MP – Morning Prayer; HC – Holy Communion; EP – Evening Prayer
  • BCP – Book of Common Prayer (1662); CW – Common Worship
  • Thursday services will not commence until October. We need time and volunteers to organise seniors’ ministry before we can launch effectively. Your prayers would be much appreciated as we do this. If you are keen to assist in seniors’ ministry, please let me know via St Botolph’s Church Office. You will need a current DBS check in order to help.
  • This cycle of services is for an experimental period and may change.

Mission to the Masses

As we come out of CoV isolation blinking our way back to normality we can breathe a sigh of relief. The pain is over. We can meet again, touch again, live again. But things will not be as they were, not least because the memory of CoV, lost loved ones, isolation, and pain, will be forever with us. We give thanks to God for His mercy and, at the same time, we trust Him for our future as we shut down CoV and re-boot normality. And as we push the reset button, we have an opportunity to assess our effectiveness as God’s mission people in a needy world. We have been thinking and praying through areas of ministry asking, is there a need to make changes? If so, a reboot is the best time to try.

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-44, said, ‘The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.’ If we are to be a mission shaped church, then this must be at the forefront of our thinking. Church attendance in England is now under 1 million each week, that is fewer than 2% of the population. Since 1980 the church attendance has dropped by 50%. This is a crisis. How do we address it? Well, there are many ways, and, as a general rule, churches that preach the Bible clearly and live it out consistently are either growing or at least, not shrinking. But we also need to make church attendance as easy and natural as possible. With these things in mind, we have been addressing our Sunday services. How can we make it easy for people to attend? How can we best take the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with people? So, over the last year, the team and wardens of St Botolph’s and St Edmund’s have been thinking and praying and would like to suggest an amendment to Sunday service times to meet this challenge. The changes are experimental and will be discussed by the PCCs near the end of October. Some may be disappointed by these changes, others, I know, will be delighted. I would ask you to consider what William Temple said, and what our mission is. I will happily talk with any of you who are struggling to understand. This is a genuine dialogue.

So, from 12th September our cycle of services will be:

St Botolph’s

  • Sunday 8.30am – Morning Service 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday
  • Sunday 10am – Morning Service with Promise Land
  • Sunday 7pm – Evening Service
  • Thursday 11am – Morning Service followed by seniors’ activity

St Edmund’s

  • Sunday 8.30am – Morning Service 2nd and 4th Sunday
  • Sunday 5pm – Evening Prayer 1st and 3rd Sunday