It has been quite an eventful few months since the last edition of ECN both as a church and for us at our family level. The lockdown came at a time when my wife Beck was due to have radiotherapy treatment for cancer and mercifully this went ahead in spite of her receiving a letter about isolating herself completely.
I was furloughed for much of the period and only started to resume my role in the Canal Trust in July.
Our daughter’s wedding planned for September was intended to be a big do in Winchester but that was cancelled by the venue. Instead, once marriages were possible again, we had the joy of seeing it happen on 18th July at the Parish Church here in Eastington in the company of a spread out set of close relatives and friends. Our thanks go to Revd. Steve Harrision for facilitating this at short notice.
We are now looking after Beck’s elderly mother at our home with the assistance of visiting carers.
So it has been a mixed bag of the good and the bad and very different to anything that could be regarded as normal. What has not changed is that God is still God and there is a lot of comfort to be had in knowing that He loves us and that we can call upon him for help in whatever circumstanced we find ourselves in.
What has been disappointing to me is that there has been little sign of turning to God at a time of crisis by those in national leadership. When we should be repenting and seeking God, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that we can sort it out by throwing money at the problem and assume that science will sort it all out sooner or perhaps later. True wisdom can be found in God who does not need hindsight to see what would have been best.
What about the Church?
Our last ECN article was written just as the COVID-19 lockdown came into force and all our normal activities had just been suspended. Very rapidly we were able to resume our 11am Sunday Morning services using ZOOM over the Internet. This was a new experience for many of us including some of those preaching but works really well. The in house system we have developed for projecting the words for the hymns and songs has the ability to play the music as well and proved simple to use with screen share on Zoom. It has therefore been possible to reproduce what would normally have taken place physically in the building with the main exception being Communion which, for reasons that make little sense to most of us, requires participants to be in the same location.
An enhancement has been the production of a series of video dramatic readings produced by our minister, Phil Summers, during lock down. In many services, we have used these to good effect.
At the time of writing, the lockdown restrictions have eased somewhat and are likely to continue to do so. In theory, we could resume services in the church buildings now but social distancing would have to be strictly maintained, the services are supposed to be kept short, and worst still, it looks like singing would not be allowed. Some of those that can safely join us at on-line services are housebound or of an age/have health conditions that would make them more susceptible to the worst of the COVID-19 infection were they to get it. This makes the decision as to when to restart services in the church building quite complex and it is more likely to happen when singing is allowed or is known to be safe, and the residual COVID-19 infection in the wider population has reduced still further.
We will provide updates on www.EastingtonMethodists.org.uk where the ZOOM link to the services and other activities can be found if you would like to join us from the comfort of your own home. We can also patch people in over the phone who are not able to use the Internet – please call us to be included.
The on-line services were soon followed by prayer meetings and Bible studies. These have been successful and attendance/involvement has been maintained or enhanced.
We give thanks to God that the spiritual work of the church has been maintained throughout the last few months and we have been able to support several people with their practical needs over this period.
We did run a series of on-line youth clubs but these did not attract the level of participation that the normal club attracts. Therefore we are prioritising getting the youth club up and running again on Friday evenings initially meeting only when the weather is fine outside at the Owen Harris Memorial ground. This is where we would have been on most summer evenings anyway. Social distancing will need to be maintained but we have some ideas of some fun things to do which will not compromise this.
Risk assessments have been written and some hand sanitisation kit is on order. We will be contacting the regulars with a start date but are aware that this might be of interest to others including those going up to secondary school in September. If you are new or have not heard from us recently, please drop us an email or call so we know of your interest and can keep you updated.
The situation is similar to that of the youth club in that there are significant limits to what can be done on-line. Moves are afoot to organise a bring your own picnic as a first step towards resuming meetings.
Contacts: Roz Wisniewski (Youth & Families Worker) 0776 190 2249
Beck Burgin 0751 119 7265 or 01453 827414
Rev. Phil Summers (Minister) 01453 542565
Ken Burgin – Senior Steward at Eastington Methodist Church