Welcome to the Newsletter for August. As we begin a new month our country is beginning to understand what the "new normal" means. As those who have been shielding for medical reasons are now able to circulate again we enter the next phase of living with Covid-19. We all need to be aware of social distancing and remember to be sensitive to those around us at all times. We have already seen the resurgence of the virus in some towns with the consequent measures being put in place. Covid-19 is with us and we now have to learn to live with it until a vaccine is procured and proven successful in preventing its spread.
That said I think we are taking the necessary precautions at St Swithun's and the majority of people who have attended services are happy with the way things have been organised. I would like to pay tribute to the work of the Welcoming Teams who have worked very well under the tutelage of John Ellis in keeping us all safe and well.
The most up to date announcement from No 10 Downing St is that from 8th August it will be compulsory to wear a face covering in church for all people. Please be aware of this for Sunday 9th August.
Currently we are not planning to restart the 8.00am service as it would be exactly the same as the 10.00am service but necessarily involve more teams of welcomers and sanitising the church between services. St Barnabas and St Luke's will also remain closed for the time being. The current guidelines do not allow us to sing hymns in church but we can enjoy the music of the organ and choir from recordings. We also need to keep up the 'signing in' to comply with the Government directive on "Track and Trace" during the pandemic. The records are kept securely for three weeks only. If you arrive at the church not having signed in your name and contact details will be recorded on the list of names.
The time has now come to stop the YouTube recordings which have been enjoyed over the past months. So many of you have sent letters, emails or left messages to say how much they have been appreciated and kept our community together during the time of isolation. Now that we are able to circulate again I want to encourage you to return to church where we can celebrate our faith together. If you are feeling uncertain or nervous about joining in again let me reassure you that we are doing all that is possible to make your attendance at church as safe as possible following Government and NHS Guidelines.
If, for whatever reason, you feel unable to join us there are online services and some other resources available on the Church of England website.
The BBC also has programmes on Sunday mornings and Songs of Praise at 1.15pm. (note this earlier time!)
This month there are two weddings taking place in the church. Please pray for Nathan Hawken and Jade Tolfree getting married on 8th August and for Lizzie Jakeman and Pieter Venter getting married on 17th August. These will be very special occasions for the couples who have had to create their day during difficult times.
Please also pray for the families of Ernie Huggett and Sylvia Welsh who have died recently. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
I will be on annual leave during the period 9th - 22nd August. My clerical colleagues Rev Karen Higgs and Canon Julia Peaty will be with you and the Parish Office will be open for telephone enquiries only - please note.
With every blessing
Andrew R Hawken, Vicar of East Grinstead
East Grinstead Emergency Action Group
If you, or anyone you know is elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating, help with food and supplies is available from this group.
Please call 01342 323636 and select Option 1.
The service is available Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm.