By Martin Gibson

Forget your political allegiances, whether they be Tory, Lib Dem or Communist, the article in the Saturday Daily Telegraph about the Church of England was an eye-opener

Under the heading: Can the Church of England Survive Covid? the author looked at the crisis facing the church. Will Covid 19 finally kill off the falling congregation numbers? Does financial ruin lie ahead? Can anything be done to reverse the trend?

There was some good news – the London vicar who took to the streets during the first lockdown with a public prayer, a hymn and Judy Collins singing “Amazing Grace” via a loudspeaker. Another London church which had set up its own apiary and a brewery (I rather liked the sound of its 11% Heaven Help Me stout) and had gigs with Florence & The Machine and Robbie Williams in his church.

Some of the criticisms were harsh, but possibly justified – the Archbishop choosing to take a 3 month sabbatical in May, the Bishops a pushover for meekly allowing the Government to close churches (and mosques and temples). Committees and leaders blindly following rules and regulations many of which are questionable.

Our church is cavernous, a big air circulation space, plenty of exits and a health-safe culture led by a highly qualified nurse. The medical science has to be appreciated of course, but is there a greater risk here than going to Marks & Spencers, picking up a dozen food items which have been previously handled by others and mingling with 500 strangers?

There is no doubt that we are missing a trick – I just don’t know what it is.

St Mary’s remains closed but a weekly service of Holy Communion is still held at St Helen’s, Alveston every Sunday at 10:30am.

A New Initiative, created by Sue Farr, has gone in to operation. A small group has been formed, the members of which have phone details of local people who might be considered either vulnerable or perhaps lonely. These people, not all whom are church members, will be telephoned on a regular basis to make sure they are safe and well. If help is needed the members can make appropriate arrangements. Not everyone who gets a call will feel it is warranted and would then come off the contact list.

Please consider these people in your thoughts and prayers: Tessa Floyd whose knee is being operated on once again today and Tim Auburn who has returned home from hospital having been admitted last week with Covid 19. Tim’s recovery is a slow process.

Following the success of the Speed Visor outside the parish hall which reduced the number of speeding motorists by 13%, it has now been relocated. Since yesterday it has been positioned on Haw Lane addressing vehicles coming down towards the village. The visor will appear not to be working over the next 7 days but it is actually accumulating information on numbers and speeds of passing vehicles. It will then be activated which in turn will allow the pre and post data to be compared. This is the work of the Parish Council and a part of its Community Speedwatch programme.

Fire in church
In October the fire prevention officer came to St Mary’s to conduct a health and safety course. The officer said to the Rev Stephen Oram: “Now imagine this: it is a Sunday morning and you have a number of people, spread socially distanced, throughout your church building. Some are in the choir stalls, some are in the kitchen, and some are in the nave.  Suddenly, a big fire breaks out. What are the first steps you would take?”
Steve thought carefully about this for a moment then replied “Really big ones.”