Pool Mission Area

The Pool Mission Area in the Archdeaconry of Montgomery, Diocese of St Asaph of the Anglican Church in Wales consists of 16 churches divided in to 3 groups with one of the 3 stipendiary priests in the Mission Area rooted in each group and having pastoral responsibility for each of the communities and churches within their group:

Archdeacon: Venerable Barry Wilson;Church in Wales Shield
Tel: TBC,                                                                                                            email: archdeacon.montgomery@churchinwales.org.uk

The Rectory, Llandrinio SY21 6RW, Tel 01691 838533

1.         Pool South: Montgomery, Forden, Llandysill, Llandysilio and Penrhos ;

Incumbent:  Rev’d Alexis Smith

Tel:  01686 641992; email:  smith.sparrowssong@gmail.com

2.         Pool Central: Welshpool, Castle Caereinion, Pool Quay, Llandrinio, Criggion and Mission Church Belan;

Incumbent:  Revd Steven Willson;

Tel 01938 553164, email: revswillson@btinternet.com

3.         Pool North: Guilsfield, Buttington, Berriew and 2 Mission Churches (Fron & Pant y Ffridd);

Incumbent:  Revd Caroline Rhodes

Tel 01938 554245, email:  revcarolinerhodes@me.com

Latest Mission Area News

More resources, information and links to services during this difficult time can be found on a ‘For While We Cannot Meet‘ page.

MA News – 7th February

Laptops and iPads for Schools

Somebody asked recently about donating money, rather than laptops to local schools  but Steve has forgotten who! The answer is, yes, at least some of our schools, probably all, would be happy to accept donations for this purpose.

MA Conference

Having finally got our 2019 accounts back from the auditors we need to formally approve them and so there will be a Zoom meeting of the MAC on Monday 15th February (a week on Monday) will MAC members please make a note in their diaries.

If anyone has any other items that they would like included on the agenda (including financial transactions that need MAC approval) please let Steve or Jenny know as soon as possible.

Give God an Hour (or so) for Lent

With no in-church services and several other things not happening at the moment we would like to encourage as many of you as possible to take advantage of the things we’re planning for Lent. We are in the process of setting up a range of Zoom groups. Zoom is very accessible because you don’t have to download it onto your computer to use it and you can also access it by telephone. It’s interactive too, so you can join in with the conversations, which is great for catching up with people you can’t see at the moment as well as for joining in with discussion. Further details about the groups and of how to access them will be available next week but in the mean time this is what is being planned:

Monday evenings at 19.30 – ‘Start!’ – Discovering Christianity in small groups

Contact Alexis (01686 641992) for more details or to ask for the link.

Tuesday evenings at 19.30 – ‘Pilgrimage’ – Journeying with God and each other.

Contact Alexis (01686 641992) for more details or to ask for the link.

Wednesday morning at 10.00 – ‘Why Disciples?’ – Following not believing

Contact Steve (01938 553164 for more details or to ask for the link.

Wednesday evenings at 19.30 – ‘Caring for Creation’ (with Welshpool Chs Together)         Contact Steve (01938 553164 for more details or to ask for the link.

Thursday evenings at 19.30 – ‘Why Disciples?’ – Following not believing

Contact Steve (01938 553164 for more details or to ask for the link.

Pastoral

Archdeacon Barry is taking some time off to care for his father, Des, who lives with Barry & Yvonne and is terminally ill. Steve can hopefully answer any questions you might have wanted to ask Barry, but alternatively you can contact one of the other archdeacons:

John Lomas 01244 579673          or       Andy Grimwood 01352 720478.

Please remember Des, Barry and Yvonne in your prayers.

Extending a Welcome to visitors

Last chance to sign up for this training session about attracting passers by into our beautiful buildings (see information from last week’s, 31st January, MA News).

This Week’s On-Line Service – 7th February

The link for YouTube is:  https://youtu.be/MkD31SFslKs.

Also on The Pool Mission Area and Guilsfield Church Facebook pages as usual on Sunday morning.

This Week’s On-Line Services

This week’s MA Service has a Candlemas theme and Rev’d Bethan Scotford, who is leading it for us this week, says “those who will be following the service might like to have a small candle in a holder prepared which they can light in a safe manner when the Nunc Dimittis is sung at the end. It is not compulsory, but some might like to do that”.

The link for YouTube is: https://youtu.be/JsYYp8je6EQ.

Also on The Pool Mission Area and Guilsfield Church Facebook pages as usual on Sunday morning.

Our Zoom service starts at 09.30:
Alexis Smith is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88389449711
Meeting ID: 883 8944 9711

Latest MA News

Short notice vaccinations appointments

Shortly after sending out last week’s MA News we received confirmation that the short notice appointments are now available for Newtown, as well as Builth Wells.

Extending a Welcome to visitors

The recent MA Review recognised that all of our churches could do more to make passing visitors welcome (being open to walkers, providing information about our activities and our buildings, providing a hospitality table etc.)

Several churches have responded by asking for more information about this and therefore the following on-line training session may well be of interest:

Church Tourism – Welcoming Visitors

– A workshop to help your Church benefit from visitors

The National Churches Trust Explore Churches team are running an on-line training workshop (on Zoom) in February which will look at the following areas:

Why should you welcome visitors to your church or chapel?

What is tourism worth?

What have we got to offer visitors?

Does your church say ‘Welcome’?

What are the first impressions – both inside and out?

How do we meet and greet visitors?

Thinking through some of the risks involved in opening to visitors.

The event is on Wednesday 10th February at 11.30 – 12.30am tickets cost £5.80.

Please see the link below for more details and to book your place:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/welcoming-visitors-a-workshop-to-help-your-church-benefit-from-visitors-tickets-136606783567.

There’s a small charge for the event, £5.80, but this is minimal in comparison with the potential financial benefits of attracting more visitors so churches should be willing to pay this as a fundraising investment.

Connecting with your Community
A reminder of this forthcoming diocesan event – Wed 3rd February, 10am – 12noon (via Zoom) Join us to hear from six inspirational speakers from across the diocese who have seen past the challenges of lockdown to better connect with their local community.  The online session will be a chance to hear how six different churches are meeting a critical need in their local community and learn from their experience.  Using a mixture of films, panel discussion and Q&A, this is an opportunity to pick up some tips, ideas and learn from any pitfalls, to be inspired to develop your own project to reach out into your community.  For further information or to book a place, email sarahwheat@cinw.org.uk.

In-church services                                                                                                       

There were no significant changes in today’s Welsh Government lockdown review and the Church in Wales continue to advise using alternatives to in-church worship until further notice. The Bench of Bishops have given notice of what might be permissible for Lent, Holy Week and Easter – more of that later when we have a clearer idea of what will be sensible.

One date you might like to note in your diary is Thurs 1st April. This is Maundy Thursday, when the licensed ministers of the Diocese usually all gather in the Cathedral for the Chrism Eucharist at which holy oils are blessed and ministers renew their ordination or licensing vows. The service is having to happen on Zoom this year (at 10.00am) but that may give people who can’t normally get to (or fit in!) the Cathedral a chance to experience it. A link to the meeting will be available nearer the time.

This Week’s On-Line Services – 24th January

On YouTube: https://youtu.be/_eTF_g2Dtsk.

Also on the Pool Mission Area and Guilsfield Church Facebook pages as usual on Sunday morning.

On Zoom – Service starts at 09.30:
Alexis Smith is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88389449711
Meeting ID: 883 8944 9711

In-Church Services

At his press conference today the First Minister suggested that he could see little room for changes when the lockdown is reviewed next week, so we currently don’t anticipate any reopening of churches before the latter part of February at the earliest. We think March is more likely. Current infection levels are only just beginning to level out as a result of the lockdown and remain very high. The more easily transmitted newer strain of Covid continues to spread in Wales and we can’t imagine anything will change until that is no longer the case.

So, in the meantime, keep safe at home.

Mission Area News

Vaccination Progress

It’s really good that this week several parishioners have had their vaccinations or at least a date to attend for one.

Powys Health Board are also able to offer short notice appointments when someone else has cancelled an existing appointment.

This option is only open to people who are:

Aged 70-74 or aged 80+ (those aged 75-79 are being contacted at GP practices)

and Registered with a GP in Powys

and Don’t already have an appointment date

and are able to travel safely at short notice to Builth Wells Vaccination Centre.

If you qualify and would like to sign up cut and paste the following link into your computer:

https://pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/age-70-to-74/are-you-able-to-attend-a-mass-vaccination-centre-appointment-at-short-notice/

If that doesn’t work, type in pthb.nhs.wales and then use their search facilities to find short-notice vaccinations.

They’ll get to the rest of us eventually! While you’re waiting you might like to pray for all the volunteers who are supporting the vaccination roll out and for the medics, practice managers, pharmaceutical suppliers and others who are working long hours trying to make it all happen as quickly as possible.

Good news about unaccompanied child migrants

Stephen Hayes writes…

Back in August last year, the Home Office wrote to councils throughout the UK stating that a crisis of care was arising in Kent due to the numbers of unaccompanied child migrants arriving in this country and requiring care.

The letter asked for councils for emergency support, placements and willingness to take responsibility under the Children Act 1989 for some of these young people.

Shortly afterwards it was announced in local media that Powys County Council had rejected this appeal and would not be offering a welcome to Unaccompanied Child Migrants. After I wrote about this in the Montgomery Crier community magazine, many people from the churches in the Mission Area contacted me to deplore this decision and offer their support in challenging it, emphasising the compassion they believed we, as a county and a nation, should show to these vulnerable children.

I’m glad to say that despite some real practical difficulties, local authorities throughout Wales are now collaborating to offer a welcome and a home to unaccompanied migrant children – and Powys is part of that effort. I’ll be asking a formal question at County Council on 4th March which should clarify just what Powys is doing. The question will underline people’s desire that we show ourselves a generous and humane nation.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to express their concern and press for action on this matter.

Stephen

Connecting with your Community

A reminder of this forthcoming diocesan event – Wed 3rd February, 10am – 12noon (via Zoom) Join us to hear from six inspirational speakers from across the diocese who have seen past the challenges of lockdown to better connect with their local community.  The online session will be a chance to hear how six different churches are meeting a critical need in their local community and learn from their experience.  Using a mixture of films, panel discussion and Q&A, this is an opportunity to pick up some tips, ideas and learn from any pitfalls, to be inspired to develop your own project to reach out into your community.  For further information and to book a place, please email sarahwheat@cinw.org.uk.

On-Line Services – 17th January

On YouTube: https://youtu.be/XpljIOymNmY.

Also on our Facebook page as usual on Sunday morning.

Zoom Service
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88389449711.

Time: 09:30 AM London

Latest News from the Mission Area and Mission Area Leader

Statement from the Bench of Bishops

It will be clear to all that we are facing a very difficult and dark period in the fight against Coronavirus Covid-19.  The emergence of a new variant is a particularly unwelcome development.  Welsh Government advice on the new variant tells us:

The new Variant of Covid 19 is more transmissible than the current type, and is likely to be the dominant variant in Wales across the whole population in a matter of weeks.

This means there is a greater chance of contracting the virus if you come into contact with an infected person.

There is no evidence that the new variant increases the likelihood of worse health outcomes for individual children or adults.

Although the vaccination programme is ongoing, the risk-reducing behaviours and controls already communicated during the pandemic (principally social distancing, hygiene and cleaning) remain the most effective means of reducing transmission, for everyone.

Whilst places of worship can, by law, remain open for worship, funerals and weddings, Welsh Government is strongly advising that:

those who are responsible for places of worship should consider whether there are alternative ways of holding worship services’.

The Bench of Bishops does not, at this time, require the suspension of in person worship but alternatives to in person worship should be pursued where possible.

Beware of Covid Scams

The office of the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales report that a number of new scams relating to the Covid vaccine are circulating and it’s crucial we are all vigilant. The NHS will never ask for your bank details or payment. Vaccines are NOT being delivered door-to-door. If you receive a call/email that you think is fraudulent please report it

Connecting with your Community
This Diocesan event sounds interesting – Wed 3rd February, 10am – 12noon (via Zoom) Join us to hear from six inspirational speakers from across the diocese who have seen past the challenges of lockdown to better connect with their local community.  The online session will be a chance to hear how six different churches are meeting a critical need in their local community and learn from their experience.  Using a mixture of films, panel discussion and Q&A, this is an opportunity to pick up some tips, ideas and learn from any pitfalls, to be inspired to develop your own project to reach out into your community.  For further information and to book a place, please email sarahwheat@cinw.org.uk.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Bilingual resources are now available to download for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021, traditionally held between 18-25 January.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland. The theme, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.

Worship and background material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org).

Training

Please find below some dates for Safeguarding Training, which all those working with children, young people and vulnerable adults should complete if they didn’t do it last year. Also further training for Treasurers on the Data Developments accounting system.

Safeguarding Training
The latest set of dates for Church in Wales safeguarding training are still available for bookings. The training is in two parts, Part 1 & Part 2, you must attend both parts to complete the course. Most of the part 1 dates have already past but there is one left:

19 January 14.00 – Part 1

21 January 14.00 – Part 2
22 January 14.00 – Part 2
27 January 10.00 – Part 2
29 January 10.00 – Part 2
Places can be booked by emailing safeguardingtraining@stpadarns.ac.uk.

Intermediate level training in Finance Coordinator 4 for Church Treasurers.
Tuesday 26 January 1:30 – 5:30pm via Zoom (including an hour’s break).
If you are already using FC4 to produce your church’s accounts this course will help you learn some shortcuts and other useful tips.  Timed to coincide with your year-end procedures the session will cover programme functions such as account & fund transfers, revaluing investments, year-end procedures, memorising transactions and producing budgets.  To book a place and receive a copy of the course manual please contact siancharlesworth@cinw.org.uk or phone 01745 532582.

Funding

This week’s StAR (the Diocese’s weekly information email) contains information about several funding opportunities that may be helpful for churches struggling financially because of covid or trying to support their community. See below for details.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage for Smaller Grant Applications
The first phase of the grants programme is now open:

Phase 1  for applications for grants from £3,000-£10,000 and £10,000-£100,000 . This will provide some much-needed financial assistance, particularly to those heritage sector organisations who have, so far, been unable to access COVID-19 emergency funds. NLHF will be looking for projects with a particular emphasis on organisational resilience and inclusion. You can find out more on the diocesan website or contact martynschlangen@cinw.org.uk at the Diocese Office.

The Archbishop of Wales Fund for Children is open for applications
The fund has been set up to support children in need, their families and local communities by making grants to organisations in the following order of priority and category.

  1. Those in the Dioceses of the Church in Wales
  2. Those associated with other Christian Bodies who are members of CYTUN.
  3. Other organisations working with children in need in Wales.

Find out more on the Church in Wales website or for advice email Martyn Schlangen.

Welsh Government Voluntary Services Recovery Fund
A new fund from Welsh Government and administered by WCVA will focus on reducing the inequality resulting from the pandemic.Grants will support not-for-profit organisations working at a community scale up to a national level in Wales and can be between £10,000 – £100,000.
This fund is primarily focused on revenue funding; however, your funding request can contain costs for purchases of smaller ‘capital’ equipment including consumables (for example PPE, screens etc).  For more details please search https://wcva.cymru/funding/voluntary-services-recovery-fund/
Funding for Churches and Christian Charities to Respond to Coronavirus Crisis
Churches, Cathedrals, Christian denominational bodies, and Christian charities in the UK can now apply for funding from All Churches Trust through the Hope Beyond fund to meet changing needs within their communities as the longer-term impact of the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis becomes clearer. Grants of up to £50,000 are available. Successful applicants will receive a grant covering between 10% and 80% of the costs, depending on the overall cost of the project and the level of need in their community. Funding will be available for projects in the following three areas:

  • Projects responding to the issues of loneliness and isolation exacerbated by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic where new and/or enhanced support is being proposed. This could include enabling improved accessibility to buildings/activities and measures to ensure buildings are coronavirus/COVID-19 safe.
  • Projects focused on growing community resilience and promoting mental and emotional health and wellbeing, including the provision of mental health and wellbeing support groups and 1:1 counselling for people of all ages (including clergy).
  • Projects focused on growing technological capability and resilience, particularly increasing digital capacity and provision, and supporting those without online access to get online through training and support.

The grants can cover capital costs, such as adaptation of buildings and the purchase of equipment, as well as project-related salaries and some other revenue costs (to the end of 2021), such as training of staff and/or volunteers, hire of buildings and/or equipment, and promotion and marketing of new activities. For more details please go to:

https://www.allchurches.co.uk/what-we-fund/hopebeyond/

Bishop Gregory’s Latest Pastoral Letter

Please find the latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory at:  210113 Pastoral Letter.

On-Line Services and MA News – 10th January

Not too much news this week.

Obviously having to suspend in-church services again is disappointing, albeit necessary under the current circumstances. The links for our on-line services follow. New Year is a good time to try something new so, if you would prefer something more interactive than the pre-recorded service on YouTube/Facebook, why not give the Zoom service a try? As well as being able to participate in the worship there is usually the opportunity to chat to other folk before or afterwards. You can also sing in the safety of your own home!

Zoom is renowned for being easy to use (most manage it without trouble so it can’t be that difficult!). There are various versions available but to join in with the service you only need the basic version which is completely free.

You should be able to access the service simply by clicking this link and following the instructions:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88389449711

You can also access the free version of Zoom via their website –  https://zoom.us

Alternatively here is the link for this Sunday’s YouTube service: https://youtu.be/cYqUcxX2_NE

Available on Sunday morning on Pool Mission Area’s and Guilsfield Church’s Facebook pages.

Latest MA News – 5th January

On the advice of the Diocesan Senior Staff Team (ie. Bishop, Dean, Archdeacons and Diocesan Secretary) we are suspending public worship for the remainder of January so there will be no services in any of Pool MA’s churches for at least the rest of this month.

Although the Welsh Government coronavirus legislation currently permits public worship it does urge extreme caution and emphasises that it should only take place after careful revaluation of Risk Assessments. Research published at the end of last week by Imperial College London suggest that the new strain of Covid is spreading much more easily than the existing strain and the reasons it is able to do so are not yet known. Without that information it is not possible to be certain we have the necessary precautions in place to protect the safety of worshippers, which has to be our first priority. Whilst we recognise that this decision will be disappointing to many we feel it is necessary, given that cases of the new strain are now emerging in Mid & N. Wales.

We will review the situation towards the end of January, but think it is quite likely that in-church services will not recommence until March.

Our on-line YouTube/Facebook and Zoom services will of course continue every week.

On-Line Service – 3rd January

The link for Sunday’s on-line service is here: https://youtu.be/D8Y3BjtDX0E. It’ll be on The MA and Guilsfield Facebook pages too, as usual.

MA News

We hope your Christmas was as good as it could be and wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

As stated before Christmas we are reducing the number of in-church services in January because of the current situation.

It’s really important that people don’t venture out if they feel at all anxious about doing so – we’d far rather see everyone back in their churches later in the year than see some now and be missing a few when the situation improves. But for those that do still want to attend the services currently planned are as follows. The number that you need to call to book a seat is also shown:

Belan                                     No services

Berriew 10.00                      10th & 24th Jan         Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245

Buttington 09.30                17th Jan                      Peter Stedman – 01938 554855

Castle C 09.30                      10th Jan                      Viv Lancaster – 01938 850507

Criggion                                 No services

Forden 10.00                       3rd Jan                        Alexis Smith 01686 641992

Fron                                       No services

Guilsfield 11.00                   3rd & 17th Jan           Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245

Llandrinio 11.15                  17th Jan                      May Hillier – 01691 831484

Llandysilio 10.00                 10th & 24th Jan         Carol Davies – 01691 831008

Llandyssil                              No services

Montgomery 10.45            10th & 24th Jan         Helen Hayes – 01686 668545

Pantyffridd                           No services

Penrhos ??.??                      31st Jan                      Jim Thompson – 01691 828438

Pool Quay 10.30                 3rd & 17th Jan           Judy Crowe – 01938 590453

Welshpool 11.00                10th, 24th & 31st Jan            Sue Williams – 01938 553286

It is quite possible that some of these plans will change in response to local Covid levels. We’ll try to keep you informed through MA News. If you have already booked-in you will be advised.

Latest MA News – 24th December

Yes, we know, we said there wouldn’t be another one until January! But 2020 seems to want finish in much the way as it has gone since February, with constant rejigging to try and take into account the latest Covid situation!

Covid Anxious?

As stated on Friday, public worship is allowed to continue despite the current lockdown, however the virus situation continues to deteriorate as a result of the new strain of Covid, which seems able to spread much more easily. Figures in the local area are also up, reportedly 6 new cases in Welshpool between 12th & 18th December, 10 in the Berriew/ Montgomery/Trewern zone and 0-2 in Guilsfield/Four Crosses. Most of our Christmas Services will continue as planned but please do not feel under any obligation to attend if you are at all anxious about the current situation. We don’t want anyone to put themselves at unnecessary risk, so if you are worried, please stay at home with our blessing and join in with the on-line services instead. These can be found here:

Carol Service: https://youtu.be/MWvzhWq9iuo

Christingle: https://youtu.be/phUfYCE7CG8

Spiritual Communion: https://youtu.be/i3KwshG5N4M

These are all also on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page.

You can also join the services on Zoom at 23.00 Christmas Eve or 10.00 Christmas morning.  Rev’d Alexis Smith (01686 641992 or smith.sparrowssong@gmail.com) can let you have the link for these. Never Zoomed before? Why not try it?

**If you do decide not to attend a service you have booked in for, please can you let the person you booked with know, in case anyone is on a waiting list for that church.**

Changes to Christmas Services

Because of the deteriorating situation and the fact that has impacted on the number of ministers available, we have made two changes to the Christmas Services:

The 09.30 service on Christmas Morning at Buttington will now be Communion from Reserved Sacrament (ie. consecrated at an earlier service and administered by a Licensed Lay Minister).

The 11.00 service at Guilsfield on Christmas Morning has been cancelled. Those who were intending to go to that service are encouraged to attend the service at 21.00 on Christmas Eve instead or else one of the services in one of our other churches (details below).

Apologies to those who are affected by these decisions, but we have to do what is necessary to protect the vulnerable and reduce risk for all.

The remaining services (with contact for booking) are as follows:

Christmas Eve:

18.00 Llandrinio (May Hillier – 01691 831484)

19.45 Llandysilio (Carol Davies – 01691 831008)

21.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

23.15 Penrhos (Jim Thompson – 01691 828438)

23.30 Welshpool (Sue Williams – 01938 553286)

Christmas Day:

09.30 Buttington – Reserved Sacrament (Peter Stedman – 01938 554855)

10.00 Berriew (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

10.00 Pool Quay (Judy Crowe – 01938 590453)

10.30 Castle Caereinion (Viv Lancaster – 01938 850507)

And another reminder, it is necessary to prebook seats at all these services. We have detailed risk assessments in place for all our churches to ensure we can keep all those attending as safe as possible but they are dependent the number of seats available. If you haven’t booked, and there’s no room, you will not be allowed in. You won’t be the first person to experience that at Christmas, but you won’t be able to blame the Romans this time, it’ll be because you didn’t book!

Christmas On-Call

Your stipendiary clergy have some time off after Christmas and one of the advantages of team ministry is that we can ensure we can do that with someone still being available. So for the 8 days after Christmas if you need to contact a minister please do so as follows in the first instance:

26/12 Steve 01938 553164                     29/12 Toby 077 7024 5073                 1/1 Steve 01938 553164

27/12 Alexis 01686 641992                     30/12 Caroline 01938 554245           2/1 Steve 01938 553164

28/12 Alexis 01686 641992                     31/12 Toby 077 7024 5073

(Caroline isn’t working less than the rest of us, Steve just asked her last so there was only one gap left to fill!)

Looking ahead to 2021

Due to the current Covid situation, and the way that impacts on availability of ministers, we will be reducing the number of in-church services in January. Things may well change, for better or for worse depending on developments, but provisionally this will mean there will be a service:

  • Every other week in Berriew, Guilsfield, Llandysilio, Montgomery & Welshpool.
  • Once a month in Buttington, Castle, Forden, Llandrinio, Llandyssil, Penrhos & Pool Quay.

Hopefully, before too long, we will see improvements as a result of the current lockdown and also those most vulnerable starting to be vaccinated.  In the meantime we’ll try to keep you informed. Have as good a Christmas as you can!

This Week’s On-Line Services – 20th December

If you’ve been missing singing carols then this Sunday’s on-line Carol Service is for you. Nine familiar carols to sing-a-long to, as well as the nativity story in bible readings and reflections. Big thanks to Buttington church for hosting us, Phil Harratt for playing the organ, Peter Steadman for helping with the readings and Rev’d Toby Jones for filming, recording and editing it.

Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/MWvzhWq9iuo

Also available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning.

Other On-Line Christmas Services

Toby also filmed and is editing our Christmas Spiritual Communion Service led by Archdeacon Barry and hosted by Llandrinio church. This will be available on Christmas Eve for those unable to attend a service in church. It will be on the ‘Pool Mission Area’ Facebook page on Christmas Eve and on YouTube too. If you need the YouTube link please email Steve at revswillson@btinternet.com.

There will also be Zoom services at 09.30 on 20th Dec, 23.00 on 24th Dec  and 10.00 on 25th Dec. Rev’d Alexis Smith (smith.sparrowssong@gmail.com or 01686 641992) can let you have the link for these. We’re really grateful to Alexis and her team for providing our weekly zoom services over the last few months, it a lot of work in preparation and we really appreciate it!

In-Church Worship

Services this Sunday are as detailed last week except for the correction that there is no service at Buttington this Sunday.

Our Christmas Communion Services are as follows:

Wed 23rd Dec

19.30 Montgomery (Helen Hayes – 01686 668545)

Christmas Eve

18.00 Llandrinio (May Hillier – 01691 831484)

19.45 Llandysilio (Carol Davies – 01691 831008)

21.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

23.15 Penrhos (Jim Thompson – 01691 828438)

23.30 Welshpool (Sue Williams – 01938 553286)

Christmas Day

09.30 Buttington (Peter Stedman – 01938 554855)

10.00 Berriew (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

10.00 Pool Quay (Judy Crowe – 01938 590453)

10.30 Castle Caereinion (Viv Lancaster – 01938 850507)

11.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

As emphasised last week, it is necessary to prebook seats at all these services – the contact number for each is provided above. We know it’s strange, but it has to be done to ensure that we can provide a safe place where people can feel comfortable coming to worship.

Please note that on Sun 27th Dec there are no services in any of our churches.

Christmas On-Call

Your stipendiary clergy are entitled to some time off after Christmas and one of the advantages of team ministry is that we can ensure we can do that with someone still being available. So for the 8 days after Christmas at least one of us will be available if needed – please approach that person in the first instance:

26/12 Steve 01938 553164

27/12 Alexis 01686 641992

28/12 Alexis 01686 641992

29/12 Toby 077 7024 5073

30/12 Caroline 01938 554245

31/12 Toby 077 7024 5073

1/1 Steve 01938 553164

2/1 Steve 01938 553164

(Caroline isn’t working less than the rest of us, I just asked her last so there was only one gap left to fill!).

Mission Area News

2020

Well, what a year it’s been! Not one that many of us will remember very fondly We’re sure!! But none-the-less we can look back over it and be very positive about the amount that has been achieved despite the trying circumstances. We have found news ways of being church, some of which have enabled us to reach people who would not normally come into our buildings and get the gospel message to places it wouldn’t normally be heard.

We’d like to thank you all for the commitment you have shown in continuing to support your local churches in so many ways and in reaching out to those around us, which is, after all, what the church is here for. We’d especially like to thank the Shared Ministry Team and all those in our churches who have ensured our churches continued to be beacons of light in their community and have enabled us to reopen in most places.

Christingle in a Bag

Another big thank you to all those who have sponsored a child’s Christingle and those who have helped with the distribution, which has been a little fraught due to the short notice decisions to end in-school learning 4 days early! We still managed to get a ‘Christingle in a Bag’ to well over 400 children in Arddleen, Castle Caereinion, Forden, Guilsfield, Llandysilio and Welshpool.

It is still possible to collect a ‘Christingle in a Bag’ from any of the following:

Four Crosses area – ring Jenny on 07508 023055

Berriew/Castle Caereinion area – ring Sue & Richard on 01938 850341

Montgomery area – ring Shirley on 01938 580375

Welshpool area – collect from Church House* on

Sunday 20th Dec.   12.00-13.00

Monday 21st Dec   12.30-13.30

Tuesday 22nd Dec. 12.00-13.00

*access via the Church House car park, through the stone gateway opposite Chilli’s Takeaway on Church Street.

The on-line Christingle Service is available now on the ‘Pool Mission Area’ Facebook page and on YouTube – https://youtu.be/ybwBrn_A_sE.

Thanks to Eleri, Emily and Jenny Willson for musical contributions and Jenny again for filming and editing.

Looking ahead to 2021

The beginning of the vaccination programme gives us a lot of hope for the new year, but it is clear from the current Covid situation that the first few months are going to be pretty rough. The Welsh Government have already confirmed that a national lockdown will begin on 28th December and we can be pretty sure it will follow in England, despite what Boris Johnson has said today.

We have received guidance confirming that places of worship will be allowed to remain open. Alex Glanville (the Church in Wales’ Head of Property Services who is liaising with WG for us) comments, “I believe Welsh Government now recognises the value of having places of worship open to support the well-being of people despite the significant restrictions in other areas.  However, the need for extra care and rigorous implementation of risk management procedures is more important than ever.”

For your prayers

Please keep Ghillie Clarke from Pool Quay in your prayers over Christmas along with Jordan the roofer and others who are ill, anxious, lonely or depressed at this time. Pray for all who will find Christmas hard because of separation from those they would normally be with, because of domestic abuse or because of poverty. But also give thanks for the joy that will fill many homes over Christmas, the kindness we see in our communities as people endeavour to care for one another, the commitment of those who will be working to keep us safe over the holiday period and the hope that the hard-working scientists have given us as the vaccination programme begins to be rolled out. “The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it”.

The Next Exciting Installment…

The next MA News will be on 8th January, 2021.

On-line Worship – 13th December

This week’s on-line service is a little different to usual. At St Mary’s in Welshpool they have ‘memory baubles’ on their Christmas tree, donated by people from the community in memory of absent friends they will be thinking of at Christmas. This week’s service is picking up on that idea and giving others the chance to do the same. It was a Willson family affair this week – thanks to Jennie for leading and producing the service, Eleri for singing and Emily for reading. Steve just made helpful noises of encouragement 😉.  The link for the service is here: https://youtu.be/phUfYCE7CG8

If you would prefer something more Advent-themed for your worship this week, can we point Facebook users in the direction of our next door neighbours in Caereinion MA?  Rev’d Jane James’ lovely Advent services can be found on the ‘Meifod Group of Parishes’ Facebook page.

On-line Worship – Christmas Services

Next Sunday’s on-line service will be a Carol Service. We are all sad to miss out on singing carols in church this year but you can sing away to your heart’s content in your own house next Sunday. Phil Harratt will be playing the traditional tunes, interspersed with readings telling the Christmas Story. There will also soon be an on-line Christingle Service to be used with the Christingle in a bag resources we are distributing and an on-line Spiritual Communion service led by Archdeacon Barry available on Christmas Eve for those unable to get to a service in church.

There will also be Zoom services at 09.30 on 20th Dec,  23.00 on 24th Dec  and 10.00 on 25th Dec. Please contact Alexis (01686 641992) for the link for these.

In-church Worship

Services this Sunday are much as usual, after that the following services are planned in our churches in the run up to Christmas. It will be necessary to prebook a seat at all of these services – the contact number for each is provided below:

Thursday 17th Dec

19.00 Penrhos (Jim Thompson – 01691 828438)

Saturday 19th Dec

15.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

Sunday 20th Dec

09.30 Buttington (Peter Stedman – 01938 554855)

09.30 Llandyssil (Gwen Cooper – 01686 668104)

10.00 Llandysilio (Carol Davies – 01691 831008)

10.30 Castle Caereinion (Viv Lancaster – 01938 850507)

10.30 Llandrinio (May Hillier – 01691 831484)

10.30 Pool Quay (Judy Crowe – 01938 590453)

10.45 Montgomery (Helen Hayes – 01686 668545)

11.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

11.00 Welshpool (Sue Williams – 01938 553286)

11.30 Forden (Alexis Smith – 01686 641992)

10.00 Berriew (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

There are services at Fron and Pantyffridd too but I believe these are already fully booked.

Wed 23rd Dec

19.30 Montgomery (Helen Hayes – 01686 668545)

Thurs 24th Dec (all Holy Communion)

18.00 Llandrinio (May Hillier – 01691 831484)

19.45 Llandysilio (Carol Davies – 01691 831008)

21.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

23.15 Penrhos (Jim Thompson – 01691 828438)

23.30 Welshpool (Sue Williams – 01938 553286)

Friday 25th Dec (all Holy Communion)

09.30 Buttington (Peter Stedman – 01938 554855)

10.00 Berriew (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

10.00 Pool Quay (Judy Crowe – 01938 590453)

10.30 Castle Caereinion (Viv Lancaster – 01938 850507)

11.00 Guilsfield (Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245)

Sunday 27th Dec

No services in any of our churches.

Booking Seats

I appreciate that it seems very strange to have to book a seat for church but I trust that you will appreciate that it is necessary at this time. It is very difficult to gauge likely demand for Christmas services and we want to avoid having to turn people away on the day. Several of our churches are very limited in their current capacity (less than 15) and most churches are likely to be fully booked. Please also be considerate of those taking bookings for us if you find your preferred service is already full. If that is the case you will be offered a place at another service in the same church or encouraged to contact one of the larger churches that may still have capacity. Another potential problem is that you may not be able to sit with people from your household/Christmas Bubble. Even though this is legally permitted, some of our churches cannot accommodate groups or 3 or 4 – some can’t even accommodate couples together! We will do what we can, but stewards have been given clear instructions about where people can be accommodated within the 2m social distancing guidelines that will help to keep everyone safe.

Why we can’t sing

As already mentioned, most of us are sad that we can’t sing carols in church this year. The Welsh Government has this week clarified the guidance on Carol Singing and you may be interested to read this if you want to know more about what is allowed and why indoor congregational singing is not. One concession that the new guidelines have made is that outdoor singing is now permitted under certain circumstances, notably with social distancing, face coverings worn and limited to 30 people maximum. I don’t imagine there will be a rush to have a carol service outdoors, but you might like to consider ending your Christmas Service with a carol that people can sing outside (with an option to stay in the warm and just listen!). The full guidance is here:  Singing over the festive period | GOV.WALES

We had planned a Service of Readings and pre-recorded Music as an option to replace Carol Services. However, we have run into problems with copyright permission, so what form this may take is likely to vary from one church to the next.

Christingle volunteers

Our Christingle in a Bag plans have been thrown into disarray by today’s announcement that most Powys children will not be in school after next Monday, so at this point we cannot say precisely what will happen next week! Having already asked the local supermarkets for 500+ oranges we may have some problems! We will contact those who have kindly volunteered to help as soon as we have created a new plan!

Church Family

Our apologies to Jennie Brignell, who Steve inadvertently ordained in the email to MAC members earlier in the week! We are saddened to say farewell for now to Joan Upton-Holder, who died this week. Joan was the organist at Guilsfield church for many years and also taught her successor. Please continue to remember Ghillie Clarke from Pool Quay who is terminally ill and Jordan, one of the roofers who has been working on Pool Quay church, who was seriously injured in a road accident last week.

Any queries about any of the above to Steve Willson, MA Leader, please (01938 553164) and anything you want included next week (18/12) too. After that the next MA News will be on 8th January in 2021!

This Week’s Service – 6th November

Here is the YouTube link for this week’s on-line service: https://youtu.be/LcX5fMoWYcQ

Also available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning as usual.

‘Just Checking in Today’

See a very uplifting story called ‘Just Checking in Today’ but note that we do not have to be in a church to ‘check in’ with God. Anywhere will do, because God is already there!

Mission Area News – 5th November

Advent Calendars

You might like to check out two really good Advent Calendars that are available on-line this year:

14 year old Catrin McDougal has designed and produced a fabulous advent calendar for St Nicholas church, Montgomery,  with lots of interesting videos from people across the community (Day 3 has been my favourite so far!).  You can find it on this website: https://www.montgomery-wales.co.uk/christ/advent/advent.php.  Scroll down on the front page and click on the door for the day, then click on the little square with an arrow coming from it to access the video treat for the day.

There is also an Advent Calendar on the Diocesan Website, again with a video treat behind the door for each day. You can see some of the good things going on across the diocese as well as find things to reflect on as we prepare for Christmas.  The link is here: https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/advent-calendar/.  Click on the door, read the blurb, hover over the picture and press ‘play’.

Christmas Service Details

We’re still fine-tuning a few details, hopefully there will be a list of the Christmas services in all our churches next week.

Christmas Bubbles in church

The Welsh Government have clarified that ‘Christmas Bubbles’ can be treated as one household, and so can sit together at Christmas services between 23rd  and 27th December. You will need to book a seat of any our Christmas Services during this period and if you would like to sit with others in your household please tell us when you book so we can can arrange that in churches where it is possible. Please also note that this may not be possible for all sizes of household or in all of our churches.

The Winter Child

Bethan Scotford has set the words of a poem, The Winter Child, by Malcolm Guite, the chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge, to music.  It is sung here by Ian Harrison in Guilsfield Church accompanied by Bethan:

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This Week’s On-Line Service – 29th November

Here is the link for this week’s on-line service: https://youtu.be/owKZAUAtcLQ

Also available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning.

Mission Area and Diocesan News

Christingle in a Bag

A big thank you to all those who have already offered their time to help pack the bags  or have agreed to sponsor a child’s Christingle at £2 each. Further offers would be very welcome. Having requested last week that people give by direct transfer to the MA bank account if at all possible, We helpfully forgot to give you the bank details! They are:

Name: Pool MA      Sort Code: 30-99-30          Acc.No: 16205568.

Please make the bank reference ‘Christingle’ so we know what it’s for. Thanks.

No response from your friendly Mission Area Leader?

Apologies if you have recently left a message on Steve’s answerphone and not had a reply. He had a problem with accessing it and has lost a couple of messages. All sorted now, so he has asked you to ring again, if he hasn’t returned your call, in case yours was one that was lost? he will be get back to you as soon as possible.

Bishop’s Advent Message

As is his custom, Bishop Gregory has produced an Advent message for all of our churches this Sunday. This exists in five formats: an English video, English and Welsh audio, and English and Welsh written format. If you want a sneaky peak before Sunday, see 2020 Advent Message ENGLISH, the others are available here:

In English – https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/bishopgregory/advent-message/.

In Welsh – https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/bishop-st-asaph/advent-message/?lang=cy.

They can also be accessed via this Dropbox link so that you can download the film/audio files. You may find this an easier method to use rather than via the website:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/y035uodizudndzy/AAD__Ysr0MDqw_3kRH8HWHvMa?dl=0.

The Church in Wales Bishop’s call to prayer

The bishops of the Church in Wales are issuing a united Invitation to Prayer to all the nation to pray for God to be at work in our midst.  The invitation asks every person who wishes to join us in saying a prayer at 6.00pm every evening.  See the invitation at 201116 Bench of Bishops Invitation to Prayer.  The link to this, and all Advent resources is:

https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/about-us/our-campaigns/darkness-light/advent-call-prayer/.

On-Line Advent Calendar

The diocese’s Communications Officer, Karen Maurice, has put together a selection of treats for each day of Advent in our online Advent Calendar, which can be found here: https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/advent-calendar/.

It’s a great resource to use and share – well worth a look.

What’s going on in the diocese?

In between meetings of the Diocesan Conference the planning of the Diocese is moved forward by the Diocesan Standing Committee on which our MA has two representatives, Steve Willson, the MA Leader, and James Turner from Castle Caereinion. They produce a summary of their meetings so you can keep up with what’s developing across the diocese. See the latest one Standing Committee Bulletin 20.11.24 if you want to know more.

Ever considered helping lead worship?

In January several people in the Mission Area are going to be joining a short on-line training course for new Worship Leaders. The course will cover various aspects of worship leading for both liturgical services and family services. If you would also be interested in exploring this possibility please contact Steve Willson on 01938 553164 or via revswillson@btinternet.com.

Our responsibility to care

Powys CC have made a decision to not offer accommodation to unaccompanied child migrants. Montgomery worshipper  and County Councillor Stephen Hayes is trying to get this decision reversed. You can express your support for a more compassionate approach to children who have suffered so much by sending an email of support to cllr.stephen.hayes@powys.gov.uk.

(Thanks to Stephen for challenging this decision and to Jenny Brignell & Bethan Scotford for drawing it to our attention).

For your prayers
The increased incidence of Covid in the local area means that there are many people in need of our prayers at this time. Several members of our churches are also struggling with illness of one sort or another, so please remember them too, especially Ghillie Clarke from Pool Quay who is terminally ill. A number of people have also suffered bereavements recently and amongst those we have lost was one of our churchwardens, Kath Broxton from Belan Church. We are sad at her passing from our midst but grateful for her ministry and her faithfulness. Rest in peace, Kath, and rise in glory.

Christmas Services

We are busy planning what services we can hold in our churches and what we can offer on-line. Details are still being finalised but we should be able to say more next week and the December service rota will be out in a few days.

On-Line Sunday Service – 22nd November

Here’s the YouTube link for this week’s virtual service: https://youtu.be/pf6j_eIrOoQ.

As usual it will be on our Facebook page on Sunday morning as well.

Mission Area News

Want to make a child’s day?

We’ve had a very enthusiastic response from local schools to ‘Christingle in a Bag‘ – which means we are having to have to get hold of an awful lot of oranges etc and will need a lot of bag preparers!  We are writing to local supermarkets and see what we can get them to donate and the schools will contribute some of the cost but we would also like to invite church members to ‘Sponsor a Child’s Christingle’. A suggested donation of £2 per child will help cover our costs.

In the current circumstance, a direct payment to the ‘Pool Mission Area’ bank account would be the ideal way of donating, alternatively a cheque payment via any of the clergy (Unfortunately, cash payments are not very helpful at the current time).

Please consider donating so that we can ensure as many local children as possible share in the joy of receiving a Christingle and reminded of what Christmas is all about.

We will also need quite a lot of volunteer bag-packers at various locations nearer the time, please can you reply to this email if you can help, giving a contact number and which town/village you live in.

Thanks very much for considering helping our outreach in this way.

Doorstep Carols

We’ve not had any response to the Doorstep Carols idea, so if you’d like to see this happening you need to let Steve Willson know or we’ll focus on the things there is demand for.

Memory Baubles

Each year St Mary’s Church, Welshpool, decorates its Christmas tree with baubles remembering friends and relatives of parishioners.  If you wish to donate a bauble in someone’s memory please send your request by email (ashfordct@btinternet.com) or Facebook message wherever possible.  Please ensure you include the name of the person/short message (not more than 20 characters per bauble please) AND your own name and contact number in case we have any queries. Please make sure you have your requests in by Friday 4th December.

Donations can be made via https://www.gofundme.com/f/memory-baubles .  If you are unable to donate online please deliver donations to The Vicarage, Church St, Welshpool, SY21 7DP.

As you will understand, things are a little different, so although we will still hold the bauble service in St Mary’s on Sunday 13th December at 11.00, if you wish to attend you will need to book a place by calling Sue on 01938 553286.

We will also include the baubles in an online service, available on Facebook or YouTube from 13th December – search for Pool Mission Area. Please be sure to advise us if you do not wish your bauble to appear in the on-line service.

This Week’s On-line Services – 15th November

Here’s the link for this week’s service on YouTube : https://youtu.be/vylwEMZQw18.

It is also available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page as usual.

Latest Mission Area News and Information

Grateful thanks to all those who helped ensure that the Acts of Remembrance that took place in various church yards were conducted safely – both those who organised  or attended them and those who chose to stay away to ensure they weren’t overcrowded! We are also very grateful for the positive feedback about last week’s on-line service which Toby stitched together beautifully from the many pieces presented to him!

Planning for Christmas

Having made as good a job of Remembrance as we could under the circumstances, we now move on with planning for Christmas. The Welsh Government is clearly trying to ensure that restrictions over Christmas are limited as much as possible and we live in hope that we will be able to hold a Christmas service in most, if not all, of our churches (gentle reminder to those churchwardens who haven’t already replied to the MA Leader’s email regarding churches’ preferences to do so please).

Recognising that we won’t be able to hold all the services we would normally, and also that attendance will be restricted at those that do happen, we have been exploring other possibilities to enable those who can’t attend to hear the Christmas message:

  • A number of different on-line services will be available (details nearer the time).
  • We are also hoping to provide ‘Christingle in a Bag’ in places where there would normally be a Christingle service. The various things necessary to make your own Christingle at home will be provided in a bag that can be collected beforehand and used in conjunction with an on-line service. Please contact Steve Willson if you want more details of this.
  • We are also exploring the possibility of connecting with a BBC Radio Shropshire initiative  https://www.doorstepcarols.co.uk/. If you would be interested in helping organise this in your community, again please get in touch with Steve Willson.
  • Finally, we are encouraging local schools with whom we would normally have Christmas services to make use of on-line material and/or engage with Christingle.

Changes to Restrictions

Over the last week or so we have received further new guidelines. Key points are as follows:

  1. The number of people attending a service, wedding or funeral inside a place of worship remains dictated by the safe capacity of the building to keep people at 2 metre physical distancing.  There is, however, a limit of 15 people attending any activity within a community centre (which would include a church hall or church used as a community centre).  The limit of 30 people, physically distanced, remains for organised outdoor services.
  2. Funeral and Wedding services can continue as previously but these remain by invitation only.  There is a limit of 15 people attending any reception or wake after such services which can only be held in Covid-19 secure premises such as a hotel or community centre (not in private homes).
  3. Activities in community centres (church halls):  Any activity can legally be undertaken as long as it is organised by a club or recognised body within the legal limits on numbers attending and does not include the sale or consumption of alcohol.’  Social gatherings including parties cannot take place.
  4. Limited choral singing has been confirmed as permissible under WG guidance published Monday 09.11.20. It is now possible for an organised group of musicians or singers to play a part in services but a specific risk assessment listing mitigating actions should be prepared.  Organised or choir singing should be facilitated by establishing fixed groups of up to six people who can remain consistent and rehearse and perform together.  There should be barriers to transmission between each group of six in rehearsal and performance.  However, the guidance is complex and those who wish to plan to start choral singing again should carefully review the Welsh Government guidance at https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html

It should be noted that congregational singing is still not permitted, only choral singing is allowed and that only under strict conditions and subject to Risk Assessment. There is also a useful FAQ’s page on the Welsh Government website which will be helpful for those who are struggling to keep up with what is currently allowed and what is not:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus-regulations-guidance#section-54762.

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter

You can read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for November at 201115 Pastoral Letter Consolation and Desolation.

Remembrance Sunday

As mentioned last week, no church services are allowed on Remembrance Sunday because of the current lockdown, but a short Act of Remembrance is permitted outdoors subject to a limit of 30 people maximum and under strict observance of social distancing rules etc. Several of these outdoor services are taking place but are deliberately not being publicised to help avoid more people attending than is permitted. This is obviously an unfortunate situation, but better than being responsible for an event which could potentially lead to multiple people becoming infected.

If you usually attend a remembrance service at your church, and are happy to participate in an outdoor service, please check locally if something is taking place and whether there might be space.  Planning has been based around the normal numbers attending, so please don’t go to a service if you wouldn’t normally! In the case of larger events, such as Montgomery and Welshpool, there is obviously not capacity for everyone who would normally attend and certainly in the case of Welshpool all places are allocated, so if you wish to pay your respects there please come to the memorial later in the day.

Our on-line service this Sunday is a Remembrance Service, it features several of our war memorials, and will hopefully enable you to remember the people from your community who gave their lives.

Here’s the link for this week’s service on YouTube: https://youtu.be/h4VpwGoNGi4

It will also be available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page as usual.

Church Services from 15th November

It has now been confirmed that churches services will be allowed to restart after the Welsh lockdown ends on 9th Nov on the same basis as before – the limit of 15 people at indoor gatherings does not apply to church services. Services will therefore recommence from Sunday 15th in the churches that had already reopened, and we will work with churchwardens to investigate reopening the MA’s remaining churches if possible.

MA Review

Following the period of consultation, the Mission Area Conference this week agreed our formal response (MA response to Review Doc) to the draft MA Review document produced by the Diocese. We are grateful to all those who engaged in the consultation process and we will now move on to the second phase of the Review Process which involves planning our future work and identifying specific measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals.

This Week’s On-line Services – 1st November

Here’s the link for this week’s service on YouTube : https://youtu.be/-MgW7e6ogE8.

It will also be available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page as usual. Apologies, by the way, that it was a little late appearing on a Fb last week – the automatic upload facility failed to cope with the clocks changing (thanks to Yvette for letting us know there was a problem).

The link for the MA’s Zoom service on Sunday is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88464208359.

Remembrance Sunday

The Welsh Government have confirmed that no in-church services are allowed on Remembrance Sunday but a short Act of Remembrance is permitted outdoors on 7th or 8th November subject to a limit of 30 people maximum and under strict observance of social distancing rules etc. Several such services will therefore be taking place, but unless the usual Act of Remembrance at that location Is attended by less than 30 people there are likely to be restrictions on who may participate. In Welshpool, for example, the Royal British Legion has already allocated all the places. Please check with your local British Legion or alternatively make use of the on-line Remembrance Service that we will be producing for next Sunday.

Church Services from 15th November

As the First Minister confirmed today, details of what restrictions will remain when the ‘firebreak’ lockdown ends on 9th Nov will be announced on Monday. We anticipate that churches that were holding services before this lockdown services will be allowed to restart from Sunday 15th and are planning accordingly. Details will be confirmed next week.

On-Line Services – 25th October

Here is the link for this week’s virtual service: https://youtu.be/xm0LZX71j2s.

Alexis has also arranged an online service by Zoom which is 9:30 am on Sunday. Please let Jenny, the MA Administrator, know if you would like the link to join this service.

Latest CinW Covid 19 Guidance

Please also see link below to the Church in Wales’ updated Covid 19 guidance:

https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/.

Welsh Government Announcement – 19th October

Further to yesterday’s announcement by the Welsh Government, please note that that there will be no services in any of the Mission Area’s churches on Sundays 25th Oct, 1st Nov or 8th Nov, nor will there be a weekday service in Guilsfield during the lockdown period.

Further details regarding whether any short acts of Remembrance will be permitted on Sunday 8th Nov will be publicised once the situation has been clarified.

On-Line Service for 18th October

Here is the link for this week’s service on YouTube: https://youtu.be/It6EGCQRMGk.

News from the Mission Area – 16th October

Thank You!

The Diocesan Secretary has informed us that “Pool Mission has been the most successful Mission Area in the diocese in encouraging its congregations to sign up to the Gift Direct Scheme: currently 105 members of the Mission Area have committed to this way of giving, which represents 40% of your regular adult Sunday attenders. The diocesan average is 28% so your achievement is really significant and a huge credit to you all”.

This is really good news as the churches that will be best able to cope with the financial impact of Covid will be those with the steady income stream which Gift Aid goes a long way to providing.

Diane also said, “If you can convince another 27 people to sign up to the Gift Direct scheme, this will mark an incredible milestone of 50% of your regular Sunday congregations supporting their local church in this way. We would love you to be the first Mission Area to achieve this!”. Another person has since said that they are transferring to Gift Aid, so only 26 more needed! Please try and help us to 50% which will really help our financial situation. Contact Jenny, the MA Administrator, to send you a form or you can sign up on-line in 3 easy steps –

1) Click on this link to go directly to the Church in Wales Gift Direct page:

https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/gift-direct/

2) Towards the bottom of that page, under the heading GIFT DIRECT ONLINE there is a short list of 4 bullet points, the first of which is TO START GIVING TO YOUR PARISH.

3) Clicking on that heading takes you directly to a very short form the would be donor can fill in with their contact details. The Church in Wales will then contact them directly to complete set up payments in a secure manner.

And to answer the questions that are often asked:

Yes, all the money you give goes to the church you nominate, not the diocese or MA.

And so does all the Gift Aid if you are a tax payer.

But, no, you don’t have to pay tax to use Gift Direct.

You can end a Gift Direct arrangement at any time you choose.

And finally, you can also index-link your Gift Direct payment so it rises in line with the Retail Price Index once a year so your gift maintains its value as the years go by.

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter – October

Please see the latest Pastoral Letter for October from Bishop Gregory:  201015 Pastoral Letter.

On-Line Service – 11 October

The link for this week’s MA service on YouTube is here https://youtu.be/MFGrWbeRxlI.

MA Review

A summary of the feedback received will be provided for MAC members, and anyone else who requests it, in due course.

On-Line Service – Harvest Thanksgiving, 4th October

This week’s on-line service is a harvest festival service so that you can keep that celebration at home even if you are not able to get to church service this harvestime.

The service will be on the Pool Mission Area facebook page as usual and the YouTube link for the service is https://youtu.be/eGDGNMFXQJM.

Latest MA News – 3rd October

Obviously, the current situation means that we cannot have any Harvest Suppers or Lunches this year which is a real shame. However, the Arthur Rank Foundation which supports Rural Ministry has produced some resources you can use at home to make a meal you share with your household into a Harvest Thanksgiving.  The Rev’d Hermione Morris, Vicar of Llanfyllin, has kindly adapted them for the local context:  Harvest at Home Supper liturgy_. Please use them yourself if you wish and also pass them on to others you know who may appreciate them.

The following harvest services will be taking place at churches:

Sunday 4th October                09.30 Forden              01686 641992 for details/to book a place

Saturday 10th October           17.00 Montgomery*  01686 668545

Sunday 11th October              09.30 Buttington         01938 554245

10.00 Llandysilio        01691 839903

10.30 Pool Quay          01938 553164   (NB. Revised date)

11.00 Welshpool          01938 553286

11.15 Penrhos*            01691 828331   (see Penrhos Outdoor Harvest 2020)

*Outdoor service

Local Lockdowns

Our understanding of the current situation is that acts of worship are still allowed to continue in areas that are subject to a local lockdown, so, if Powys does end up being locked down again, services may still be able to take place. Obviously people can use their own discretion as to whether they feel safe attending. We will continue to do all that we can to make our churches a safe environment and if we feel that services should be cancelled we will advise people accordingly.

On-line MAC Meeting

A reminder to MAC members that there are Zoom MAC meetings on Monday and Tuesday evenings this coming week as part of the consultation process for the MA Review. You can attend either or both meetings but need to let Jenny know you wish to take part so that she can send you the link for the meeting. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom but wish to take part please ring Steve on 01938 553164 and he will talk you through how it works – it’s fairly straightforward. Those who wish to send a written reply have until Sunday 11th October to send them to Jenny – jennypoolma@outlook.com.

Sunday On-Line Service – 27th September

The link for this week’s on-line MA service is https://youtu.be/CzmWxAdctvE.

This Week’s MA News

Obviously the current situation across the country with Covid is not encouraging but we will continue to do what we can, when we can, whilst keeping a close eye on developments and any new guidelines. Because things can change at short notice I encourage people to continue to ring in to book a place for all MA services currently. Then, if things do change, we can let you know. Sadly we had to cancel the service in Welshpool last Sunday as Steve Willson discovered on Saturday night he had to self-isolate. We were able to ring and inform all those that had booked, but unfortunately several other people turned up to a locked church because we didn’t know they were coming. This is quite likely to occur from time to time as we head into winter and seasonal illnesses increase, because any high temperature or sore throat means self-isolation is necessary (another reason to make sure you get a flu jab!). Happily he was able to get a Covid test quite quickly, with a negative result, so he’s now back out and about (just in case anyone who saw him on Friday is worrying!).

There may be a change to the plans for Pool Quay’s Harvest Service, currently scheduled for 8th October. Confirmation in next week’s MA News and hopefully directly to PQ members before then.

This Week’s On-Line Service – 20th September

On-line services will continue each week – the link for this this week’s service on You Tube is  https://youtu.be/pzJSoHuHLlE.

Forthcoming Services

As stated last week Berriew, Guilsfield, Llandysilio, Montgomery and Welshpool churches will generally have a service every Sunday in the coming weeks, however there are a few exceptions. The need to accommodate the few weddings and baptisms that are still going ahead means that there will be no service at Berriew on 27th Sept or at Montgomery on 25th October. There will also be no service in Guilsfield this coming Wednesday (23rd Sept) as the clergy have an on-line Diocesan Synod.

We are currently aiming to have Forden’s first service back on 4th October and Buttington’s on 11th October. Both will be Harvest services at 09.30. Pool Quay will reopen with a midweek Harvest service at 19.00 on Thursday 8th October. Castle Caereinion have decided not to reopen in the current situation. In addition Penrhos are having an open air Harvest service in the churchyard on Sunday 11th October at 11.15.

Other Harvest services confirmed are Montgomery – Saturday 10th October at 17.00, again an outdoor service, Llandysilio – Sunday 11th Oct at 10.00, and Welshpool – Sunday 11th Oct at 11.00.

New Covid Rules

The new precautions brought in by the Welsh Government this week have led to new guidelines being issued and some subsequent clarifications being added. The key points are:

  • Places of worship are exempt from new max of 6 people for indoor gatherings so we can continue to hold services.
  • The new rule that face coverings must be worn in indoor venues does apply to churches, so face coverings must be worn at all our services from now on, including baptisms, weddings* & funerals.
  • The face covering rule applies to everyone except for children under 11 and those exempted on certain medical grounds. This will require those enforcing the rule (as wardens/sidespersons/ ministers welcoming people to church will need to do) to be sensitive to those who may be exempt.
  • It is permissible to remove a mask temporarily when speaking to a person who has difficulty communicating. This rule is intended to help those who are hard of hearing and tend to lip read.
  • It is allowable for those leading worship to remove their face covering whilst leading “if they cannot effectively do so while wearing one”, and only if they “have taken other sufficient mitigations such as staying continually over 2m away from others and/or wearing a visor” (even then face coverings should be worn for the parts of the service you are not leading).
  • ‘Governance meetings’ are included in the permission to meet for voluntary service, though all other regulations, including wearing face masks, need to be complied with at such a meeting. I would suggest that this option should only be used if absolutely essential and if no alternative is available.

Annual Vestry Meetings etc

Further to the last bullet point above, the Governing Body of the Church in Wales met earlier this month and made amendments to the constitution which means that, subject to various conditions, Annual Vestry Meetings and MAC meetings can now happen as on-line meetings using Zoom or similar technology. If the necessary conditions cannot be met and a face-to-face meeting is considered ill-advised under the current circumstances, then the relevant Archdeacon will have authority to enable the existing church officers to remain in post until next year’s AVM. It was also agreed that where the Electoral Roll has not already been revised, the existing Roll will remain in place until next year’s AVM. The full renewal of the ER will now take place in 2022. Full details of all these changes were sent to clergy today (Thursday). Anyone else who wishes to see the full guidance should email Jenny, The MA Administrator and ask for a copy.

Bishop Gregory’s September Pastoral Letter

Please Bishop Gregory’s September Pastoral Letter:  200915 Pastoral Letter Monthly from +G.

On-Line Service – 13th September

More resources, information and links to services during this difficult time can be found on a ‘For While We Cannot Meet‘ page.

Apologies to those who usually access the weekly on-line service via the Pool MA Facebook page. Although arrangements had been made for the service to post on the page automatically on the last two Sunday mornings, for some reason this didn’t happen and as Steve was on holiday the problem wasn’t picked up. The YouTube version was available so hopefully you were able to access that instead. All being well it will be on Facebook as usual on Sunday.

The YouTube link for this week is https://youtu.be/N0bQXctECfc.

Re-opening of Mission Area Churches

The MA Executive met this week and agreed that we will endeavour to open 4 further churches for Sunday worship during October. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how Covid behaves in the coming weeks and we are monitoring developments in that regard closely. The four churches were chosen on the basis of size & average congregation, and are Buttington, Castle Caereinion, Forden & Pool Quay. In each case the vicar will liaise with the churchwardens to plan the reopening. Each of these churches will only have a service once a month initially, because of the limited number of ministry team members available.

Of the remaining 7 churches, Belan, Fron & Pantyffridd are probably physically too small to host a viable congregation under the existing 2m social distancing rules. For Criggion, Llandrinio, Llandyssil & Penrhos we are happy to consider one-off services for particular events, please let me know if you want to explore this possibility.

We appreciate that this may be disappointing to some who are waiting to be able to worship in ‘their church’ but we are endeavouring to do what we can amidst the current challenges! None of the churches that are having services have yet been fully booked up, so there is always the chance to worship with us elsewhere.

Those who are missing regular communion services might especially like to be aware that midweek service in Guilsfield (Wed 2pm) is always Holy Communion and usually has plenty of space.

Harvest and Remembrance

Usually at this time of year we are busy hosting harvest services and planning for Remembrance. Obviously both of these things will, by necessity, have to be very different this year. None the less we shall try to celebrate harvest where we can over the next 6 weeks both in our on-line service and in the churches where there are services. Hopefully details will be confirmed in time for me to include them next week.

The current rate of Covid infections mean that Remembrance gatherings at war memorials are likely to be very limited this year if they can happen at all. The act of remembering will however continue in whatever way is most appropriate at the time. Again, more details later.

MA Review

The first stage of the Diocese’s review of our Mission Area is nearly complete. This will consist of a written report which gathers together information about the attendance, condition of the church building, etc, for each of our churches and makes a recommendation about how we can work together to enhance the mission of that church to the community it serves.  This report will be sent to all MAC representatives next week and will also be emailed to all MAC reserves we have an email address for.

The MAC will be invited to consider and respond to that report, and then use it as the basis for our planning for our work over the next few years.

We had hoped to be able to hold a face-to-face meeting of the MAC to discuss this as well as an on-line Zoom meeting for those who would prefer not to meet in person. However, the Welsh Government legislation still does not permit such a gathering to take place and, in any case, given recent developments locally and nationally, the Welsh Government might soon restrict gatherings even further as has already happened in England.

Instead MAC members are being encouraged to join with one of two Zoom meetings (Monday 5th & Tuesday 6th October, both at 7.30pm) or to send in a written response to the MA Review document once they have received it.

Having seen the draft version of the Review document I can reassure you that it is generally positive and, whilst we do have some challenges to deal with, it recognises that we have many strengths too. In sending it to me the Diocesan Secretary described Pool as “an amazing MA with lots of potential”. The Review Document is designed to help us to work together to fulfil that potential.

On-Line Service – Sunday 6th September

Please find the link to this week’s service below:

https://youtu.be/Abdekx025m8.

On-Line Childrens’ Group

Please see a poster attached regarding a new Mission Area online children’s group:  Childrens’ Church Poster.

On-Line Service and Other Worship – 30th August

On-line services available every Sunday on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page and also available on YouTube, the link for this week is   https://youtu.be/SrzailPhwho.  (for more information contact Rev’d Toby Jones 01938 552265 or Jennie Willson 01938 553164).

  • Live services through the ‘Zoom’ on-line meeting platform which can be accessed by computer or via a landline telephone (for more information contact Rev’d Alexis Smith 01686 641992).
  • A live Mission Area activity via Zoom for children and young people will start on Sunday 13th September. This will include separate ‘break out’ groups for different age groups (for more information contact Helen Hayes 01686 668545).
  • Dial-a-service provided on 01938 530662  (for more information contact Rev’d Caroline Rhodes 01938 554245).

Sunday Services in the Mission Area

Now the first phase of reopening has been completed, to summarise the services that are now available. All services are open to anyone regardless of where (or if) you normally worship.

The churches that are currently open most Sundays* are:

  • CHURCH                TIME            TO BOOK A SEAT
  • Berriew                   10.00            Rev’d Caroline Rhodes         01938 554245
  • Llandysilio             10.00            Rev’d Alexis Smith                01686 641992
  • Montgomery          10.45            Helen Hayes                           01686 668545
  • Guilsfield                11.00            Rev’d Caroline Rhodes         01938 554245
  • Welshpool              11.00            Sue Williams                           01938 553286

(* some Sundays services might be cancelled to accommodate a baptism or wedding – you will be advised of this if you have booked a seat, or when you try to book. All services are also subject to change in relation to government Covid-19 guidelines).

Guilsfield also have a weekday service on Thursdays at 11.00. This is a service of Holy Communion.

The MA Executive have an on-line meeting scheduled for Tues 8th Sept when the next phase of church reopening will be discussed. Further reopening will be dependent on availability of staff and completion of Risk Assessments and safety precautions.

Mission Area News – 29th August

We’re pleased to be welcoming another new member to our ministry team, albeit on a temporary basis. Nicci Midgley, from Cedewain MA, is training to be a licensed lay minister (LLM – reader) and is on placement with Caroline. It’s good to have you with us Nicci!  On the down side, Stephen Hayes, who has been doing a great job (in Montgomery especially) over the last few months, is also going on placement, which means he will be leaving us for a while. Stephen will be working with a church in Shrewsbury.  Rosemary Rogers, from Berriew, who is also training as an LLM, is continuing on placement in Meifod – but we haven’t forgotten you Rosemary!

The Diocese is co-ordinating a new round of Safeguarding Training for all ministers, children’s & youth workers  and others who hold an enhanced DBS certificate. This will be done on-line using Zoom.  We will be sending more details to those that this is relevant to. If you don’t receive details please let Steve Wilson know.

And finally, Rev’d Steve Wilson is off work this coming week, so if you need to get in touch urgently please contact Caroline instead.

Rev’d Caroline Rhodes      01938 554245           revcarolinerhodes@me.com.

This Sunday’s On-Line Service – 23rd August

The link for this week’s on-line service is here –https://youtu.be/ZrHvh62igiw.

Services at Welshpool

Not much to report this week except to confirm that St Mary’s, Welshpool, is reopening on Sunday 23rd August. Service at 11.00. We can accommodate 27 individuals, but nearly double that if people are from the same household or are ‘bubbled’ so should be room for anyone who would like to attend. But you do still have to book a place – please contact churchwarden Sue Williams to book – 01938 553286 or sueew60@aol.com.

On-Line Services – 16th August

The usual array of other forms of worship are also available:

  • On-line services available every Sunday on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page (also available on YouTube here:  https://youtu.be/hh9qiYS5Yg4)
  • Live services through the ‘Zoom’ on-line meeting platform which can be accessed by computer or via a landline telephone. For details of how to access this Tel Alexis Smith 01686 641992
  • Dial-a-service provided on 01938 530662.

Latest Mission Area News – 15th August

There are four in-church services on offer for the Mission Area this Sunday. Details are below along with contact details of the person you need to contact to book a place (this is necessary to ensure we have room for everyone who wants to attend!)

  • 10.00 Berriew               Morning Worship          Tel. Caroline Rhodes   01938 554245
  • 10.45 Montgomery       Morning Worship          Tel. Helen Hayes         01686 668545
  • 11.00 Guilsfield            Holy Communion          Tel. Caroline Rhodes   01938 554245
  • 15.00 Llandysilio          Reopening Service         Tel. Alexis Smith          01686 641992

The service at Llandysilio this week is actually an outdoor service in the field beside the churchyard. Alexis tells me it is “a celebration of the church’s reopening for Sunday services using a special service written by Rev’d Toby Jones. All are welcome. We will be observing social distancing. The service at Llandysilio on the next Sunday, 23rd August, will be at 10:00 in the church itself. Please call or email Rev. Alexis to book a seat for that service so we make sure we can accommodate everyone.”

We are also hoping to be able to open St Mary’s, Welshpool, on Sunday 23rd now that the Covid outbreak in the town has been eradicated. This is, however, dependent on some work on the building being completed this week, so ring me, Steve Willson, on 01938 553164 on Thursday or Friday for confirmation and to book a place.

On-Line Sunday Service – 9th August

Our pre-recorded service will be on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning as usual and can also be accessed via You Tube using this link – https://youtu.be/ukJfHHxRGQM.

Latest Mission Area News – 8th August

We are moving ahead with reopening some churches for Sunday worship. Guilsfield and Montgomery have now held services and Berriew will have their first service this weekend.  All our services are currently for anyone in the Mission Area, so if ‘your church’ is not yet open but you would like to attend one of the services elsewhere, you are very welcome to do so. We are having to be very careful to ensure that we can accommodate anyone who attends to please do let someone know that you are hoping to attend so they can ensure there is enough space:

Berriew 10.00 – contact Rev’d Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245

Montgomery 10.45 – contact Mrs Helen Hayes – 01686 668545

Guilsfield 11.00 – contact Rev’d Caroline Rhodes – 01938 554245

We are working on Llandysilio and Welshpool opening in the next few weeks too and then will take stock and assess demand & our ability to staff our services, before deciding on the next steps. Hopefully we will be able to reopen further in September.

In the meantime we continue to offer a weekly service via the Zoom on-line meeting platform. For details on how to access this by computer or telephone contact Rev’d Dr Alexis Smith 01686 641992.

This Week’s Sunday Service – 2nd August

Latest MA News

The MA’s first ‘in-church’ service for 4 months happened at Guilsfield last Sunday. All 20 available places were booked, but they are also having a mid-week service on Wednesday’s at 14.00 and there were spaces available this week so if anyone wishes to book for next week contact Caroline on 01938 554245.

We are hoping to have the first services in Montgomery, Berriew and Llandysilio on 2nd, 9th & 16th August respectively. Welshpool is currently on hold because of a local outbreak of Covid-19 in the town. In each case you will need to book if you wish to attend, via Caroline for Berriew, via Alexis 01686 641992 for the other two. All of these plans are subject to change if there are any changes to the degree of risk locally.

We hope that our other churches will follow over time as the demand increases and we’re able to get their risk assessments done, but this will be dependent on having sufficient staff available. Many of our ministry team are ‘at higher risk’ for one reason or another and those who are available are advised not to take more than one service on a Sunday to avoid any potential risk of cross-infection between congregations. Some churches are likely to choose to remain closed for the time being and those that do open will probably not have a service every week. In the meantime feel free to worship in one of the churches that is open.

As we are now able to hold baptisms, wedding and funerals in church, subject to similar limitations, we also need to allow for these in our planning, which may affect the availability of the church for other services because after any service we are not using that building for 72 hours. In some cases, churches which are not already open for worship may be used to hold such services. All such services currently have to be by invitation only so, if there is a funeral taking place, please do not assume you are able to attend unless you have received a specific invitation from those arranging the funeral. Families have to agree a seating plan with the cleric conducting the service and only those named on it are able to attend.

Can we again emphasize that we don’t want anyone to feel under pressure to return to church. Covid-19 is a deadly virus, it’s still about and it’s entirely reasonable for people to be very cautious about leaving the safety of their homes, all the more so if you are in one of the higher risk groups. If you are anxious about the risk please stay at home. We will continue to provide worship by other means for the foreseeable future.

This week’s service on-line can be found here https://youtu.be/p6dpbilyTzI or on our Facebook page on Sunday.

Roots Material for August

The roots resources below are for the whole of August:

https://www.rootsontheweb.com/seasons-and-festivals/festivals/holidays/resources-for-planning-leading-and-running-holiday-clubs/matthew-summer-club/sessions.

Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter – 30th July

The latest pastoral letter from Bishop Gregory:  200730 Pastoral Letter ENG.

Sunday Service – 26th July

Sunday’s service will be on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning and also available on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/V6w5tcJAhRE

We’re grateful to Caroline and Peter & Jill Stedman for their contributions this week.

Latest News from the MA Leader

The preparations for reopening some of our churches have been progressing this week. Because of the level of preparation required, the problems that will emerge as we go along and the limited capacity that we’ll have (for as long as the 2m distancing rules are in place) we are beginning fairly cautiously. People will initially be advised locally when churches first reopen and it is likely to be necessary to book a place, so that we can ensure attendance is within the available limits. As the number of churches open increases, we will advertise more widely so that all those who wish to attend will have opportunity to do so. The reopening of St Mary’s, Welshpool, will be delayed as we currently have an outbreak of Covid-19 in town which makes reopening unwise until the Test and Trace team have done there work and enabled it to be brought under control.

In the meantime we will continue to provide worship on line or via the phone-in option for as long as there is demand for that.

There’s a good reflection on coming back to church in this week’s pastoral letter from the Bishop: 200723 Pastoral Letter.  See also the reading sheet for this week:  A Proper 12.

Jeanette Wilkes has asked me to thank all those who have been praying for her father. He is now back home and clear of Covid which is a huge relief. Please continue to pray for Sally Orme and Roger and Barbara Bird.

Roots Material – 26th July

This week’s Roots resources for children and families are here:

www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome26jul.   www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome26jul.

Bishop’s Latest Pastoral Letter – 23rd July

Here is Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter for 23rd July:  200723 Pastoral Letter.

Sunday Service – 19th July

The link for this week’s service is here: https://youtu.be/cNX9lkGHqgs.

Covid-19 and Church Re-opening News

If you live near one of our churches the chances are that you will have seen a vicar wandering around with a 2m measuring rod this week! We’ve been busy trying to work out how we can safely accommodate people in our buildings when they reopen. The Welsh Government guidelines for reopening are clear that maintaining 2m social distancing is the only basis on which services can recommence. It is important that we apply these guidelines strictly so that those who do feel ready to come back to church, when we reopen, can do so knowing every precaution has been taken to keep them safe.

Having worked out where people can sit, we also have to plan and label safe entry and exit routes, provide hand-sanitisation points, signage, etc, so you will appreciate that a lot needs to be done in preparation. The MA Executive met this week and agreed we should take a careful and measured approach. We will reopen our churches a few at a time, focusing initially on the larger churches (where we can best enable people to keep a safe distance without limiting attendance too severely). Even so attendance is likely to be limited to around 10% of seating capacity and it may therefore be necessary to reserve a place!

The churches we are likely to reopen first are Berriew, Guilsfield, Montgomery, Llandysilio and Welshpool, subject to risk assessments being completed and sufficient staff being available to prepare and open them and to lead worship. We hope that our other churches will follow over time, as the demand increases and we’re able to get their risk assessments done. It’s impossible to offer a definite timescale at this point but we hope to have at least a couple of churches open by the first weekend in August.

The Shared Ministry Team also met this week and have set up different teams to take responsibility for leading worship back in church, via zoom and via YouTube & our Facebook page. This will help ensure that those who don’t feel ready to go back to church yet still have something provided for them.

Hopefully, by this time next week, we will have some more concrete information for you in terms of dates and times. If you have any questions or concerns about any of this please get in touch with Steve, Alexis or Caroline.

One significant change in the new guidelines received this week is that there is no longer a blanket ban on people in the ‘at risk’ groups (ie. those aged 70 & over or with certain medical conditions) leading worship or otherwise ‘working’ for the church. Those who are ‘shielding’ are still advised not to be involved, but the situation of others can be assessed on an individual basis depending on their health and the risks involved in the work they undertake. We will contact those most directly affected by this over the next week (churchwardens, worship leaders and SMT members) but others who want more information can contact me directly if you wish. Please be assured that there will be no expectation placed on anyone to be involved in face-to-face contact unless they feel entirely comfortable about doing so  The same applies to returning to worship when we reopen – please don’t come unless you feel safe to do so, the same God who hears your prayers in church hears them at home.

Please continue to pray for Jeanette’s Dad, Roger & Barbara Bird and Sally Orme.

Roots Material – 19th July

The Roots material for this week is here: www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome19jul.

and here:                       www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome19jul. 

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission.

Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter – 16th July

Here is the latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory:  200716 Pastoral Letter.

Sunday Service for 12th July

The link for this week’s service is here: https://youtu.be/w-POgkDLJfA.

Latest Lockdown News 

Today, Friday 10th July, without any forewarning, we have received the news that many people will have been waiting for – or at least half the news! We’ve received the following message from Bishop Gregory this afternoon:

Dear friends,

Today the First Minister has issued revised guidelines on lockdown restrictions, which will allow our churches to reopen for public worship under very strict guidelines.  The Provincial office team are now working with the Welsh government and with the Bench of Bishops to finalise a set of guidelines for churches which should be available at the beginning of next week. You are advised to consult the Provincial website for further details.  I will expect plans to be co-ordinated across Mission Areas and signed off by the archdeacons in accordance with now established practice.

With my thanks for all your continuing work, and with my blessing,

+Gregory

Obviously we will need to wait for the other half of the news, details of the guidelines, before we are in a position to say how many of our churches can reopen and when.

We know from the guidelines already received regarding private prayer, weddings and baptisms, that the guidelines will be very restrictive, with 2m social distancing rigidly enforced, special hygiene measures, one-way systems, regular cleaning regimes, etc. We also know that people in the ‘at risk’ groups (ie. those aged 70 & over or with certain medical conditions) will not be allowed to lead worship or otherwise ‘work’ for the church in preparing places of worship. This will, of course, significantly reduce the number of services we can have.

Alongside this we need to recognise that much of what normally takes place in a church service is not currently permitted, most notably singing, organ music & sharing in Holy Communion. So services that do happen will be rather different to what we are used to. But I don’t want to be a ‘party-pooper’, not least because the on-going easing of lockdown in Wales is evidence that the number of cases of Covid-19 are continuing to reduce (only 10 new cases in Wales reported today and 0 new deaths, for the second time this week). Hopefully we’ve turned a corner, even if still have to be strict about distancing etc to make sure cases don’t start to rise again.

There will be more details next week when we have seen the guidelines and the Shared Ministry Team have had chance to meet.

Please Pray For

As some of you may have heard, our former colleague Rev’d Jeanette Wilkes’ father has been in hospital with Covid-19. I’m very pleased to say he is back home again now and Jeanette is very grateful to those who have been praying for her and her parents. Please continue to pray for them, Roger & Barbara Bird and Sally Orme.

Roots Material – 12th July

The Roots material for this week is here:

www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome12jul.

and here:

www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome12jul.

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter – 9th July

The latest weekly letter from Bishop Gregory:  200709 Pastoral Letter ENG.

This Sunday’s Service – 5th July

The service for this week is available now on You Tube – https://youtu.be/H1mW7qMMOCg.  Just click on this link (or copy and paste it into your internet search box).  If you use Facebook you’ll find it on the Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday morning.

Roots Material -5th July

This week’s Roots materials for adults and for children:

This week at home:
Resources for adults
www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome5jul
(You can copy and share this url)
Resources for families
www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome5jul
(You can copy and share this url)

Reopening for Private Prayer, Weddings & Funerals

We are still awaiting guidelines from the Church in Wales for reopening for Weddings and Funerals. These were due to be finalised with Welsh Government on Wednesday, 1st July, but presumably there is some sort of snag. Some churches have taken steps to prepare for reopening, but many will not be able to yet, simply because we don’t have enough volunteers to implement all the necessary precautions due to those in ‘at risk’ categories (ie. Aged 70+ or with certain medical conditions) are not permitted to be involved in reopening of churches (this is at the insistence of Welsh Government). If you are not excluded by these restrictions and would be willing to help prepare your church, and indeed other churches in the MA, for reopening please let one of the clergy know so that we have your contact details.

New Curates!

We are delighted that the ordination of nine new deacons for the diocese is going ahead tomorrow (Sat 4th) and that 2 of the new deacons will be working as Curates in Pool MA. Rev’d Jim Thompson won’t need much introduction for many of you as he has been a member of Penrhos church for many years and has been one of our MA wardens for the last few years. Jim is becoming a Non-Stipendary Minister (Local) which means he will remain in the MA after his curacy is completed. Rev’d Toby Jones has come both a long way and a short way to join us. Toby is Australian by birth, but he’s been in the UK for 14 years now and his home church is Manafon, only a couple of miles outside the MA if you travel from Berriew & Pantyfridd towards Llanfair Caereinion. Toby will be a Stipendiary Curate (ie. full-time and paid by the church). Both Jim and Toby are attached to the Mission Area as a whole, rather than any particular church, so you will probably all have chance to meet them once we are able to be out and about again. In the meantime, see a short biography of Toby, Toby Jones bio,  so he can introduce himself to us.

Prayer Update

Please continue to pray for Sally Orme, Pastoral Assistant at Montgomery, who is very ill in hospital, for Rev’d Roger Bird who is hopefully coming home from hospital this week and for Barbara who will have to care for him. We remember with thanksgiving the life and witness of Audrey Daniels, a faithful member of Castle Caereinion church for many years, who died last week and pray for her son Chris and the rest of her family & friends. Please also pray for our new Curates as they settle in to their new roles over the coming weeks and pray for the rest of the Ministry Team as we have to juggle the desire to reopen with the practical challenges of doing so, whilst continuing to provide on-line resources for those who are self-isolating! We’re also trying to deal with a MA Review going on at the same time!

Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter – 2nd July

The latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory is:  200702 Pastoral Letter ENG.

This Week’s Service – 28th June

The service for this week is available now on You Tube – https://youtu.be/7aQfkpEGKso

Just click on this link (or copy and paste it into your internet search box).

If you use Facebook you’ll find it on the Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday morning.

Reopening for Private Prayer

Whilst churches are now permitted to reopen for Private Prayer none of Pool MA’s churches have yet done so. This is because of the large number of things that have to be put in place to ensure strict hygiene control is enforced and social distancing is maintained by all users. The guidelines we have been given also insist that those in ‘at risk’ categories (ie. Aged 70+ or with certain medical conditions) should not be involved in reopening of churches, which obviously has a significant impact on the number of volunteers available to complete these preparations. Consultation with Church Wardens is however continuing, and we hope that some of our churches will be able to open before long.

In the meantime, you may be interested to know that Welshpool Methodist Church has reopened for private prayer. Our friends there say, “Our church in High Street is now open for individual private prayer and reflection at the following times: 10-12 and 2-4 on Mondays and Thursdays, and 10-12 on Sundays. Everyone, from all denominations and none, are welcome.”

Weddings and Funerals

Last Sunday the Welsh Government also announced that weddings could take place in churches, but without giving any details on restrictions.  This announcement seems to have been made without consultation with any faith groups and so this week has seen a lot of hurried meetings & discussions at Provincial Level!  The following statement was issued by the Church in Wales:

“Subject to any updated guidance from Welsh Government, we hope to permit those churches with the resources to manage re-opening safely to do so for funerals and weddings from Monday 6 July. Such events will be subject to strict regulation in respect of numbers, physical distancing and hygiene. The Representative Body will issue further guidance on this during the course of next week. We reiterate that no church will be required to open, and that no clergy should feel pressured to do so at this time.

We await further news as to when church buildings in Wales may be able to re-open for regular services of public worship and continue to liaise with Welsh Government closely in preparation for this.”

The MA clergy will be in touch with the couples who have weddings booked with us once the further guidance has been received.

Roots Material – 28th June

This week’s Roots materials for adults and for children:

https://www.rootsontheweb.com/lectionary/2020/107-may-june-2020-a/proper-8/adultsathome

https://www.rootsontheweb.com/lectionary/2020/107-may-june-2020-a/proper-8/familiesathome

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter -25th June

Please see the latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory:  200625 +G Pastoral Letter.

Sunday Service – 21 June

The service for this week is available now on You Tube – https://youtu.be/lfCQgaVpZuo.  Just click on this link (or copy and paste it into your internet search box). If you use Facebook you’ll find it on the Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday morning.  Thanks for this week’s service are due to Jim Thompson (Penrhos), Carol Davies and Gwen Dixon (both Llandysilio).

Re-opening of Churches for Private Prayer

As you may have heard the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has today announced that churches will be permitted to reopen, for Private Prayer only, from next Monday (22nd June). This is a very positive step forward after 3 months, but it doesn’t mean that all our doors will be open on Monday. Some detailed and fairly restrictive guidelines have been issued on steps that churches have to take before they can reopen. We will be consulting with churchwardens next week on the viability of opening individual buildings.  Here is the statement by the Bishops of the Church in Wales on the subject:

Church buildings: re-opening for private/personal prayer

Welsh Government has announced that places of worship may be re-opened for individuals or households for private (personal) prayer only from Monday 22 June.

  • Places of worship cannot actively organise activities such as services and prayers that will encourage people to gather.
  • Furthermore, religious activity involving physical contact, speaking in unison, singing or chanting and activities which utilise shared equipment will not be permitted
  • A person cannot act as a leader of devotions, a form of service or prayer of any sort
  • A Covid-19 risk assessment must be completed by each place of worship before opening.

A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential. What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time. Any church contemplating re-opening must first undertake a detailed risk assessment. Guidance on what this involves follows below. This includes a risk assessment form that will need to be submitted to your Archdeacon in advance of any re-opening.

Whilst we all look forward to the day that all our churches can open safely, we urge local churches not to rush reopening. Only consider re-opening if you can do so effectively and safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and well-being of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.

The guidance on steps that need to be taken before reopening can be found at the link below. You will see there is an expectation that reopened churches will be staffed, have a cleaning regime in place and be clearly marked to help visitors keep social distancing. There will be some flexibility in how these expectations are met, depending on size of building, likely number of visitors, etc, but churches will be required to assure the Archdeacon that their plans are sufficient to ensure that the church is a safe place for visitors.

https://churchinwales.contentfiles.net/media/documents/Reopening_churches_-_guidance_v4_-_Final.pdf

The Mission Area clergy will be consulting with churchwardens next week regarding which churches (if any) will be reopened at this stage, so:

  1. Please could churchwardens read the guidance notes on the above link.
  2. Other worshippers may wish to let their churchwardens know their opinions on this but please at least have a glance through the full guidelines so you know what is involved.

Roots Materials for Adults and for Children – 21st June

www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome21jun www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome21jun

For your Prayers

Rev’d Roger Bird is still in hospital and after a few days in Newtown has now gone to Shrewsbury as his condition has deteriorated. Please keep Roger and Barbara in your prayers as the medics seek to find appropriate treatment for him.

Tomorrow it will be just two weeks until Jim Thompson & Toby Jones will be ordained to serve as Curates in the MA! Please keep them both in your prayers, especially Toby as he can now prepare to move back to Powys from Cardiff where he has been training.

Pastoral Letter – 18th June

The latest, 18th June, Pastoral Letter from our Bishop, Gregory is at:  200618 +G Pastoral Letter.

Sunday Service – 14th June

For those using the internet the link for this week’s service on YouTube is here: https://youtu.be/588mUEpcRqk.  As usual the service will also be available on the Pool MA Facebook page from Sunday morning.

Looking Ahead and the MAC

For the latest information on the easing of restrictions on the opening of churches and how the Mission Area is currently being managed, an update can be found in this Looking Ahead document.

Roots Resources – 14th June

The Roots material:

 www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome14jun  www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome14jun

is usually only available by subscription but we are currently able to access it as Montgomery church have a subscription. Are you finding it useful? If you are it may be possible to add you as an additional user when Montgomery renew theirs. If you would be interested in finding out more please contact Steve Willson or Helen Hayes (01686 668545 or smhjh@yahoo.co.uk).

Contributions to Dial-a-Service

We have now set up a ‘Dial a Service’ phone line so that we can better support those without internet access (see item below). Anyone can contribute a favourite reading or prayer or a brief ‘thought for the day’-type message so please consider doing this.  Some details of how to record something and send it to Caroline who is running this for us are at:  Dial-a-Service Info for Contributors.

Bishop Gregory’s Letter – 11th June

The latest Pastoral Letter from our Bishop, Gregory, is at:  200611 Pastoral Letter.

Sunday Service – 7th June

Bishop Gregory has been inviting different MAs to contribute to his service from Esgobty each week and it is our turn. So this will be our service for 7th June – you’ll find it on the Diocesan Website here:

https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/coronavirus/digital-prayer-and-worship/worship-from-esgobty/

There probably won’t be a MA News this week. The service will also be on the ‘St Asaph Diocese’ Facebook page.

Roots Resources – 7th June

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.

This week at home:
Resources for adults

This week at home:
Resources for families

Or copy and share this url:

www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome7jun

Or copy and share this url:

www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome7jun

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter 3rd June

The latest Pastoral Letter from Gregory our Bishop is at:  200603 Pastoral Letter.

Pentecost Service

Here is the YouTube link for this Sunday: https://youtu.be/678f1YAiFPE  The service will also be available on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning.

Planning Ahead

The Welsh Government’s lockdown review today has confirmed that there are no changes yet concerning the lockdown regulations affecting churches, nor was there any suggestion that this is likely to change in 3 weeks’ time, when the next review occurs. However, we are already looking at the changes that will need to take place, so that when the situation does change we can implement social distancing and minimise the risk as much as possible. Understandably many people will not be wanting to return to church as long as a significant risk remains and there should not be any pressure on people to do so. We will give more details on the steps that will need to take place when we receive further guidelines and have consulted with key people such as churchwardens for each church.

If you need anything…

Please do get in touch with one of the clergy if you are struggling with anything – we can probably find someone who can help! However I’m taking a week off next week so please ring Caroline (01938 554245) or Alexis (01686 641992) rather than me. The following week it’s Caroline’s turn for a week off so ring Alexis or myself (01938 553164). Alexis had her turn last week so we are trying to look after ourselves even if we cant go anywhere to enjoy it!

Dial-a-Service Phone Line

For those who don’t have access to the internet we have set up a “Dial-a-Service” phone line. This will have a pre-recorded simple service of prayers, a bible reading and reflection each week, and can be called at any time. The telephone number is 01938 530662. It costs  the same as phoning any other 01938 number, and can be included in any ‘free minutes’ on your phone bill, so for many people it will not cost anything. (The first voice you hear is a computerised welcome message- the actual service starts after that).  If you’re reading this online please let your friends and family without a computer know about this if you think they would be interested.  We’re hoping to change the recorded service weekly, and introduce more voices as we get familiar with the technology. If you have any problems (or ideas!) do let Caroline know – 01938 554245. Please do share this information with others who you are in contact with.

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter – 27th May

The latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory can be found here:  200527 Pastoral Letter.

This Week’s Service Materials – 24th May

Here’s the YouTube link for this Sunday’s service which is a family affair this week as Jennie Willson is reflecting on Ascension, with Eleri & Emily Willson doing the readings https://youtu.be/kaSgL0rfOuA. Thanks to all of them for their contribution. It’ll be on the Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday as well. The full readings for Sunday are at:  A Easter 7.

Roots materials here https://www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome24may,

and here https://www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome24may.

Roger Bird

We’re sorry to hear that Rev’d Roger Bird, former Vicar of Guilsfield, is in hospital at the moment. It’s not Covid related and hopefully Roger will be starting to improve by the time you read this, but we send our best wishes to him and Barbara and will keep them in our prayers.

Looking Ahead

It doesn’t currently seem likely that churches will be reopening anytime soon, but you will be glad to know that the Diocese and Mission Area are busy assessing what steps will be necessary before we can reopen churches and what we might practically be able to do when lockdown eases but many people are self-isolating. You will likely hear more about this in the coming weeks but if you have any particular views or comments drop me an email to revswillson@btinternet.com.

What  Do You Think/How are You Coping?

Church Times is supporting an extensive survey on how churches have responded to Coronavirus. This is part of a UK learning experience. The survey is being led by Professor Andrew Village & Dr Leslie Francis.  It would be really helpful if could take part in it. You can access the survey using the following link: https://tinyurl.com/ycsq9fy2.

Supporting Your Church 1

All churches are, like many other charities, struggling financially at this time with very limited income. As mentioned previously, Gift Direct is the best way of helping as it works by direct payment from your bank account to the Church in Wales and then on to your own church. If you are a tax payer and have completed a Gift Aid declaration, the tax is reclaimed automatically without your own church Treasurer having to apply for it. All of this means that you can still support your church even if you are self-isolating (and the treasurer/Gift Aid Secretary’s workload is greatly eased).

Because of the current situation the church has made it possible to sign up for this on-line – simply go to the Church in Wales website via this link:  https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/gift-direct/ and follow the directions given.

Don’t panic if you are not able to do this on-line – we are planning a mailing to all those on our Electoral Roll in the next week or two and will include with it a Gift Direct leaflet which you can fill in and post if that is easier. And if you can’t get to a post box contact me and we’ll find someone who can collect it from your doorstep!

Supporting Your Church 2

Ecclesiastical Insurance are running their annual Movement for Good scheme when a charity or church can be nominated for a donation between £500 and £1,000. Whilst the website states a ‘charity’, churches can also be nominated (I have had confirmation on this) so I would suggest as many of you as possible nominate your church. Each person can only nominate once, but any number of people can nominate the church so get as many as possible to have a look at the website and nominate. It is literally the ‘luck of the draw’ who gets an award, there doesn’t need to be a particular project and you don’t have to argue your case.  However, the closing date is this Sunday so do it now!  https://www.ecclesiastical.com/movement-for-good/ (when filling in the form tick the ‘exempt’ box where it ask for charity status).

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for 20th May

The latest pastoral letter from Bishop Gregory can be found at:  200520 Pastoral Letter ENG.

Service and Resources for Sunday 17th May

I hope that you enjoyed our slightly different service last week. This week follows the more regular pattern as one of our ordinands, Stephen Hayes, sets us thinking about Rogation Sunday. Thanks to Stephen, Jim, Helen and others who took part in the service and, as ever, to Jennie and Jenny for producing and distributing it respectively. The link for the service is here, https://youtu.be/ZQ1v-c9WN_c.

The service will also be posted on the Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday morning.

The readings for this week are A Easter 6. Resources for adults and families, based on these readings, from Roots are here: www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome17may and here: www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome17may.

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for 13th May

The latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory:  200513 Pastoral Letter.

Resources and Service for 10th May

Below is the link for this week’s service which will also be posted on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning. The service is a little different this week, to mark both the VE Day commemoration and also the beginning of Christian Aid week. Some of the liturgy used is from the national VE Day  75th anniversary service:  https://youtu.be/u0fARrGBHk0.

Christian Aid have made a good job of re-gearing Christian Aid week to take account of the current restrictions. There are a large number of resources available on their website including an on-line service with Archbishop Rowan Williams preaching. If you usually support Christian Aid week please do make sure you still support them this year as the lack of events will probably impact on the amount of money donated. The resources and guidance on how to donate can both be found here:  https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week.

A copy of reading sheet for this week is at A Easter 5 and the link for this week’s Roots material for families is here:  https://www.rootsontheweb.com/lectionary/2020/107-may-june-2020-a/easter-5/familiesathome.

Also attached is a report on Foodbanks from the Trussell Trust which may be of interest. Foodbanks are providing a really important service at this point in time and experiencing an increase in demand.

Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter – 6th May

Bishop Gregory has sent his latest pastoral letter:  200506 Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter.

Service for 3rd May

Here is the YouTube link for this week’s service: https://youtu.be/PRfVcVQavVI.

It should also appear on the MA’s Facebook page on Sunday morning, and hopefully on your church’s facebook page too, if it has one.

The readings and prayers for this week are: Readings A Easter 4 – Responsorial Ps and Prayers for Easter 4 3rd May.

News and Resources from the MA Leader – 2nd May

I hope you are doing OK. I’m sure some will be finding lockdown gets harder the longer it goes on, whilst others will be feeling they’ve got used to it now! Hopefully you have found ways of coping as well as ways to worship and grow spiritually despite not being able to go to church. Please pick up the phone and talk to Caroline, Alexis or myself if we can help in any way, or just for a chat.

The links for this week’s family’s resources from Roots are here:  www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome3may.

The ones for adults are here:  www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome3may.

If any of you have children or grandchildren who would like to help brighten the day of people with dementia at this time there are details of how this can be done here:  https://www.pavo.org.uk/news/article/news/a-call-to-brighten-someones-day.html?no_cache=1.

Have you made/coloured/baked/crocheted/created from lego a rainbow during lockdown? The diocese is collecting photos of people showing off their rainbow creations to form the basis of a project for social media and Teulu Asaph. We’re after as many photos as possible (and one might become the cover of Teulu Asaph!) so please email them to karenmaurice@cinw.org.uk by Friday 8 May.

One of the positive aspects of the current situation is that crime rates are down for most offences. An exception to this is domestic violence which is very much on the rise. The police are also concerned about the risk of increased child abuse in the current situation. Both are to a large extent ‘hidden’ crimes but often people close to the victims get an inkling of what is going on. The problem then is how to deal with that suspicion. See a leaflet entitled How to Get Help which explains what your options are in this situation.

Churches, like other charities, are being hit hard by the current situation. The Charity Commission have produced some guidance for charities whose finances are being affected by Covid19. Church treasurers, Trustees (MAC members) and those involved in other charities may like to read this here:  https://www.pavo.org.uk/news/article/news/falling-on-hard-times.html?no_cache=1.

The Heritage Lottery Fund seem to have completely changed their policies at this time in order to support heritage projects that are badly affected by the current situation. So it may also be worth seeing if their advice offers anything your church or other charities you’ve been involved with can access:  https://www.pavo.org.uk/help-for-organisations/funding/funding-news/article/news/support-for-heritage-sector-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html?no_cache=1.

Can I apologise to those who’ve emailed me recently and not got a response. Unfortunately I’ve had an eye infection which has impacted on my vision and so limited my ability to keep up with messages. It’s on the mend now, so hopefully I will reply shortly!

Finally, please pray for the community in Castle Caereinion next Tuesday as they try to mourn for Mike the Shop from a safe distance.

Bishop’s Latest Pastoral Letter – 29 April

Here is the latest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory:  200429 Pastoral letter.

News and Resources from the MA Leader – 25 April

Welcome to this week’s round up of news and resources which includes the YouTube link to this week’s service.

Sadly two of our churches have suffered significant bereavements in recent weeks. Firstly, Montgomery church lost Lynne Bayliss, who was a key member of that church and community. Lynne had borne her terminal illness with calmness & courage and continued her various ministries with faithfulness. She leaves a big gap in her church family, as well as amongst her family and friends. This week, Castle Caereinion are mourning the sudden death of Michael Rogers, or Mike the Shop as he was universally known. Mike was not just keeper of the village shop, he was the source of all knowledge about the people of the community, who cared for and entertained us in equal measure. Rarely does someone’s passing impact on a whole community in the way that Mike’s has.

St Paul depicts us all as running a race, striving to live faithfully whilst being cheered on by the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before us. Just as the crowd rises to welcome marathon runners as they run into the stadium after 26 miles of endurance running, so the crowd of witnesses will be on their feet welcoming these two. Please pray for those who are grieving for them.

On the subject of prayer, the diocese produces a ‘cycle of prayer’ to help us pray, day by day, for the different parts of our diocese, as well as the other dioceses of the Anglican Church. Next month the diocese is praying for us, in Pool MA, so you might like to join them in doing so. See the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer for May, along with the Pool MA Map which may help you locate any of our churches that you weren’t quite sure about!

Resources related to the readings for both adults and young people can be found here:

www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome26apr www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome26apr

The Messy Church website now includes some ideas for Messy Church style activities that families can do together at home. These can be found here:

https://www.messychurch.org.uk/resources/messy-church-home-ideas

Service for 26 April

The link for this Sunday’s Pool MA service is here: https://youtu.be/qgmojVg5WoY

It will also be on the Pool Mission Area Facebook page on Sunday morning.

See the Readings for yr A Easter 3.

Bishop Gregory’s Latest Pastoral Letter

Please the latest pastoral letter from Bishop Gregory: 200422 +Gregory’s Pastoral Letter.

Service for 19 April

The service for Sunday 19 April will be on the MA Facebook page on Sunday morning or at the following YouTube link:

https://youtu.be/koIhrS5ChCE

Copies of the readings and the prayers for 19th April are Reading Sheet A Easter 2 and Prayers for Easter 2 19th April.

Message and Resources from MA Leader

I hope that you are keeping well and staying safe as lockdown continues. I’m sure that this week’s news, that we are continuing as we are for at least another 3 weeks, was disappointing to some even though it was predictable.  We will each cope with the restrictions differently depending on our personalities, so for some this will be more difficult than others. NHS Wales have just produced a pack of information on how to stay well at home which includes guidance on wellbeing and mental health. So if you are finding it hard (or running out of reading material!) you might to follow this link to read more:

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/staying-well-at-home/

If you want some guidance which also addresses the spiritual aspect the Church of England have a booklet which can be found and downloaded here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health/supporting-good-mental-health?utm_source=Chapter%20of%20Canterbury%20Cathedral&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11430090_March%202020%20Updates&dm_i=YM4,6SZII,8XU38V,R9DOZ,1

Also a Roots link for 19 Apr.  www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome19apr

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory

The latest pastoral letter from Bishop Gregory:  Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter 200415

Easter Day

The links for the Easter Day service:

It will be on YouTube from 8pm Saturday evening here:  https://youtu.be/zVK8WI16hPg

And on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PoolMissionArea/ from 8am Sunday morning.

See also a copy of the Bible Readings for Easter Day and the Mission Area Easter 2020 Service Sheet. We have sent a letter out to regular worshippers for whom we do not have an email address to give them some Easter service resources too, this included a letter and a short Easter message from Steve who adds, I do hope that you are still able to celebrate Easter despite the current difficulties and know the presence of the Risen Lord with you in your homes.

Good Friday

A couple of things to help you to mark Good Friday in your own way at home:  Jennie Willson has prepared a beautiful reflective service which you can watch on YouTube or Facebook. Either go to Pool Mission Area’s Facebook page or use one of the links below.

https://youtu.be/gsktNmSLEHk

https://www.facebook.com/PoolMissionArea/

Also see a short prayerful Good Friday reflection designed to help us pray for those in need around us whilst remembering the events we commemorate today.

A Poem for Palm Sunday.

Services during Coronavirus

We are endeavoring to produce a service for every Sunday and are working on making the service for next week, Easter Sunday, a little more special.  Watch this space!  The service for this week, Palm Sunday is available now on You Tube.  Just click on this link https://youtu.be/KunD-mAbxVE (or copy and paste it into your internet search box).  If you use Facebook you’ll find it on the new Pool MA Facebook page on Sunday morning.

As the Palm Sunday gospel reading is so long there’s no sermon, instead the reading is accompanied by a visual depiction of the passion of Christ. This comes to us with permission from a church in Devon. Rev’d Caroline Rhodes has prepared most of the material, with Jessie Skewis (Forden) contributing the prayers. Jenny Willson has put it on-line for us and Helen Hayes has passed on the Roots material below – thanks to all of you.  The reading sheet for this week is at Palm Sunday Readings, as is a copy of the Service of Morning Prayer at Home Caroline produced.

Roots are making available their resources that connect with the Sunday readings. They have materials for adults and for children. These are available as follows:  Resources for Adults:   www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome5apr,  Resources for Families: www.rootsontheweb.com/familiesathome5apr.

Services from Esgobty:  The Bishop has also been producing a weekly service from his private chapel at Esgobty. These appear on the diocesan website, together with all other material for the present time, at https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/coronavirus/digital-prayer-and-worship/worship-from-esgobty/ .  The service released from Esgobty for Palm Sunday, will include the blessing of palms, and which will encourage people to lay their own palm crosses or other items in front of the screen to be include in the blessing.  (which will at least allow people to identify with the ceremonies of the Church).

The Bishop has also produced a Eucharist.  He acknowledges that he is am immensely privileged by having the location to be able to celebrate the Eucharist at home and this liturgy has been designed to enable people to share in the liturgy virtually and to make an Act of Spiritual Communion.

Services are planned to follow for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter (including a Ceremony of Light), and then for the Sundays after Easter.

There is also a Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory at Bishop’s Pastoral Letter.

Church Finances

Apart from the all other difficulties we are all facing, this time of lockdown will have a devastating effect on church finances. Most churches are suffering a severe loss of income and whilst there are some reductions in expenditure (assuming you’ve both remembered and been able to turn your heating off!) many of the other costs remain.

Some churches have already asked whether there can be a break from Share payments to the diocese but this is unlikely as the vast majority of the Share payment is to pay for the clergy and that cost is unaffected by the shutdown. Whilst some people seem to imagine we are sat around twiddling our thumbs whilst we have no services, the reality is that the clergy are as busy as ever; finding new ways of providing worship on-line or via resources people can use at home and also trying to help people in need in the wider community (such as coordinating the volunteer scheme in Welshpool that is taking up a lot of my time at the moment). We are also still trying to support people who have been bereaved which is especially challenging in the current circumstances.

The diocese is trying to reduce some of its other costs, for example, the Diocesan office is closed, with some staff working from home and other furloughed for the time being. But this will only save a very small percentage of our regular costs. Unfortunately, the Church in Wales is not a wealthy church as most of its assets were taken from it when we were disestablished 100 years ago this month, so these costs still have to be met somehow.

The churches that will best survive this difficult time are those where a significant proportion of the congregation give by Gift Direct or otherwise recognise the importance of continuing their regular giving, even though we are not actually in church to put an envelope on the plate.

The real question for each of us is Why do I give to the church? If we think, Why should I give when there are no church services to attend? that suggests we give to the church in return for what we get, but even then the church is still doing things for you now, as outlined above. You may think, I give to support the church in doing its work, in which case, again, hopefully its clear the church is still hard at work doing its job of reaching out to those in the wider community. Or maybe we give as an act of thanksgiving to God, as an expression of our appreciation for all that God is to us and does for us – and that of course remains solid and unchanged, even in such difficult times.

The problem for many of us may simply be a practical one – How can I give when I can’t go out of the house and the building isn’t open? To help with this the Church in Wales has established a new online payment method for people to make Gift Aid donations to the Church. This is the most efficient and effective way that people can help their local church during these difficult times. Anyone with internet access can simply type the following into Google (or whatever search engine you use) and find the details of how the scheme works: https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/gift-direct/  or you can go directly to https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/gift-direct/start-giving-your-parish/  to set up a payment.

Supporting your churches in this way will help to ensure you still have a church to go back to when this is all over!

Other people are suffering financially too!

You might like to consider applying the same logic to other things you regularly support too. If, for example, you regularly visit Powis Castle or ride on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway you might like to consider helping them by donating the money you would normally spend on your day out there if you had been able to go. This will help these charities to survive. You could also consider applying the same approach to local businesses. If, for example, you like to visit your local pub now and again, there is more likely to still be a pub for you to visit if you consider giving them the money you would have spent this weekend if you’d been able to go. If enough people do that it may be enough to help keep them afloat.

More resources for Young People

Tim Feak, our Diocesan under-25s Officer, has been putting lots of resources for young people on our diocesan website: https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/coronavirus/resources-for-young-people/

The Resources are under the following headings;

School Work

Things to do at home

Worship and Prayer

Mothering Sunday

Mental Health and Well Being.

Tim says, “If you can’t find what you are looking for in any of this then please do contact me.  I have a great deal of access to a great many resources.  I would love to help support you.  Please let me know how.”

Tim can be reach via:

Tel : 01745 532595 or 07918 729 461

Email : timfeak@churchinwales.org.uk

New Curate for the MA Area

It’s good to be able to finish on a positive note and we will now be having not one but two Curates in the MA this year. Apart from our own Jim Thompson, church warden and worship leader in Penrhos, who is being ordained to further his already valuable ministry amongst us, another newly ordained Deacon, Rev’d Toby Jones, will be coming to Pool MA. Toby, who is currently completing his training on site at St Padarn’s in Cardiff, is an Australian by birth but has been in the UK for the last  14 years.  His home church is Manafon in the Caereinion MA.

Church in Wales Coronavirus Guidance

All services have been cancelled until further notice and the latest Church in Wales detailed guidance regarding Coroanvirus can be found on the following link:  https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/coronavirus/.

Resources for Worshipping at Home

Some resources that can be used to worship at home during this difficult time of restricting social contact and self-isolation are Service of Morning Prayer at Home and Bible Readings and Collects for Sundays.

Forthcoming Mission Area Events:

All future services and events cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Mission Area News

The latest Mission Area Newsletter, MA News Lent 2020.

Mission Area Conference Minutes

The minutes of the Mission Area Conference held on Wednesday 27th November 2019 at Pool Quay:  MAC Meeting Minutes 27.11.2019.