For While We Cannot Meet

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

It Made Me Smile

A park ranger was out checking up around his patch when he spotted God out walking in the beautiful countryside in the sunshine far from anywhere.  So he approached God and asked him ‘what did he think he was doing’ to which God replied ‘I’m working from home’.

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. He also continues to record a service each week in his chapel at Esgobty. You can find this, and a variety of other information and resources for the current time on the Diocesan website here: https://dioceseofstasaph.org.uk/

Winners of the Easter Garden and Tree Competition

For our Easter Competition, we invited people to create a decorated tree or garden representing Easter.  There were categories for: trees made by aged 7 years and under, 8 to 16 and over 16, and gardens by aged 7 years and under, 8 to 16 and over 16.    Entries were submitted by photograph and participants encouraged to display their creations in their front gardens or windows for people to enjoy as they walked past in these difficult times.  Thank you to all who entered, there were some very ingenious, colourful and imaginative ideas.  Congratulations to our winners: Nancy Rogers, Sam and Max Ryder, Cai Griffiths, Freya Williams, Carol and Mandy Williams, and Becky Baldwin.  Each winner received a small prize (including a handmade ceramic cross donated by Angels Unaware Ceramics of County Antrim) and certificate.  We hope the competition was enjoyed by all who took part.  Below are the fantastic entries to our Easter Garden and Tree Competition 2020 and the winners are listed on the Winners poster and some are also pictured below:

A History Walk in Guilsfield

A leaflet with instructions for a short walk around Guilsfield pointing out some of it’s history and beginning at the Church is available to view, print and download at Guilsfield History Walk.

Easter Day

The links for the Easter Day service:

It will be on YouTube from 8pm on Saturday 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 a Mission Area Easter 2020 Service Sheet (including hymns). 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.

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.

See also Easter Day Prayers and Sunday Readings March-May.

See Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter The Song of Love.

How the Virus Stole Easter.

MA Leader Easter Letter Message.

Easter Tree and Garden Competition

Photos of the entries for our Easter Tree and Garden Competition can be found here.

A Poem for Palm Sunday.

See also Prayers at a time of crisis.

The latest government restrictions require that all church buildings are locked, and no access granted, and so with a heavy heart we have locked the main door. This church building has stood at the centre of Guilsfield as a symbol of God’s presence, with us and among us, throughout plagues and pandemics in the past. He will hear our prayers wherever we say them.

While we’re not allowed in church if you would like me to light a candle for you among my icons at the vicarage do get in touch.

 

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.

A Prayer  and Sonnet – The Great Physician for these difficult times.

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.ukis 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.