Three months ago with Covid 19 spreading and a lot of uncertainty we set out to ‘decrease our proximity and increase our connectivity.’
We have continued to create and share online worship, teaching, news and connection on Sunday mornings. Many of us have upskilled and connected as communities and leaders through google or zoom.
For many of us connections have been better than ever though for some of us it has been a challenge not to grow our friendships with people in person.
People have been blessed as we re-shaped our marriage course, daily prayer opportunities, Alpha, School of Preaching, youth and now parenting support to online alternatives.
Superb volunteers such as Maggie Beckett (pastoral), Mike Holding (supplies), Mary Bowen (pregnant mums), Jon Salter (healthcare workers), Joe Wilson (finance), Phil Butcher (welcome), Chris Collision (digital support), The Martins and the Homers (Foodbank connection) and John and Clare Marker (Alpha) all stepped into new leadership spaces.
Three months in, as a community we have been home-schooling, working, resting, planning, preparing, learning, investing, responding, feeling and adapting to the current challenge.
It’s time to abide
As we head into July and August our sense is that God is calling us into a season of abiding in Him together. Rather than rushing to implement every aspect of government change immediately, we feel to take our time investing in prayer and relationships.
Jesus says ‘without me, you can do nothing.’ We feel we are being invited into a deeper understanding of this reality.
In order to help us we are entering into a series in the Psalms called ‘Songs for all Seasons’. We want to learn how to process emotions with Jesus and the Psalms are wonderful in teaching us integrity in our prayer life, helping us to grow our emotional health.
This will be followed by a series called ‘Friendship with Jesus’. The content of the teaching will be based around the discourse of Jesus with his friends in ‘the upper room’ and will be outlining basic discipleship pillars; his beautiful, timeless fundamentals of how to live with Him.
In August we will also be offering another week of daily devotions: prayer moments where we gather together for a short reflective, meditative time morning and evening.
During the summer Jonny Chantry will be hosting The Prayer Course on Wednesday evenings. This is a video resource with Pete Greig where he chats informally around different ways of praying. It is such an easy watch! He uses different metaphors, visual aids, stories and struggles from his own life as he explores prayer.
We are also exploring the possibility of very ‘light touch’ evening gatherings. Watch this space.
Community Groups have never been about set, prescriptive meetings but about sharing life and we now have an opportunity to learn to do that creatively. Whether that is one family meeting another on the beach, the ladies going for a late-night swim, chatting with a glass of wine online, experimenting with what works and learning what doesn’t is key to this season.
For Chloe and I, we are beginning three weeks break from Grace Church work. I am having a week alone where I will be following a retreat outline of prayer, worship and reflection inspired by Ruth Haley Barton, a recommended retreat leader.
Our aim going into Autumn
In September we are praying that corporately we would be close to each other and close to the Lord. The future is unknown in regards to a second spike in the South West, the effect on tourism, how education will resume and even the societal fallout from lockdown thus far.
We do know that we want to face the coming season from a place of peace, full of the Spirit and with His voice guiding us. We will call leaders together at this time to explore, create and experiment. When and what that looks like we will work out together. We want to arrive full of faith and strong together.
Thanks for being part of this amazing family that we call Church.
Loads of to you all.