Covid-19 / Coronavirus Updates

This page will contain summary updates of amendments to services/events during the Covid-19 outbreak

5 April 2020 Rector's Update

Do let me know how you are coping with the restrictions of the Lockdown that we are all facing. I know many are struggling with it (whether through loneliness, the stress of home-working – particularly if combined with home-school, or through the real practical challenges) – although others seem to be taking it entirely in their stride.

Holy Week Resources

As we start Holy Week today, I thought that it might be helpful to share some resources for and your family to make the most of this time.

It has been great seeing some of the work that children have produced from the Wonder of Easter material that I shared a couple of weeks ago (in case you missed it, here it is again: 161_the-wonder-of-easter.zip ).

Here is some material specifically to work through Holy Week when at home as a family:
TatH - Palm Sunday - 5th April.pdf 
TatH - Holy Week activities.pdf 

And here is some material to pray through the rainbow – especially since so many people have been making rainbows to go in the window:
I can pray a rainbow.pdf 

Palm Sunday Video

You may have already spotted this video: https://youtu.be/RqCbvNycUOE, which we shared on the Benefice Facebook page. You might like to watch it with your children to start a conversation about what Palm Sunday means.

Palm Crosses?

Usually, we would give out Palm Crosses on the Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week. Obviously, we are not doing that this year.

But that doesn't mean that we cannot mark Palm Sunday.

So, I have two challenges for you:

  1. Find a branch of any plant or tree (ideally one with leaves – the bigger, the better), not many of us will have access to actual palm branches, so improvise. Place your branch outside your door as a sign of welcoming Jesus as King. (If you are on social media, do share a picture and tag the Benefice page).
  2. Make your own palm cross: Usually our palm crosses are made by our friends in Tanzania, but this year why not make your own? All you need is a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors. Here are instructions on how to do that: Palm Crosses.pdf . Why not help a child in your household to make one? And see how colourful they can be!

Bible Reading Notes

I was asked to repeat some of what I had said in a previous email about resources for Bible Reading – studies have shown that the single most significant factor in people's spiritual growth is their own regular reading of the Bible. And in our present situation that has never been more important.

How to do that if you have never been in the habit of doing so?

  • Find a time and place that works for you (for me, the most important time is first thing in the morning; for others, last thing at night; for you, it could be at lunchtime – I knew one person who used to do that when they went to the loo!)
  • Ask God to speak to you and help you to understand what He is saying through His Word, the Bible
  • Read a portion of the Bible (perhaps start with one of the Gospels)
  • Pray about it and then pray about other things going on in your life

Lots of people find Bible reading notes really helpful. There are lots available. The ones that I always recommend are called "Explore" (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/). You can get those as an app on your phone (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/explore-app). Here are their starter notes (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/explore-time-with-god – we've had copies of this at the back of church to give people).

Songs

I was also asked by a couple of parents to share some of the songs that we sometimes sing in Early Birds and in some of our all-age services, which I thought was a fantastic idea – why not sing some of these with your children? And see how well they (and you!) remember the actions:

Do let me know what else would be helpful to you.

Easter competition

While we are all at home over this Holy Week. We are going to run a competition: See who can make the best Easter scene. You might want to make the cross on a hill or the empty tomb using paper and card, or Lego, or material in your garden – see what your imagination can come up with and send a picture to rev.tim.edwards@gmail.com or share to the Benefice Facebook page. 

The winner will get an Easter egg delivered to their doorstep.

Holy Week Events

As we all know, everything looks different at the moment. So, here are some of the things that are happening this week, even if that is going to look different to normal:

Wishing you, and all whom you love, a happy and healthy Holy Week,

Your Rector, Tim

 

22 March 2020 Rector's Update

Those of you who are on Facebook will be aware that Tim has taken the decision, in the light of direction to London churches, to close both St Katharine's and St Margaret's buildings until further notice. 

21 March 2020 Rector's Update

I hope that you are well and coping with these challenging times – do let me know how you are doing.

I wanted to write to you to update you on some things regarding our response to COVID19 and to share some resources with you.

1         Sunday services

You will be aware, I am sure that as public gatherings are not allowed, public church services are suspended. This true across the nation and in many other countries too. Our church buildings continue to be open every day for prayer. While we may not be gathering all together on the Lord's Day for Sunday services, that does not mean that the Church has shut up shop. Remember, the church is the people of God, and wherever we are, the Church is.

2         Facebook Live

Last Sunday (which feels a lifetime ago), I shared on the benefice Facebook page the first "From the Rector's Study" live-stream. If you missed it, you can see that here: https://www.facebook.com/knockholtandhalsteadchurches/videos/619587745561364/ . If has been great to see people's responses to that. I shall be doing this every Sunday (Lord willing) at 6pm – I do hope that you will join me (and comment to let me know that you are there!)

3         Small groups

Our popular Bible Study and Discussion groups paused last week, but I hope that you will be able to join me online this week. You can find the details in the calendar on the church website. (If you use an online calendar, you can subscribe to that, so you see information on your phone or computer – I know a number of people already do that). 

If you would like to be part of the Tuesday afternoon group (1pm), you can do so online at https://zoom.us/j/658220983?pwd=Yml0M2QyK3c3aG9IVjAzNVIxeTFLdz09, or using the Zoom app use Meeting ID: 658 220 983 and Password: 004493

For the Tuesday evening group (7:30pm), you can do so online at https://zoom.us/j/851724183?pwd=SjFrZDdGNnVrZVpidGN1OTQvV2Jodz09, or using the Zoom app use Meeting ID: 851 724 183 and Password: 019893

If you have any difficulty with those, do please let me know. I have already had a number of meetings by that means, which have been very successful, so I hope that you will be able to join me then.

4         Children's/family resources

With us not gathering as a whole Church family on Sundays (and also with schools being closed), I know lots of dads and mums will be thinking how best to pray and open the Bible with their children. That is a great thing to be doing at any time, but especially when children (as well as grown-ups) will be feeling anxious and so praying and hearing God speak from the Bible becomes even more important.

But I do know that if this is not something that you have done before as a family, then the idea of doing that can feel intimidating. But it really doesn't need to be - it can be really simple. So, I am going to share a range of resources with you over coming days and weeks, which will hopefully help with that.

Here is a great article about how to approach that from the wonderful people at Faith in Kids: https://faithinkids.org/blog/app/archive/2020-03/title/home-church

I have attached a series of five lessons from Luke's Gospel that you could use with your children. (And here's an article about doing so: https://faithinkids.org/blog/app/archive/2020-03/title/using-wonder-of-easter-as-home-church-resource-here-s-how-we-will-help).
161_the-wonder-of-easter.zip 

Why not have a look through and use the first one tomorrow morning as you are all together as a family? (If you like the look of those, there is a book for adults as well as children that goes with them. You can find that here: https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/the-wonder-of-easter).

I would love to hear how you get on with that.

5         Prayer resources

For lots of us this is a time when we are really discovering the importance of prayer and reading the Bible for ourselves. When we are faced with a situation that is bigger than us and that many of us find frightening, prayer is the only rational response. (The fact that so of us are having to work from home, and so don't have a long commute, also makes this the perfect time to develop that really important habit).

How to do that if you have never been in the habit of doing so?

  • Find a time and place that works for you (for me, the most important time is first thing in the morning; for others, last thing at night; for you, it could be at lunchtime – I knew one person who used to do that when they went to the loo!)
  • Ask God to speak to you and help you to understand what He is saying through His Word, the Bible
  • Read a portion of the Bible (perhaps start with one of the Gospels)
  • Pray about it and then pray about other things going on in your life

Lots of people find Bible reading notes really helpful. There are lots available. The ones that I always recommend are called "Explore" (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/). You can get those as an app on your phone (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/explore-app). Here are their starter notes (https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/daily-bible-reading/explore/explore-time-with-god – we've had copies of this at the back of church to give people).

For praying, I have also often recommended the PrayerMate app (and not just because it is produced by my former flatmate!), which you can download on your smartphone (https://www.prayermate.net/).

Let me know how you get on with that.

6         Call to prayer

I do hope that you been joining me in setting a reminder in your diary to stop at 12noon and pray about the Coronavirus outbreak.

If you are not sure how to pray, here are some excellent pointers: https://christianconcern.com/resource/prayer-guide-for-coronavirus/ and https://www.sim.co.uk/sites/default/files/content/%23PraytoEndCOVID19%20Prayer%20Points.pdf (these are also available in the PrayerMate app).

Nationally, the Archbishops and other church leaders have called for people to pray tomorrow, Sunday, 22 March and as a sign of that to place a lighted candle in a window at 7pm as a sign of hope.

Will you do that?

7         Help

It has been great to see some many people offering to help in so many different (and creative ways).

The church is working with our local parish councils/residents association and other groups to make sure that help gets to those who need it most.

A couple of days ago, I shared a flyer letting you know about help available in Halstead.

Attached to this are flyers about help in Knockholt:
Knockholt Help leaflet 1 (1).docx 
And one about Badgers Mount:
Coronavirus doc.docx 

There are designated email addresses to offer and request help:

One practical way that you can help is to support the Food Bank.

Rather than panic-buying things that you don't urgently need, why not get an extra couple of tins of food to give to the Food Bank?

There are collection boxes in both our church buildings and at the Rectory.

It has been great to see people stepping up to help in this way already, but the number of people who need that support is only going to increase.

(And, if you are worried that you might need help, please speak to me – in absolute confidence).

8         Phone (what can I pray?)

I know many of you are staying in touch with elderly or vulnerable neighbours and relatives. Seeing that spontaneous response of neighbourliness has been deeply encouraging. That human contact, over the phone (or by video-chat if you can manage) is so important for people who are having to self-isolate. When you check on people, do remember to ask what you can best pray for them – it is such a powerful way that we can help one another.

If you would like prayer for anything, in confidence, contact our prayer team on knockholtandhalstead.prayerteam@gmail.com

9         A reminder

In closing, please do remember to follow the Government's advice about social distancing etcetera. 
For most of us, that will feel like an inconvenience, but for others it will be quite simply life-saving. It has been great to see so many people doing so and looking after one another in such a simple way.

At the same time, I am aware that for many of us this feels remote, almost unreal (I know that is the case for some of you with whom I have spoken in the last few days). I was hearing earlier about a confirmed case in our villages – this is not remote, it is real, and we do need to look after one another. 

Praying that you may know God's blessing at this time,

Tim

18 March 2020 Rector's Update

Church Activities

At the time of going to press, the latest guidance from the Archbishops, in line with government advice, is that all public gatherings for worship should be suspended for the time being. We are looking at various alternatives, for example, every Sunday evening at 6pm, there will be a Facebook live-cast “From the Rector’s Study”. I do hope that you will be able to tune in. (We are investigating how to make this available to those in our community who are not internet-users)

At difficult and stressful times like this – the likes of which few of us will ever have experienced – with the challenges for mental health, we need time for prayer and reflection even more than ever. For that reason, both of our church buildings will continue to be open for prayer every day.

The Archbishops have issued a national call for prayer this weekend. Will you join with others across the nation in praying for health workers, government, and others and as a sign of that place a lighted candle in your window at 7pm on Sunday, 22 March? I have also set a reminder on my phone to stop and pray every day at 12noon. Will you join me and do the same?

We are pleased to be partnering with the parish council and others in stepping up to help our neighbours.

God bless, Tim (Rector)

Rev. Tim Edwards - 01959 532 133

Practical Help

Halstead Parish Council, Halstead Green Belt Future Group, and St Margaret's Church are joining forces to put into place help for all residents of Halstead during this coronavirus crisis. We're setting up a corona-buddies scheme that hopes to match those willing to help with those who require assistance in a safe and efficient manner.

You will find attached information about what is being put in place in Halstead parish - similar arrangements are also being put in place in Knockholt and Badgers Mount, about which I shall be messaging you in due course.

P.S. Although we are coordinating with other bodies, be assured that we have not shared your contact details with them - nor would we do so without your consent.

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14 March 2020- Rector's Update

Church is still happening as normal. While certain things will not be happening as usual, the expert advice is not for churches etcetera to suspend meeting at this time. Indeed, meeting together for encouragement and support for many of us is even more necessary. So, tomorrow there will be our regular 8am BCP Holy Communion and 9am Early Birds services at St Katharine's and our regular 10:30am Sung Communion service at St Margaret's. I hope to see many of you there. Our midweek Bible study group (Tuesday 1pm/7:30pm @ the Rectory) will also be going ahead as normal.

  1. Please do not come to church, however, if you should be self-isolating to protect yourself and – just as importantly – others. This is one of the key ways that we can demonstrate effect love for our neighbours: by not risking passing on the virus to them. NHS advice can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ - the key point is that if you have a high temperature or a new continuous cough, you should stay at home for 7 days. Please also consider staying at home if you are especially vulnerable (for example, because your immune system is weakened).
  2. Because we are aware that an increasing number of people will have to avoid gatherings like church, we are working on improving ways that people can connect online. Let me highlight two things for now (but watch this space for more):
    1. Sermons will continue to be recorded and available online at https://soundcloud.com/timothy-edwards-9
    2. Starting 6pm tomorrow (Sunday, 15 March) I will be doing a weekly Facebook live-cast ("From the Rector's Study"), where people can hear from God's Word from their own homes
  3. Wash your hands. By now, most of us should have absorbed this message. Attached is a guide giving a helpful reminder of how to do that most effectively. 
  4. How will our church services look different? For the time being, we will no long be sharing the Peace, nor will we be sharing the wine at Holy Communion (we will still be sharing the bread, but if you would rather only come forward to receive a blessing, that is fine). At Communion, we will not be kneeling at the rail, but standing to receive. During our service, we will not be taking a collection (there will be a plate at the door – please also consider giving by a regular standing order and gift-aiding (both churches need regular giving to be able to continue providing support to our communities)).
  5. After the service, we will not be providing refreshments. You may want to bring your own tea/coffee etcetera with you.
  6. On Mothering Sunday, we would normally give flowers to all the women in the church family as a way of honouring them (we do something equivalent for the men on Father's Day). This year we shall not be doing that. That does not, of course, indicate any reduction in how much we value them. I trust that, like me, you will still be doing something to honour your own mothers on that day.
  7. Our popular 'Men, Curry, Beer, Chat' will not now be happening on Sunday, 29 March.
  8. Although we are not providing refreshments, there will be a Bring-Your-Own Lunch after the United Songs of Praise Service at St Margaret's on Sunday, 29 March. (This will, of course, be dependent on changes in the developing situation and will be contingent on the latest official guidance).
  9. Our Good Friday Children's Holiday Club will not be happening this year. Other services over the Easter weekend are, at the moment, expected to go ahead as planned (Good Friday Service of Readings and Reflection @ St Margaret's, 3pm; Easter Day All-Age Communion @ St Katharine's, 9am & St Margaret's, 10:30am).
  10. I am talking with our Parish Councils and others about how we can most effectively care for the vulnerable in our parishes. We are looking at potentially having people who can act as 'corona-buddies' to help fetch shopping or medicines. If you would like to help as part of that, please get in touch. More importantly, if you (or someone you know of) could do with assistance, please get in touch.
  11. Many people have been panic buying over recent days. Please think of those in greatest need and, if you are able, support the Food Bank. Items most needed at the moment include: long life fruit juice, UHT milk, tinned spaghetti, large tins of carrots, chocolate, peanut butter, egg noodles, squash, tomato ketchup, tinned rice pudding, tinned custard, anti-bacterial spray, feminine hygiene products, shaving foam gel, scourers, washing powder/capsules/liquid, 4 pack toilet rolls. Collection boxes can be found in both of our church buildings and at the Rectory.
  12. Communication is, of course, key. Please do like and follow our Facebook page for updates. You can also expect to get emails like this from me more often than normal.
  13. Lastly, pray! I shall be setting an alarm on my phone to remind me to stop at 12 noon and pray. Will you join me?