STEWARDS OF THE GOSPEL AND PARISH PARTNERSHIP
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When I wrote to you on 6th April, I informed you that the parish partnership project was being put “on hold” until at least the end of May 2020 due to the unprecedented situation that we are experiencing. In order to keep you informed and as a matter of courtesy, I am now writing with a further update as we approach the end of May. I know that many of you have made extraordinary efforts to hold your communities together during the lockdown. Your support for your neighbours has been amazing and I know that you will all continue to provide each other with prayers and practical support.
Although the national lockdown is very gradually being eased the position with regard to our churches and our parish lives is not yet clear. What we do know is that according to the government’s three step modifications to the lockdown rules, places of worship may re-open on 4th July 2020 if our recovery is still going well and if the rate of infections continues to decline. We think that good progress is being made towards this target date. We also know that any re-opening of our churches will not be unrestricted. Social distancing and hygiene rules will demand that we make considerable changes to our normal church attendance patterns and practices. At the time of writing we do not know what these will be but we can make some educated guesses. We also know that there are ongoing conversations between our archbishops and our government about how re-opening will happen but we do not yet know when we will be sure about their outcome. Therefore, although things seem to be improving, we continue to live in uncertain times.
In that context Bishop Alan and I have decided that we will continue to keep the parish partnership project on hold for the time being. It remains right and proper that our focus now must be on caring and praying for one another and helping each other through the current crisis. In a fairly short while, we hope and pray that our focus can shift to implementing the re-opening of our churches in accordance with the guidelines that will be presented to us. When we receive the guidelines, we anticipate that we will all need to take great care to put them into practice. Just as so many priests and parishioners have been making a marvellous communal effort to keep their parishes going up to now it is going to take another similar effort to support one another in this next phase.
I would like to reassure you that the parish partnership project is only “on hold”. It remains our medium and long term plan and in due course it will become a reality. All of the hard work we have done together will come to fruition. Despite the hardships and privations caused by the COVID crisis it does provide us with moments of quiet and possibilities for reflection. We have a little temporary breathing space amongst all the confusion. In that breathing space we can all work together to make the re-opening of our churches as good as it can be, and to focus on the needs of our local communities. Every challenge set before us is an opportunity to evangelise and I am sure that we will rise to that challenge.
Unlike my letter of 6th April I am not going to set a limit on how long things will now be “on hold”, but rather I will commit to writing to you again after we have considered the new guidelines and in the context that they present for us.
Steven Webb (Director of Development)”
Our Steward of the Gospel is Mrs Marcella Murphy.
You can contact her on 01376 801775.
The Stewards of the Gospel throughout the diocese have been given key tasks:
• To examine their own parish, to find out what is going on and to pave the way for a plan for better evangelisation in and by the parish.
• To begin to discern “which parish belongs to which” when it comes to working together in future.
• To be a source of creative inspiration, looking for new ways to evangelise.
• To be the voice of the laity when it comes to discerning the principles and priorities on which future plans will be based.
• To be the voice of the laity when it comes to implementing the agreed principles in the particular local situation of their own parishes.
Click to see - Stewards of the Gospel training days
STEWARDS OF THE GOSPEL PRAYER
Merciful Father, author of creation,