Diocese of Winchester 

Covid-19 news, prayers and intercessions






Dear Friends,


Planning for easing of restrictions 


The House of Bishops COV19-Recovery Group is continuing to work on a suite of resources to help plan for Government restrictions relating to the pandemic being eased. The Group has already produced two papers, one on opening church buildings to professional contractors and another focused on providing access for construction work .

 
The Government is expected to produce definitive guidance on the easing of restrictions in due course, but the Recovery Group is continuing to work in advance on the planning process. It is providing Dioceses with further advice papers, and a number of these will be published on the Church of England website next week. If you have queries in the meantime, please contact your Archdeacon.

 


Postponement of General Synod Elections


The Church of England has also provided the following update regarding General Synod:

 
The Privy Council met on 20 May 2020 when an Order was made under section 84 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to postpone to 31 July 2021 the date on which the Convocations of Canterbury and York will automatically stand dissolved if they are not dissolved sooner than that in accordance with Her Majesty’s directions.  The General Synod is automatically dissolved at the same time as the Convocations and the dissolution of the Synod is therefore also postponed.  It is the dissolution of these bodies that triggers fresh elections.

 

Elections to the General Synod that were due to be held this autumn will now take place in the autumn of 2021. It is expected that these will be undertaken using the online election process, and the allocation of seats for dioceses shall remain as agreed at the February 2020 Group of Sessions. The inaugural session will take place in November 2021.

 

This means that the term of office of current elected members of the Convocations of Canterbury and York and of the House of Laity is extended until July 2021.

 

Any casual vacancies that arise before 13 July 2020 must now be filled.  Directions as to the time within which this must be done will be issued as soon as possible. It is important that each diocese is fully represented at the groups of sessions that are due to be held in November 2020 and February and July 2021.

 

With our prayers for you all,   

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 

May 22nd Update




May 19th Update



Dear Friends,

 

Companion Link Update


We are continuing to sustain our contacts with our Companion Link provinces in Africa, Asia and Latin America and have had a particular request for prayer for Burundi during its upcoming General Election on 20th May. Please pray that there will be sustainable and lasting peace in the country. There are currently no reported cases of Coivd-19 in Burundi - please pray that the population remains unaffected by the virus.

 

Archbishop Stephen has given an update on the situation in Myanmar, which is largely locked down due to Covid-19. Like here, there is no public worship in churches and clergy are offering online services where possible in areas with internet connection. At a provincial level, the Church is actively involved in supporting the Ministry of Health and Sport through the COVID-19 volunteers team, regionally and nationally.

 

In Paletwa, in the west of the country, intense fighting between government troops and an ethnic armed group has created large displacement of people. There are real concerns about a very limited food supply to the area due to roads being cut off during fighting. Please pray for the more than 1,000 Anglican members and other Christians as well as non-Christians who are taking refuge in the Diocesan compound and nearby places in Paletwa.

 


Service Register Advice


A number of questions have been asked about recording service attendances during this period when church buildings have been closed and online services held. The Archdeacons have put together the following guidance, which we hope proves helpful.


Wherever possible we would encourage the following:

 

  • Make an entry into each church service register which includes the date the church was closed due to Covid-19 and the date the church is reopened (this will be a date when worship in churches is once more permitted and begins in your church).
  • Add that an appendix has been added recording the service ‘attendances’ during the period of closure.
  • This appendix should not be written in the actual Register (as this is only a Register of Services for the building) and should include as much accurate information that you can provide of the types of services you held (and the medium you used: e.g. Zoom; Facebook Live, etc), the date of each service, and the number of ‘attendances’.
  • Where you have a multi-church benefice and online services have been ‘centralised’ the same information can be put as an appendix in each church’s register, making this clear.

 

 

We recognise that you may not be able to produce the numbers from all the services you have now held and that the numbers only provide limited information with some overcounting (e.g. when people watch for a very brief time or you watch to review the service) and undercounting (e.g. when more than one person is watching on one device) but we believe this information will be both potentially useful for future planning in many parishes and for telling something of the public story of how many people are engaging in worship (and no doubt helpful to research in some form and historians at a later date). You may, of course, want to add extra notes of clarification or detail in this appendix.


We understand that it would have been more helpful to have this advice much earlier on in the current situation and trust you will accept that our focus, as yours, has been on more urgent matters.

 

With our prayers for you all,   

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain   

May 15th Update


Dear Friends, 

 
Next week is Mental Health Awareness week, and as we work to support the wellbeing of our communities at this difficult time, it is important that we all remember that mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time. While you have been working so hard to minister to the needs of others, you must also take time to care for your own wellbeing.

 
The St Luke’s Clergy Wellbeing Programme has offered some useful advice on how to attend to your own wellbeing at a time when we have all had to adapt to new rhythms of life and find new ways to cope with the stresses of our work. As part of the Clergy Wellbeing Programme, Peter Wells has shared his insight on living long-term with a pandemic:

 

However resilient I consider myself to be, there is always the possibility, often subtly felt and cumulative, that this ‘thing’ just gets too much to handle. It’s too much to think about, too much to live with, just too much.  And this is not just for a couple of months, this is a marathon, and I’ve not been in training for such a marathon.  This virus attacks health, my health, however old I might be, whoever I am.   

 

As a human being I require, to a greater or lesser extent, social interaction, and now, because I am spending more time with those I usually live with, I might have too much or, because I am more on my own, too little!!   

 

Why does crisis fatigue occur?

  • I am not in control and I feel confused, baffled and vulnerable a lot of the time
  • The cumulative effect of endless news updates on TV and radio, and a bombardment of comments on social media, texts, emails and phone calls
  • A lot of uncertainty as to exactly what is going on, what is required by me, what can I do, how do I help others
  • There is no space left to think of anything else, or manage anything else, or be interested in anything else
  • How can I not feel under siege, how can I not feel fatigue!

 

What to look out for

  • I can become distracted or disinterested in other aspects of life
  • Because I don’t know what to do or how to respond, I get fearful and express it in anger or go silent.  I sulk, I don’t want to talk to anyone
  • I might not notice that I’m less interested in eating because I am anxious, or I am over- eating because I’m trying to soothe myself
  • My sleep pattern becomes disturbed
  • If I’m at home so much, either alone or with others, I get bored, I don’t know how to express my frustration - except towards others or the cat!
  • I find myself ruminating about what might or might not happen to me, to others, to the world

 

What can I do?

ACCEPT that this crisis is going to last some time and prepare myself.

A:  acknowledge that I am not in control and I need to find ways of coping

C:  compromise on what I would like to do and work out what I can do

C:  know that there will be consequences that are out of my control

E:  show empathy to others because this shows that I and they are not alone

P:  be passionate about caring for myself and those around me

T:  trust in myself that I am doing all I can

 


Create a routine

  • Prioritise what needs to be done each day
  • Plan out my day to give it a structure
  • Pace myself so that I don’t do everything at once
  • Permission to know I can only do so much, and seeking help and support is not weakness


Take a break

  • We all need time off from the news and worries.
  • Give myself ‘news’ breaks - I can catch up with the news later
  • Create distractions that I enjoy, such as books, games, tv, radio, films, online games
  • Make sure that I video-link with others so that I can see faces, not just words in a text or voices on the phone
  • Include some meditation, mindfulness, prayer
  • Create an exercise programme that I enjoy, even if simply walking up and downstairs and some stretches or online yoga sessions
  • Set meal and sleep times

 

And remember …

  • I, and those I am in contact with, are going to have days of sadness and frustration 
  • I need to be honest about how I feel and not hide or deny it
  • I know others will be feeling the same
  • I need to be kind to myself, and those around me. 

 

With our prayers for you all,   

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain  


May 12th Update

Dear Friends,

 


Government recovery strategy announcement


Yesterday, the Government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy, which followed the Prime Minister’s speech to the nation on Sunday night. Step Three of the published roadmap, which outlines the possible lifting of restrictions currently in place, talks of an ambition to, “open at least some of the remaining business and premises that have been required to close, including… public places (such as places of worship).”

 
Although the earliest date this step would be implemented is given as 4 July, we can pray this is now the beginning of the journey towards the opening of our church buildings later in the year. Even when churches can be reopened they, like other buildings open to the public, will still need to meet the necessary health guidelines and it is envisaged by the Government that not everywhere will properly be able to facilitate social distancing. Equally, it is clear that the Government roadmap’s timescales are at this stage provisional and conditional on ongoing scrutiny of the latest scientific data in the fight against the virus. We will, nevertheless, continue to be in touch with parishes to support them ahead of the potential lifting of restrictions, so that they can be fully prepared.

 


Live-streaming of services


As you know, last week the House of Bishops had already updated its advice in relation to the use of churches for recording and live-streaming of services, while church buildings remain closed.  We have since written to all incumbent and licensed clergy to update the guidance in this diocese, allowing parish priests to make arrangements for the use of buildings by a single minister.  We will continue to keep this guidance under review, and advise parishes as soon as possible if, for example, advice on funerals and weddings is changed.

 

 

People and finance

 

We previously reported that a significant number of diocesan office staff are on furlough, making an important contribution to reducing expenditure during this period of intense financial pressure.  With the agreement of the Bishop’s Council and DBF Trustees, we have also asked our stipendiary training curates to consider taking furlough for a period of up to two months, further contributing to cost-savings in the short term.  There are a number of key factors which have been considered in taking this step:

  • Although clergy have duties as office holders, the training curate is the role which most clearly involves assisting with the discharge of their training incumbent’s duties
  • Curates who are in training make a valuable contribution to the life of the benefices. Other clergy and lay-ministers, with whom curates serve, will continue to minister in their absence.
  • Furlough is taken voluntarily – this is something we have invited individuals to do, and not all have accepted, depending upon the circumstances of the individual and the benefice
  • A person on furlough is not allowed to continue working or take other employment, however they are allowed to undertake training and study.  Curates on furlough will be able to work on their formational study and IME2 portfolios
  • Although the government will pay 80% of their stipend, the DBF will top up the remaining 20%, so there will be no loss of income to individuals
  • The cost saving is a short-term one, but the wider impact is a contribution to the future security and sustainability of our mission and ministry across the diocese.

 

In total, 14 curates have agreed to take furlough for varying periods between now and the end of June.  We recognise that stepping away from ministry at a key time for the Church and in their vocational training is a challenge and a sacrifice, and we are tremendously grateful to them for that contribution. Taking these steps, however, is essential with the DBF predicting a large income shortfall during the COVID period of social distancing and isolation.

In this context, it is worth noting that our diocese is not benefiting from the additional financial support announced by the National Church – this will be targeted at those dioceses most in need. The immediate steps we have taken to secure our finances have previously been outlined, but we may yet need to make further significant reductions in expenditure to address the long-term deficit from CMF shortfalls. We had already predicted a 10% shortfall (similar to 2019) before the COVID outbreak. We are also highly conscious that, on average, parishes gain 20% of their income from hall lettings and commercial activity, all of which have stopped. Meanwhile, 8% of diocesan income is derived from fees and a significant amount of this has ceased.

 


The figures are undeniably sobering. Our parishes and people, like the rest of the country, remain under huge pressures, social and economic – yet they continue to provide inspirational service, and sacrifice, for which we are enormously grateful. Meanwhile, although the Government’s roadmap cannot answer all of our inevitable questions, it at least now allows us to plan together for a more hopeful future.

 

With our prayers for you all,   

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain  


May 7th update

Dear Friends,
This week the House of Bishops agreed a phased approach to revising access to church buildings. It was also agreed that the timing of when changes are implemented would be made by individual Diocesan Bishops, depending on their local situation. The Bishop’s Staff Team are reviewing this decision and we will be issuing revised guidance to parishes in the Diocese next week, following the latest information expected from the Prime Minister on Sunday.
 
Tomorrow parishes across the Diocese will celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day which brought peace to Europe. We will remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought for peace and we will pray for all nations still devastated by war, for all refugees and displaced people, that they might come to know peace, security, and freedom. Although we are not able to gather in person, we will be able to mark this special anniversary together, united in hope. The Cathedral will be offering a VE Day act of worship on Friday through the Cathedral website , which will include reflections, prayers and a special service for the day.
 
We know that the advice limiting the way in which funerals can be conducted has been particularly difficult for many offering pastoral care to the bereaved. Canon Ed Pruen, from Alton Deanery, has offered the following reflection on funerals during a time of lockdown:
 
The Christian answer to suffering and grief is rarely an explanation but a presence. As any parish priest will know, ministry is more about being present with those in our care, than anything we say or do. In normal times, the phone rings and the Funeral Director gives us the contact details we need. We then arrange to visit the family, drink a cup of tea together, and hear the story of the life that has been lived and lost. As we listen, it is our presence, our body language and our empathy that builds a relationship of trust in preparation for the funeral.
 
In these times of severe limitations in the way we care for the bereaved, many of us have struggled to show the compassion we would normally offer. The Funeral Director phones, we then phone the next of kin who may either live round the corner, or perhaps hundreds of miles away, locked down and inaccessible. We talk on the phone, we email, we plan the simple service for the Crematorium. It may be that the deceased has died of the virus – either way, the death seems untimely and there are moments of deep grief at the end of the phone line.
 
The day comes for the funeral, and we stand well apart from the crematorium staff. Just two members of the family arrive – perhaps people we have not met or spoken to – the journey too much for the next of kin. We say hello, but cannot touch their hands. Our presence seems distant, almost cold. It seems inappropriate to stand behind the lectern, and so we step closer to the family, but hold back. We then find within ourselves a gentleness and a sensitivity we did not know we had as we genuinely grieve with this tiny congregation. There are moments of silence – and as we all know, it is often hard to improve on silence – but the music helps, although we do not sing. We are told the curtains must close – no one must touch the coffin. We close them at the very last moment. And all the time, we have been present, slightly apart, but there. We speak of memorial services to come, and we wonder whether the moment will have passed by then. Afterwards we feel more exhausted than a funeral with a congregation of 200 people. Why is this? Perhaps because we gave more of ourselves, we were vulnerable, we were more present than we have ever been. The compassion of Christ was truly close.
 
With our prayers for you all,  
 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie 

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:  
Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive   
Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester  
Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth  
Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester  
Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain


May 1st Update


Dear Friends,
 

In this update, we thought it would be helpful to explain how finances are being impacted during the COVID-19 lockdown and how we imagine that continued social isolation will impact us over the next few years.  Finances across the Church of England are precarious, although not all areas of our work will be impacted in the same way.  Parishes are reporting a mixed view – some rely heavily on income generation from activities, others have a stable giving community with no sign of significant reduction.
 

We hugely appreciate the efforts of every one of our parishes at present. We are additionally grateful that many are ensuring that the Common Mission Fund (CMF) continues to be paid, given how uncertain some parish finances are, especially those reliant on income from activities outside of community giving.
 

As was presented at Diocesan Synod in March, this June we are running an online programme - Generous June: Understanding God’s Generosity Together – a new initiative that seeks to engage churches, communities, and individuals with generosity throughout the month. We have naturally revisited our plans in the wake of the pandemic, but believe that it remains important to focus on giving, in order for the Church to respond positively at this time when there is so much need, particularly amongst the disadvantaged. 
 

Our aim through Generous June will be to join across our many varied cultures, traditions, and contexts, to share in developing our understanding of God’s generosity, and how it can influence all aspects of our day to day lives.  A range of resources for engagement have been developed through a partnership between the Diocese of Sheffield and the Diocese of Winchester.  A suite of resources will be available for engagement on different levels, including individual daily reflections.
 

Like parishes, the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) is also facing financial difficulty.  Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak we had already started to plan and build in savings to take account of the sizeable CMF shortfall in 2019, and what, before events of recent weeks, was already being projected as an even larger shortfall in 2020. This was inevitably going to lead to further cost savings across the Diocese, and the COVID-19 lockdown has now compounded the problem.  The National Church is requesting that dioceses continue to pay their central apportionment as the Archbishops’ Council has limited reserves.
 

Some parishes will inevitably need to reduce their CMF as they run out or run low on income. We have already seen the impact of this on our own accounts. The overall value of our investments has fallen by 11.1% and we anticipate reduced income from these sources for some time to come.  We anticipate that, to the end of the year, the combination of reduced CMF, reduced investment income and the almost complete cessation of fees for weddings will reduce our overall income to between 75% and 50% of what we had budgeted.  CMF contributions account for roughly 80% of DBF income, which corresponds to the roughly 80% of DBF expenditure for clergy stipends, pensions, training, and housing.
 

The National Church is offering limited financial support to us, but we have managed to secure a loan facility from the DBF’s Bank to cover this year’s shortfall.  The loan will help with short-term cashflow for a year.  By taking some steps now, the DBF can secure the long-term viability of the Diocese.  This includes a programme of furloughing for diocesan staff, pay cuts and gifts back for senior members of the diocesan team, part-time adjustments for some workers, postponing cost of living rises and reducing expenditure on several work areas.  Please pray for the DBF which will continue to meet more regularly throughout this period, to ensure that appropriate action is taken at the right time. 
 

In summary: we appreciate that many parishes are struggling during this period and value what all parishes are doing collectively to support our common mission.  We will continue to ensure that the central finances are carefully managed to protect our long-term future.  There will be difficult decisions to take in the months to come but we will ensure these are clearly communicated.
 

With our prayers for you all,  
 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie 

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:  
Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive   
Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester  
Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth  
Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester  
Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain  





 

Notes
Detailed advice and guidance to churches on coronavirus is available on the Church of England website.