Diocese of Winchester 

Covid-19 news, prayers and intercessions






Monday 30th March


Dear Friends,

 

With the commencement of Passiontide yesterday, we have moved into the most important fortnight of the Church’s year. We were moved over the weekend by the number of creative ways in which people across our Diocese came together as one Church to share services online and minister to each other remotely. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make all of this possible. Over 1500 people joined Bishop Tim for his Passion Sunday worship online, and we will share Palm Sunday worship next weekend so that those without access to services from their parish are able to join other members of our Diocesan community in prayer.

 

Over the weekend we have refreshed the home page of the Diocesan website - www.winchester.anglican.org- to make it easier to find resources to support you during the current situation. This includes guidance for churches and schools, worship resources and communications support. Thank you to Jess Littlewood, our Internal and Digital Communications Manager, for her work on the website. Do contact Jess (communications@winchester.anglican.org) if you need support with your digital channels in the coming weeks and months.

 

We have had good local media coverage about the local Church’s response and are still looking for good news stories about ways in which people across the Diocese are responding to the crisis. Please let the Diocesan media team know about what you have planned by emailing dioceseofwinchester@luther.co.uk.

 

Finally, the Archbishops’ Council Cathedral and Church Buildings Division has published some helpful guidance on securing and caring for your church buildings during the Covid-19 pandemic, which they intend to keep updated. It is available to download here and contains lots of helpful advice.

 

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


Sunday 29th March


Dear Friends,

 

This Sunday, many of you will be holding virtual services for your parish communities. Thank you for continuing to think of creative ways to continue your ministry at this time.

 

In addition, or for those parishes without access to their own virtual services, Bishop Tim and his wife Sally have recorded a communion service, which can be viewed on our Diocesan YouTube channel this morning. Please do share the link so that we can still join together as one Diocese in prayer even though we cannot see each other in person.

 

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



28th March Update



Dear Friends,

 

Many of you have already undertaken significant work to support the national and local response to Covid19. Thank you for all that you are doing. To help you with this, the Rev Canon Nick Ralph, the Diocesan Director of Social Enterprise and Engagement, has put together some suggestions for how churches can help:

 

The community response to Covid19 is managed in each area by a Local Resilience Forum (this looks after what we used to call civil emergency planning). It works closely with local authorities, health and the voluntary community and faith sectors. Significant work is being done by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF to connect, coordinate and collaborate over the current response, including linking in to the national NHS volunteers programme (over 500,000 people have now come forward).

 

It is clear that movement will be restricted for some time to come except for those caring for vulnerable or isolated people. There are a huge number of people over 70 who are meant to be ‘shielding’ to avoid putting themselves at risk who will need support.

 

Churches can help in four main ways:

 

  1. They can keep in touch with the people they already know in their congregations who are at risk and who might be isolating. Check on them first and make sure that they have everything they need. This will help to reduce pressures on other services
  2. Keep in touch with people by phone. People in pastoral care groups, including those over 70 can still call people from their homes and keep in touch to reduce isolation and loneliness. Many people can go for days without talking to another human being and this contact will be an even more vital lifeline in the days to come.
  3. Find out if people need help with shopping or prescriptions because they cannot get out themselves. Shopping for friends, family and neighbours is fine for anyone but for those you don’t know or on behalf of an organisation, a DBS check is still a legal requirement and will remain so (this is due to the financial transaction involved and the vulnerability of those in need of support). An alternative approach that does not require a DBS check is to make the food collected for someone a donation to them This way no transaction is involved, and it can be done by anyone.
  4. When needs of the immediate congregation have been met, encourage people to meet the needs in the parish if there are church members who are not self-isolating and vulnerable. They can volunteer via NHS to be salt and yeast in their local communities.


In the current climate, it is important that churches do not try to set up whole new systems of their own but use those that already exist. Where you can, support the existing foodbank. Offer to help with collection or distribution. The response in each area is co-ordinated by different groups.

 

In Southampton, more information can be found here: www.solinked.org.uk

 

In Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, the response is being co-ordinated by the community action network: www.bournemouthcvs.org.uk

 

In Hampshire, a call centre and hub is due to go live around Tuesday 31st March but further details should be posted on the Hampshire County Council website: www.hants.gov.uk and the CommunityFirst Network: www.cfirst.org.uk

 

The Good Neighbours Network , which is hosted by the Dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth continues to support people as well and further details of local groups can be found here: wwwgoodneighbours.org.uk.

 

Thank you for your work to bring God’s love to all those in our local communities.

 


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

27th March update


Dear Friends,

 


As we approach the coming weekend, we are once again facing a Sunday without being able to physically join our local communities. Whilst we know that the Church is not just a series of (now closed) buildings, it is difficult to not be able to pray and participate in services in one place.

 

However, we have been heartened by the work being done by so many of you to create ways of enabling Christian communities to meet online – whether through celebrating services on Zoom, holding pastoral Skype calls or creating social media prayer resources. Thank you for helping your communities to find ways of encountering God’s love at this most difficult of times.

 

Today, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have written to all clergy to offer some suggestions for ways in which we can continue to minister to our communities (paying attention to those with access to the internet, as well as those who do not) at the present time. You can read the letter here and we hope you will find it useful.

 

Ahead of this weekend, Bishop Tim and his wife Sally have recorded a communion service, which you will be able to view on our Diocesan YouTube channel from Sunday morning. Please do share the link so that we can still join together as one Diocese in prayer even though we cannot see each other in person.

 

In addition, Winchester Cathedral is hosting a daily video reflection and prayer, which you can access here . Each day you will find a new prayer and reflection from members of the Cathedral community, which we hope you will find helps to provide some spiritual nourishment over the coming days and weeks.

 


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

Dear Friends,


26th March Update


We are all trying to adjust to the new situation in which we now find ourselves. We thought you might find it useful to read some insights which David Ison, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, has shared from a group which worked on a three-year project on trauma and tragedy in Christian congregations:

 

This crisis is traumatic for communities, the nation, the world. It’s not a shock-event like a fire or a terrorist attack, but a slow-building crisis – a crisis that shatters our assumptions that the world is generally safe and reliable, and that all that we’ve worked for in businesses, churches and communities will be fruitful. The loss of security and hope, the breaking down of supportive connections between people, and the fear that this crisis is overwhelming – all of these are characteristics of trauma.

 

Some of the wisdom that has been gained about trauma recently can help:

 

a) Our whole selves are affected – we may feel all sorts of strange symptoms, because our body is reacting to the fact that we don’t feel safe. Concentration and sleep may be difficult. We feel distracted, and find it hard to cope. Emotions will be all over the place in surprising ways. Knowing that in traumatic situations it’s normal to be up, down, energetic, exhausted, afraid – will help us to cope with it.

 

b) People react very differently, depending on different backgrounds and experiences, including past traumas. We need to be kind and understanding to others, and also to ourselves.

 

c) We respond best when we have clear, reliable information; when we have something practical that we can do; and when we can be connected to others, if not in person then by phone or through social media, T V and radio.

 

d) We make sense of things by making them part of our story – the story of our own life, and the stories of our communities and of our world. But this takes time. While the trauma is unfolding and we continue to experience the pain of losing what we once had, it’s very hard to make sense of it. We need to remember that holding on together is how we’ll eventually be able to come through and look back on what we’ve experienced.

 

Communities (and individuals) typically respond to disaster by first going through a ‘heroic phase’, full of energy and self-sacrifice. This eventually burns itself out, and is followed by a ‘disillusionment phase’, which may contain much mutual blame and suspicion. Only as the disillusionment phase loses its force can realistic, hopeful rebuilding take place.

 

This is a very confusing and draining time, a time when ordinary healthy rhythms are lost. We may be feeling in our minds and bodies the impact of trauma – feeling low and anxious one day when it’s hard to get your brain in gear, energetic the next day, and all at a time when we need to be able to change and adapt to unusual events. So taking care of ourselves and our own well-being is vital. That includes the basics of good rest, eating, and exercise. It also includes as far as possible having people we trust whom we can share with, and being in touch with them.

 

We pray you will know the comfort of the Holy Spirit in this difficult time, and know more of the Father’s love for us.  Thank you for all that you are continuing to do in your communities.Dear friends*


One of the things we have been hearing from many people recently is how grateful they are to be in contact with others.  We hope that, through new and different means, you are also feeling connected, both practically and in the unity of the Spirit.

 


25th March Update


We recognise that yesterday’s announcement about the closure of churches came as a shock to many.  The buildings in which we worship are icons of God’s faithfulness to our communities throughout centuries, and a focus of our communal life, so it is painful to think of them empty, especially at this time of year. 

 

There has been some confusion about this decision, in part because some government advice (now being corrected) indicated that churches could remain open for private prayer, or for the recording or streaming of services.  Both national and diocesan FAQs have been updated to make it clear that our church buildings should remain closed.  The government has requested that we all stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave for certain limited purposes.  Our responsibility as churches, leaders and as Christians, is to model that for our friends and neighbours, expressing our solidarity with the vulnerable and those who are working to care for them by taking these extra precautions.

 

Obviously, this is also a disappointment to those who had made plans and preparations for recording from the church buildings in which their communities are accustomed to worshipping.  Ministers are being asked to record and live-stream prayer and worship from their homes where they are able to do so.  The Bishop has given permission to priests to celebrate Holy Communion from their homes, with details in the diocesan FAQs.

 

Many churches have been enquiring about volunteering.  As a national programme of volunteer help for those in need begins to take shape, we encourage you again to support foodbanks, and invite willing volunteers to check this link for opportunities .

 

We continue to pray for you in yet another new phase of adjustments.  May the peace of the Lord be with you.


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.