As I sit in my study, I am thinking back to all the Church liturgical events and activities that should have taken place in the past five months, but did not; Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost, to name just a few. There is a stark realisation of just how serious the authorities have taken the pandemic that we all know as COVID-19. Such extreme measures as closing schools and hurches; and office personnel relocating their work stations to home; shops, restaurants and shopping centres closing for a prolonged period of time, highlighted the fact that we as humans are creatures of habit. And yes, even the Parish Fête was cancelled. When the things we do — without even thinking, are taken away from us, we are lost for social interaction and activity.
It is this enforced shutdown that brought many families together in a way that otherwise would never have occurred. It was an opportunity that was afforded to us all to spend time with those we love most. The flip side of that coin was that there were other members of our families who were, and perhaps still are, cocooning and it was not possible to visit them. Nursing homes were closed to visitors, as were hospitals, and many people missed special family events and moments that would otherwise have been causes of great celebration. On the other hand, there were many stories of great sadness when loved ones struggled with the death of a spouse or family member. It was at times like this that I felt helpless, as we had to curtail the content of a funeral service in line with government regulations at the time. I must confess how humbled I was as people cooperated and understood the constraints that we as clergy found ourselves in. To those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, I offer my heartfelt and sincere condolences.
Throughout the closure of the Church, the Rector and I went about our duties in a very changed work environment, contacting the more vulnerable members of the Parish community, those living alone, those who we knew were sick, members of the congregation whom we knew had had falls etc, and to this end I would like to thank the many volunteers who assisted us in that task. One of the positive and heart-warming things to come out of the current heath crisis is the great sense of community and care shown to our parishioners by fellow parishioners and neighbours alike. I can honestly say that every person I contacted had nothing but good things to say about the way in which they were being cared for by neighbours and parishioners alike. Thank you, one and all. It goes to show that the Parish motto – ‘Serving the Parish and the Community’ - is what we are about.
As a Christian Community, we have indeed looked after one another and have also looked after our neighbours; this too is the action we are commanded to do – “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”. Another venture the Clergy discovered and mastered, was the weekly recording, editing and uploading of Sunday and Wednesday services to Facebook and YouTube. I know from the feedback that these were very much appreciated. They have now been replaced by the weekly live streaming of Sunday worship from Christ Church, Taney at 11.00am each week. I am also aware that this live streaming is very much appreciated by those who join in the worship from the comfort and safety of their homes. From speaking with many parishioners over the past number of months, I am aware they received great comfort from the prayers and online worship resources that kept them linked to the Parish and the community.
Throughout this difficult time, please remember you are not alone; as a Parish and a community, we are in this together and it is with the combined efforts of us all that we will get through this, and we will come out the other side of this pandemic. We are here to listen and to assist you in whatever way we can. Please continue to stay safe and follow all the guidelines as issued by the relevant authorities. There is one more thing I would like to say about the past five months and that is a huge THANK YOU to all the frontline staff, who simply, by going to work put themselves in danger of contracting COVID-19. We in Taney have a number of parishioners who are frontline workers: To them, and to all our frontline workers in the health service and beyond, I simply say “Thank you, Thank you and Thank you”. May God watch over you and protect you.
Rev. Nigel Pierpoint