Weekly News from the Diocese

Diocese of Monmouth Esgobaeth Mynwy

Friday Update from Bishop Cherry

Dear Friends,

Firstly, it is good to see that some of the church buildings across our diocese have been able to open for private prayer. This won’t be possible for everyone and no-one should feel compelled or pressured to open if the demands of complying with Welsh Government regulations are too great; for whatever reason. Whilst our buildings offer a special and dedicated sacred space for prayer, we are all well aware that we can pray anywhere and have been doing for the past four months. That said, there are many of us who long to return to our church buildings and I am grateful to the Archdeacons and the local churches with whom they have worked for enabling at least some to be open safely.

The latest advice (out today) is that services can resume in churches from July 19th as long as health and safety guidelines can be complied with. More detailed information is available below.

Alongside all this, clergy and congregations will have been considering for some time what of the ‘new ways of being’ they will want to continue and what of the ‘old ways of being’ they will wish to discontinue. In the light of what we have learnt (thanks to the lockdown) about the very different ways in which we can be the Body of Christ and fulfil the calling entrusted to us by God, we now have a wonderful opportunity to re-imagine how we go about sharing the good news, growing as disciples, serving our communities and drawing others into a knowledge of God’s love for them.  Going back to how we were is not an option, not least because the future remains very uncertain in terms of how COVID-19 is going to continue to impact our world for the foreseeable future. But the Good News of Jesus Christ remains unchanged and our task as his Church to share it in the multitude of ways available to us remains undiminished.

May God continue to bless and guide us into being the Church he calls us to be, inspired and equipped by his Holy Spirit to be his agents of love and transformation in the world he created.
Churches can re-open for public worshipChurches in Wales can re-open for public worship from next weekend as the Welsh Government eases lockdown restrictions.

Those are able to meet strict safety regulations can re-open for services from Sunday, July 19, including baptisms and Holy Communion for the first time since lockdown. Church halls can also re-open from July 20.

Churches are already allowed to open, where possible, for private prayer, weddings and funerals.

The Church in Wales has worked with the Welsh Government on safety measures churches have to implement in order to re-open for public worship. These include maintaining a two-metre distance between people and ensuring sufficient hygiene and cleaning protocols. Churches also have to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment before re-opening.

As a result, not all churches will be able to re-open for either public worship or private prayer at this time. For some it will depend on the availability of volunteers to monitor social distancing and ensure churches are kept clean.

While welcoming the news that churches can now re-open for public worship, the Church’s bishops urge caution and say safety must be the first consideration.

In a statement, they say, “A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential. What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time. 
“Whilst we rejoice that we can now return to worship in our churches, we urge local churches not to rush re-opening. Only consider re-opening if you can do so effectively and safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.”
The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, added, “This is welcome and long-awaited good news and a sign that we are on our way to recovering from the pandemic as lockdown is easing. But we cannot be complacent or reckless. We must proceed with caution and care and worship will be different from that to which we have been accustomed in the past.

“I want to thank those who will be making preparations for their building to be open – it will involve quite a lot of work and paying attention to some very technical guidelines. But thank-you for making the effort – what you are doing will be hugely appreciated by those who until now have not been able to participate in worship with others.”

For those still unable to attend services at church buildings, worship and fellowship is still taking place online. Digital church – from live-streamed eucharists on Facebook to prayer meetings on Zoom – is available across Wales. Check out your local church’s social media pages for information or find a service through the Church in Wales website at https://bit.ly/3dEVySx

The updated guidance and safety criteria for re-opening for public worship will be published on the Church in Wales website by Monday.Watch the Archbishop’s message here.As more of our church buildings begin opening we want to thank all the volunteers and clergy who are working hard to make this possible.Live-streamed Services & Reflections: Catch up on Bishop Cherry’s Tuesday reflection here.

Join a Sunday Eucharist from Bishop Cherry at 11am here.
 Diocesan re-opening church buildings grant scheme – deadline extendedWe will be keeping this grant open for applications until the end of July.
Please click here to view the application form with more information.Coming Soon from St Padarn’s!An Exciting Webinar Series focused on Digital MinistryWe are all re-imagining how we as Church do ministry at present, and there are a multitude of tools available to help us do so in a creative and communal way, as will be explored through this series of webinars which will be spread over several weeks.The series commences on Tuesday July 21st, when Bob Jackson (author of Everyone Welcome Online) will be sharing more about online ministry and the crucial role that this is playing play in the mission of the church both now and going forward. This continues on Friday July 24th when Peter Phillips (CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology) will talk about ‘iPresence’ and creative and effective ministry within an increasingly digitalised culture. Both Bob and Peter have been key figures in the conversations around digital ministry over the past couple of months, so I highly commend both of these webinars to you.Each will last 45 minutes with an additional 30 minutes for Q&As. We are delighted that we are able to offer these webinars free of charge, and details on timings and how to book your place will be advertised shortly.Over the weeks that follow, we will be concentrating more on some of the many practical issues we’re all facing, from how to run a Coffee Morning via Zoom, to editing videos for your Facebook page! We’ll also be hearing about how different churches in various contexts are using technology to impact their churches and local communities. So, keep an eye on your email and our social media for information about these exciting webinars!St Padarn’s Safeguarding Training

Please click on the image to enlarge.Following the success of their first church fundraising webinar, Ecclesiastical are running a further two sessions, covering digital fundraising and communications.
Digital fundraising and crowdfunding during COVID-19 and beyond
22nd July 2020, 3pm, 30 minute presentation followed by 15 minutes Q&A
For more information and to register click here.
Keeping in touch with your congregation, community and donors
5th August 2020, 3pm, 30 minute presentation followed by 15 minutes Q&A
For more information and to register click here.Spotlight

Taking a closer look at things with views from across the diocese.This week Rev Karen and Rev Timothy talk about their time in the Diocese so far.Easter Sunday was due to be our farewell service in New Zealand, but lockdown came in very quickly, our Easter Sunday services were all cancelled and our flights to Wales were also cancelled. A hurried visit to the travel agent brought us the news that we would need to leave in the next day or two or risk being stuck for months, so we packed up quickly and headed for Wales expecting the UK government to be going down the ‘herd immunity route’ and expecting to find everything open. Whilst we were in the air the UK government changed direction and locked down. We arrived at a hastily locked down Heathrow, jumped on a bus and arrived at an empty Vicarage. Thanks to local knowledge we managed to stay on a local holiday rental for a few days whilst people dropped off bits and pieces at the Vicarage gate which we then picked up and carried into our new home. Thankfully, companies like AO and Argos were still delivering to the gate and we managed to rent a 4G router after wired ways of connecting to the internet were unavailable until July. So, after a week of no bed and no cooker or fridge and only mobile phone access to the internet we were suddenly living in a more humane environment. We brought with us an iPhone and a small laptop and quickly began contacting people to try and put together a database of email addresses and telephone numbers and thus began our new venture into online Services. Bringing up 4 teenagers meant I had to be up to date with technology to keep one step ahead of them on the internet😊 and this knowledge allowed me to quickly get to grips with video editing and production. We tried filming in a church and in a hall, but the lighting was wrong, and Karen looked like a dark shape officiating at the altar, so we dropped that idea. We also realised that a lot of people would be self-isolating and so decided on our walks, visits to check on churches and trips to the shops, that we would make use of our phone to film bible readings and intercessions etc in bluebell woods, by the riverside and in nearby orchards. We also decided the best place to celebrate the Eucharist was in our garden with the lovely view over the Wye Valley, it gave our celebrations an energy that would not have been possible indoors. We have though, had our challenges with this, sometimes the birds have been rather boisterous as has the wind and the weather can change quite suddenly here can’t it, sometimes it has been late on a Saturday before the sun has finally peeked through, all a bit different from New Zealand. As Co-Ministry Leaders of some 19 Parishes across Monmouth the challenge has also been to try and find a balance in our online services that appeals and ministers to a broad cross-section of churchmanship. The response though has been phenomenal, with loads of grateful emails from church regulars but also from many who have not been in church for a long time. We have also started producing a weekly A4 update which is easy for people with a small printer to print off and leave on the doorstep of neighbours and of others who are not online. We are now looking at how we carry this online presence forward, at the importance of keeping our online materials up to date and looking at ways to film services (when they finally get under way again) so that those who are not yet ready to venture out, do not feel forgotten.
The Reverend Karen Dack and the Reverend Timothy Dack are Co-Ministry Area Leaders for Monmouth and Priests in Charge of the Rural and Town groups, respectively. They have ministered in London, Cumbria, Guernsey and New Zealand.To mark this year’s centenary of the Church in Wales, Canon Law expert Professor Norman Doe has edited a book of essays on all aspects of its life. Contributors include two former and one serving Archbishop of Wales.
Find out more here.
And get 20% off at bit.ly/2AEY50a
This month Bishop Cherry will be taking part in a Q&A video, but we still need more questions. If you’d like to ask her a question please email debragoddard@churchinwales.org.uk.
Questions can be on any topic, silly or serious! We’d love for questions to be sent in a video format, but if this is a problem, please send in your written question and it may be read out during the Q&A. Rhymney Valley Foodbank JobThe Rhymney Valley Foodbank, a ministry within the Upper Islwyn Ministry Area, has secured funding to employ a full-time Foodbank Manager for 1 year.  If you would like to receive an application pack please contact: info@rhymneyvalley.foodbank.org.uk , or for an informal conversation please ring Rev Leah Philbrick on 01443 820 778.  Deadline for application 17th JulyChildren, Families & Young Peoples Resources
 Cyncoed Ministry Area – Online Sunday School
The Sower
Check out this week’s Sunday School here.
To join the Zoom Sunday school email matt@cyncoedministryarea.org.uk or join on Facebook here at 2pm on Sunday.
 St Teilos High School are providing weekly services for young people, you can catch up with previous services and watch this week’s here.Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School have lots of child friendly services available here.Mainly Music
This session is all about driving. Bring a plate for your steering wheel and if you have a transport costume, wear that too!
VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/434573164/a8ecf07aff  
YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/X4migajMcTk
And for this session you’ll need some blocks.
VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/436646519/2765041b1a
YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/xm4lB1ICC08
 Care for the Family
Care for the Family’s Kitchen Table Project is supporting churches and their work with families, watch their video here.
And find more of their resources here.Scripture Union
Scripture Union have a variety of resources available for children and young people, including daily craft and prayer activities and mental health resources. Check them out here.There are lots more amazing resources for children and families available on our website here.For a downloadable and printable version of this email please click here.

You can find the one-stop-shop for all you need to know and this week’s updates here.