Superintendent's LetterMay 2020
Let me begin by paying tribute to my colleagues – lay and ordained – who have shown flexibility, creativity, resilience and courage in meeting the needs of these past few weeks. I am grateful for the ways we have found to remain connected with one another even when this has meant using new forms of technology and spending time finding creative solutions to challenges. Many of us would never have imagined ourselves becoming familiar with Zoom before these days of lockdown.
Our hearts go out to families coping with the passing of those they love at this time. Many of us will sadly have a direct or indirect experience of the impact of restrictions upon being comforted and comforting others in their grief. We recognise the particular pain of grieving when separated from family and friends in other countries.
We hope that the various ways of keeping in touch have helped to minimise the sense of fear, anxiety and loneliness which we may have been experiencing. Most especially, we pray that we have been helped to experience the presence of God’s love, comfort, peace and grace during these hard days.
We offer continuing prayers for those of us engaged in offering essential services and who may be feeling drained and exhausted from the demands upon them.
From Ascension Day (21 May) to Pentecost (31 May) we are encouraged to participate in “Thy Kingdom Come”, which is a global wave of prayer. We are all encouraged to join with others around the world in praying for more people to come to know Jesus Christ, for ourselves to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and to find new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. In the “What’s on” section of the circuit website (https://www.croydonmeth.org/whats-on/) you can find prayer sheets designed for children, young people and adults. Each box represents a gift from God which can be the subject of prayer; there is a prayer for yourself on one page and a corresponding prayer for others on the following one.
This coming Sunday (17 May), Addington Methodist Church will celebrate her 70th anniversary. We give thanks for everyone connected with this church and for its presence and witness to God’s love in Christ in Addington. We wish you a happy anniversary, even though plans for the celebration may not be realised as hoped. Bennie is preparing a special anniversary service which will be available on YouTube; a link to this service will be available on the circuit website this weekend so that friends throughout the circuit can join in the celebration with our sisters and brothers in Addington. Congratulations also to Christ Church which has her 41st anniversary this Sunday.
On 24 May, Aldersgate Sunday, Jeremy Davies will reach the milestone of 40 years as a Local Preacher. Ann Atkins also recently celebrated 25 years as a Local Preacher. We thank God for the preaching ministry of Jeremy and Ann praying that God would continue to inspire, encourage and challenge us through you.
We are probably aware of the latest government guidance with the easing of some lockdown restrictions. The government’s strategy document released on Monday indicates that the opening of “public places” – which includes places of worship – will not take place until Step Three. This stage of the strategy will not be implemented before Saturday 4 July; however, developments during the coming weeks may change the time of implementation. Consequently, our church buildings will not re-open before the beginning of July. We will continue to be led by guidance from the connexion (https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/coronavirus/official-guidance/) and the London District (https://www.methodistlondon.org.uk/coronavirus), which can also be found on the circuit website (https://www.croydonmeth.org/our-churches/). When we can re-open we will make sure information is given to ensure the wellbeing of everyone entering our church premises. Whatever we do in terms of re-opening church buildings for worship and other activities will be done in a coordinated manner.
Since this week is Christian Aid Week I invite us to consider whether we can make a donation to support their ongoing work. Christian Aid is working in some of the poorest countries to support communities during the pandemic. Donations can be made via Christian Aid’s website: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/emergencies/coronavirus-emergency-appeal. I close with a prayer for a global pandemic offered by Christian Aid:
Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things. Love never ends.
(1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
strengthen our innermost being
with your love that bears all things
even the weight of this global pandemic
even the long haul of watching for symptoms
of patiently waiting for this to pass
watching and waiting,
keeping our gaze fixed on you,
and looking out for our neighbours
near and far.
Instil in our shaken souls
the belief and hope that all things
are possible with your creative love
for strangers to become friends
for science to source solutions
for resources to be generously shared
so everyone, everywhere, may have what they need
for your perfect love that knows no borders
may cast out any fear and selfishness that divides.
May your love that never ends
be our comfort, strength and guide
for the wellbeing of all and
the glory of God.