During lockdown, the Southend Boys and Girls Choirs, along with past members, gathered online to record the song ‘We are One,’ by Brian Tate, to raise money for NHS charities. The words are:
When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one.
When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run, we are one.
And we shall love one another with all our hearts,
And we shall care for each other with all our soul & our might.
When we stand, when we fall, when we rise we are one.
We are one in the cold, in the heat, in the dark, in the sun, we are one.
When we’re hurting one another, that’s the way we hurt ourselves.
With our sisters and our brothers, we will rise.
And we do, and we try; we must live or we die.
We will reach, we will climb, we will rise, we will fly, we are one.
And these words shall be forever within our hearts.
And we shall teach them to our children and remember them in our lives.
When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one.
When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run.
We are strong, we belong, we are one!
It was a great opportunity for these young people to engage and work together in a really positive project.
I have noticed over the past couple of months, in some instances, morale begin to wane as, understandably, people acknowledge the reality of the fact that there is not a quick fix to the coronavirus. And, at this time, it is so important to remember that, as a global and local people, we are one. This isn’t to deny our unique God-given characteristics as individuals, communities and churches. But we are facing challenging times and the way we will get through it is to recognise our connectedness and our interdependence.
For priests, especially when faced with difficult decisions, it can sometimes be a lonely road, particularly when people grumble that things aren’t as they would like them to be, or as they once were. It is, of course, crucial to ask questions and reflect, and sometimes this means all of us being prepared to be challenged about our own views or ways of doing things, in order to grow and move forward. That is part of being a Christian and a church. But it is also important, as people of God, to aspire during these times to be a ‘can do’ people. Most of us are encouraged and energised by having ‘can-do’ people around us; I know I need such people to support and assist me in my role. If we remain a ‘can do’ people, we will be a ‘can-do’ church as I hope we have been through the past few months.
I believe, with God’s help, we can work together, as one, to be a ‘can-do’ people, locally, and globally. In this Benefice we have provided 1.5 tonnes of food to the foodbank since March and I am hopeful that we can increase our donations this month when we would, otherwise, have been having Harvest collections at church. Let’s aim to collect the same amount of, if not more, food this October than before. We have also been having some discussions recently about our church governance structures which have resulted in some very honest, challenging and, sometimes, painful discussions, but which have culminated in some very positive mutual support as we find new ways of being community and working together. Can I encourage you all, as we move forwards in these unprecedented times, to remember that God calls us, to work together as one, as a ‘can-do’ church, in the power of his comforting, challenging and ‘can-do’ Holy Spirit.
Dear All, I hope this finds you well. I am hoping that we can revert to a slightly amended form of notice sheet after this which will be emailed out and also put on our website and hard copies will be made available for those without a computer. It was good to see some of you at our Holy Communion Service on Sunday and to share the worship virtually with others of you. This Sunday the service will be at Horndon at 10am. Please try to let me know if you would like to come to this service so that we can plan accordingly. At the moment we are fine for numbers and, hopefully, this will remain the case but should there be too many people to accommodate priority will be given to those who were unable to come last week. Thank you for your continued support for the Foodbank. Needs this week are crisps of all flavours, savoury snacks such as cream crackers and cheese twists, condiments such as tomato sauce, brown sauce and mayonnasie, mashed potato, sponge puddings and nappies, sizes 2,4,5 and 6. Following the sad news that Hazel Swift died last weekend, we now know that her funeral will be on Thursday 30th July at 3pm at Horndon Church. Because of limited numbers able to attend, for the service and committal it will be invitation only but I know that Vanessa and Caroline woud be pleased for people to stand in the road to show their respects before the service and Brands are planning to drive round the main roads in the village prior to the service. Please do hold Vanessa and Caroline in your prayers at this difficult time. The interment of ashes of Doreen Bartley will take place at Orsett Churchyard on Monday 27th July at 2pm. Other prayer needs within the Benefice include Nicola, Steve, Dave, Steve and Steve. The link to the Diocesan Cycle of prayer for the rest of this month is http://click.hobnob.org.uk/ls/click?upn=7zNYsYQ4TytkeQI2qnMH8XVDwriBbuZ7b0PCIzKkN3zX4no2N-2BPGlSni2AI0TxItX9sVebT7a7CXXe-2BsrABqNYysIszFbtslXq-2Ffq7-2FirKY-3DL0bh_feKQ4xWNExwk9uM3ZmfeY-2FIFx35WGm0ujSUt2sL-2FyP90GA0fGBb9NU0KnkW3JvLhjrf6KfEH-2FYbghmPVFPEG8qoB-2Bnr1ZJXXatz-2B28-2Bzx6lZ7j2faMXnLE20mbe8Idlx5nMm5TXTKfneMG-2BRg6DybTrb5H6EB3FBW6NcJzrZZUMm76F9HBfOoN9xHimDmb9BSWLZHNIFtOjk6X2s9hnVfJqnHXr8ru-2FakOBmOOIfxRM-3D As ever, please do be assured of my prayers for you and please do hold the Wardens, Max and me in your prayers as we negotiate the return to church. Take care and God bless, Sue
I am looking forward to seeing some of you on Sunday at Orsett at 10am. Thank you to those who have let me know you are coming. If you are not able to join us in person, and have access to technology, we will be live -streaming the service so please do share in worship with us that way at hobnob.org.uk/watch This Sunday is Rural Mission Sunday and I am hoping that this will be a joyous service. Please, though, be aware that there will be some restrictions in place, as below. You can also find this information on our website.
Do not come to church if you or anyone in your household has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or is otherwise self-isolating.
Please note that, in accordance with the guidelines, “While those at extra risk and the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ should be advised of the risks of attending public worship, a decision to do so is theirs alone.”
When you arrive at church:
You may need to wait in a queue before you can enter. Please observe the 2m distancing.
Hand sanitiser will be available at the door and you will be asked to sanitise your hands on arrival.
We will register all who attend, and may ask you for additional contact details. (This is so that we can provide details of our visitors to NHS Test and Trace, if requested. We will hold this information for 21days.)
You will be shown to your seat by a sidesperson.
Movement around the church will be via a one-way system.
During the service:
There will be no singing. (This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol droplets.)
At Holy Communion Services, only the bread will be distributed and receiving it will be optional.
After the service:
There will be no refreshments.
You should leave church promptly when the service is over.
Take care to remain socially distanced as you leave. This may be overseen by a sidesperson.
Again, hand sanitiser will be available at the door.
or by sending a cheque made payable to The Mission to Seafarers to The Rectory and I will make sure it gets sent to the right place.
Local prayer needs this week include Nicola, Hazel, Dave, Steve, Steve, Allan, Steve, Jane, Dawn and Roy. Prayers for the Sixth Sunday of Trinity on our Diocesan Prayer Diary are for the men and women of the RNLI and HM Coastguard, who risk their lives to protect those who travel the seas around our coast. We are also asked to pray for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and The Most Reverend Joel Atiwag Pachao, Prime Bishop.
As ever, please let me know about any prayer or pastoral needs and be assured of my prayers for all of you.
Having written a long letter last week, this week’s message is brief in comparison and, as things unfold, whilst I will remain in touch to keep you informed, it is unlikely that I will be writing on a weekly basis, from now on, although I am aware that some of you like to receive Lectionary Readings, so I will give this some thought…
On Sunday 19th July, we will be holding our first church service in the Benefice since the beginning of the lockdown. This will be a short Holy Communion Service at Orsett Church at 10am. Please be aware that, at this stage, no singing is allowed and that social distancing and the necessary precautions will be in place. If this works efficiently, the plan is to hold weekly United Benefice services alternating between Orsett and Horndon so, all being well, the following week, on 26th July, the service will be at Horndon. Because of the small size of Bulphan Church and the fact that it is not possible to introduce a one-way system, Sunday services will not be held at Bulphan at this present time. However, Bulphan Church will continue to be open for individual private prayer on Monday and Thursday mornings between 10am and 12.00, along with Horndon on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, also from 10am until 12.00.
Having a booking system for church services seems contrary to the ethos of being welcoming, particularly to newcomers. However, it would be helpful if you could let me know whether you intend to come to church on 19th and how many members of your household this might include. Please could you also let me know if, at this stage, you don’t feel ready to come back to church so that we can plan accordingly; my contact details are at the top of this letter. If you are coming, you may wish to bring your own bible, to follow the readings as our pew bibles have been put away for the time being.
This Sunday will be our last online service in its present form, as we begin returning to church. However, I am considering how we might be able to record or livestream our church services in the future so that those of you who are not comfortable or able to return to public worship might still be able to share in the worship. I will keep you informed about progress which will require some thought as none of our churches currently have wifi. At the moment we will continue the livestreamed Morning and Evening Prayer and it is hoped that we may be able to continue some of these services in the future and, again, I will keep you informed, in due course, as to when and how often we might be able to do this.
Our online service this Sunday, as mentioned in last week’s letter, will celebrate The Mission to Seafarers when we remember the work of our dear friend, Glyn Jones, their former Secretary General. If you would like to make a donation to the Mission to Seafarers, you can click on,
You can also find out about The Mission to Seafarers Sunday Online Service at
With regard to the foodbank, needs this week include savoury treats for adults ie cheese biscuits, cream crackers or savoury biscuits, breakfasat bars, cheese twirls, breadsticks etc and they are also short of tinned rice. sponge puddings, tinned fruit (preferably not peaches), custard and jelly.
The Lectionary Readings for this week, beginning 13th July, are
Don’t forget you can also access Daily Hope, a free phone line of hymns, reflections and prayers, on 0800 8048044.
Local prayer needs this week include Nicola, Hazel, Dave, Steve, Steve, Jane, Dawn and Roy. Please pray for those affected by the crane collapse on the houses in Bow. And, of course, we remember all those whose lives are lived on God’ s great oceans and we give thanks for the work and inspiration of The Mission to Seafarers and pray for all agencies who work amongst seafarers. You may like to use the following prayer in your personal devotions.
Lord God, Creator of land and sea, bless those who work at sea. Be with them in fair weather and foul, in danger or distress. Strengthen them when weary, lift them up when down and comfort them when far from their loved ones. In this life, bring them safely to shore and, in the life to come, welcome them to your kingdom. For Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen. (From the Mission to Seafarers).
Thank you, so much, to all of you who during the past 4 months, have faithfully kept an eye on the Churches in the Benefice, tended the churchyards, phoned parishioners, delivered letters, cakes and shopping to others, assisted with readings and prayers for our online services and Max, with talks, and, more recently, thank you to those who have helped with risk assessments and cleaning in preparation for reopening. And, of course, your continued great support for Thurrock Foodbank, who anticipate an increased demand for the foreseeable future is greatly appreciated.
As ever, please continue to let me know about any prayer or pastoral needs and be assured of my prayers for all of you.
Now we are in July, we are approaching Sea Sunday, July 12th when we remember not only the work of the Mission to Seafarers but, in particular, our dear friend Glyn Jones, their former Secretary General who sadly died on Easter Monday this year, following a long illness. After the success of our online Christian Aid Appeal in May, I thought it would be good to do something similar for the Mission to Seafarers and we are fortunate to have been able to set up an online appeal for their work, in memory of Glyn; if you wish to donate, all you need to do is click on,
And thank you, Ron, for the thoughtful words you wrote about Glyn which are included on this page.
Reflecting upon mission, thank you for your continued fantastic support for Thurrock Foodbank. Items needed this week are sponge puddings, cooking sauces and jellies; shampoo, shower gel, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and nappies size 4, 5 and 6 are in particularly short supply.
As we prepare to open Bulphan and Horndon Churches for private prayer next week, as below, please can I remind you that this is for individual private prayer with the appropriate 2 metre social distancing in place, and not for social gatherings. Therefore, please could I ask that you adhere to the regulations displayed, to make our worship spaces as safe as possible for all. We all need to be mindful that some people may not feel able or comfortable to return to our church buildings at present and that this may be the case for the foreseeable future and I ask for your continued support in ensuring no one feels excluded.
Bulphan will be open on Monday and Thursday mornings from 10am until 12.00, beginning on Monday 6th July.
Horndon will be open on Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 10am until 12.00 beginning on Tuesday 30th June.
Our 10am Sunday online service will continue this week at hobnob.org.uk/watch or you can join in with our daily Facebook Morning and Evening Prayer services @HOBNOBChurches, and don’t forget you can also access Daily Hope, a free phone line of hymns, reflections and prayers, on 0800 8048044.
As you will be aware, the Government has issued some more information with regard to Sunday worship in our Church buildings and Church of England Guidance on this was released yesterday. I am, currently in the process of assimilating the documents but am looking towards introducing United Benefice Services on a Sunday. Coupled with this, as I have mentioned previously, the Church of England has recognised that out of this COVID-19 crisis, new patterns of ministry have emerged. Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, said,
‘The crisis is showing patterns that can enable the Church to recapture imaginations with the Gospel……We need to shrug off the instinct for safety and be ready to risk everything-even our bank balances- in the mission that Christ calls us to share with him. But then, since Jesus has already won the victory, what have we got to lose? The Church Times, 26th June, 2020.
I suspect, had it been suggested in January that we abandon all services in our Church buildings for three months and record Sunday services on Youtube, and live-stream Morning and Evening Prayer on Facebook each day, it might have been met with some resistance, not least from me! I am sure that many of us would have been very fearful. In fact, my recollection is that the discussion as to whether we should have a church Facebook page, some time ago, ran into debate of several hours, if one was to total up all the meetings at which it was deliberated! But, actually, since the beginning of the lockdown, online or telephone services for many people have become the norm.
In a study conducted by Tearfund, over a month ago, it was discovered that a quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began, and one in 20 have started praying during the crisis. The Church of England had found high numbers of people tuning into online or broadcast services, and 6,000 people phoned a prayer hotline in its first 48 hours of operation. A third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55. One in five of those who have tuned into services in the past few weeks say they have never gone to church.
So I think it can be said that the Church, generally, as well as locally, has risen to the occasion and in this Benefice I thank you for your support. We now, thanks to the help of Lynda Robertson, have nearly 300 people on our church data base and we also have 176 followers on our Facebook page. You may be aware that, on average, each day, between 20 and 30 people have joined in with our Morning or Evening Prayer services. And each Sunday, usually between 15 and 38 households worship with our online service.
You may, also, however, be aware of the concerning financial situation within the Church of England, and that clergy posts in our Diocese are in the process of being coded as Green, Amber or Red, with Green meaning a post is viable, Amber it is desirable, finances permitting, and Red, it is no longer viable. Ability to pay our share will be one factor taken into consideration with what has been termed the ‘RAG’ process, but the main factor is whether a post is of strategic importance, hence we need to be looking, seriously, at our strategies in this Benefice, in order to engage as many people as possible with the good news of the Gospel. It is a well-known fact that, prior to the coronavirus, Church of England Sunday church attendance was in steady decline but the above statistics reveal that hunger for God is not waning. Through this terrible pandemic I do believe that ‘God has revealed to the Church new insights and new ways of being faithful to the Gospel.’ The Church Times 26th June 2020.
The question for us now is, how do we move forward?
Friends, I believe this is a time of great opportunity; opportunity to reflect upon our current way of doing things, in order to share the love of Jesus with as wide a range of people as possible and this may mean, using the analogy of of abseiling, leaning back into the unknown from a somewhat scary precipice, trusting in the rope, the hands of the Almighty, in order to experience the exhilaration of the new adventure with God which, potentially, lies before us.
As I said in my letter a few weeks ago, we have beautiful, historic buildings which have been cherished and nurtured for centuries, and within which prayers have been offered to God by people through many generations, for which we are thankful. Our buildings are important sacred spaces, and, in another survey, recently carried out by Andrew Village and Leslie Francis, 67% of church people regarded buildings to be central to the Church’s witness but another 63% also believe now to be time to rethink the church’s future…..
So how do we use and share our buildings but, also, how do we move away from our dependence upon them and our expectation that people will come to them on a Sunday morning?
How, when and where do we do church in a manageable way, in order both to fulfil the needs of current members and engage with the many others in our communities who are searching for God?
How, moving forward, do we conduct worship in a meaningful, inclusive way, whilst embracing some elements of technology because, clearly, we live in a digital age?
These are hard questions which, if we are to be sustainable in the future, we cannot avoid addressing.
I understand that many of us are looking forward to returning to our buildings but we also need to learn from the past three months. I believe we have risen to the challenges the coronavirus has imposed upon us, and that we can rise to the challenges of what might God might be calling us to embrace now as the ‘new normal.’
In order to consider how we might approach the future for our church community and our worship, I will be sending out an online survey for completion in the next few weeks and ask that you do take the time to prayerfully consider and answer the questions. I invite you, whatever your age, to join me in this new adventure as, together, we stand at the top of a precipice ready to trust the arms of our loving Father, as we step, or even leap, into the unknown, knowing that God will never leave us or forsake us.
Psalm: 56; 2 Samuel 2: 1-11; 3.1 Luke 18: 31-19.10
Monday 6thThomas More, scholar, and John Fisher, bishop, martyrs, 1535
Psalm: 80; Judges 13: 1-24 Luke 17: 20-end
Psalm: 85; Job 33 Romans 14: 13-end
Psalm: 89: 1-18; Judges 14 Luke 18: 1-14
Psalm: 89: 19-end; Job 38 Romans 15: 1-13
Psalm: 119: 105-128 Judges 15: 1-16.3; Luke 18: 15-30
Psalm: 91; Job 39 Romans 15: 14-21
Psalm: 92; Judges 16: 4-end Luke 18: 31-end
Psalm: 94; Job 40 Romans 15: 22-end
Psalm: 88; Judges 17 Luke 19: 1-10
Psalm: 102; Job 41 Romans 16: 1-16
Saturday 11thBenedict, abbot, c.550
Psalm: 97; Judges 18: 1-20, 27-end; Luke 19: 11-27
Psalm: 104; Job 42 Romans: 16: 17-end
Local prayer needs this week include Nicola, Hazel, Dave, Steve, Steve, Jane, Dawn, Lyn, Roy, Mark, Derek and Alastair. Please continue to pray for those recently bereaved, including the family of Colin, Suzarne’s brother-in-law and, in particular, Colin’s wife, Diane, also our former Archdeacon, Mina, and her husband, Chris, following the tragic death of their two daughters in a London park, and those affected by the stabbings in Reading and Glasgow. Louise Bradshaw and Kevin McAlpin are due to be married this Saturday, so please hold them in your prayers. We are also asked to pray for the work of the Hockerill Foundation, which provides grants to teachers in training from this Diocese, St Albans’ Diocese and others, especially those studying Religious Education. We are also asked to pray for the United Church of Pakistan, the Most Reverend Humphrey Peters, Moderator and Bishop of Peshawar.
As ever, please continue to let me know about any prayer or pastoral needs and be assured of my prayers for all of you.