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'The Lord is a fire around his people, and the glory in the midst of them' ~ c.f. Zechariah 2.5
Well, here we are again. Lockdown 2.0. In the words of Robert, Bishop of Exeter, in a recent letter, "With the nights drawing in, going into a second lockdown feels heavy, but we hope that it will help arrest the spread of the virus, and most importantly bring down the rising tide of infections and hospital admissions." He goes on to quote Paul from 2 Corinthians 4.8, "We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair".
In case you missed them, you can find lots of info and resources on what the current guidelines are and what they mean for churches, here:
It is worth noting, too, that the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, MPs including Teresa May, and many others, are challenging the government on the closure of church buildings and banning of public worship. You can write to your MP (probably Ben Bradshaw) here https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ if you'd like to join them, or even just ask for the evidence behind the decision. You might also consider signing this petition, here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/548621
However, for now, lockdown 2.0 is the law. There were 708 Covid cases in Devon in the last week, including at least one death in Exeter. You can find more local facts and info here:
The national government info is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november and info for churches particularly is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#weddings-
In brief, stay at home as much as possible; only leave your home for food, medicine, exercise, education, and work if you can't work from home. You can't mix with other households unless they are part of your support bubble, childcare bubble, or you are meeting one other adult in a public space for exercise.
When outside, follow guidelines by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering in enclosed public spaces, and staying 2m apart from anyone who you do not live with.
As Dr Virginia Pearson, Director for Public Health Devon, told us, the latest data shows the numbers of cases in the county are increasing, following the pattern in the rest of England. She urges, "I am calling on everyone to follow the new lockdown rules, to limit their contact with others, and to follow the basic rules – social distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene – at all times."
So, there you have it, folks. Lockdown 2.0.
The list of news, events, and so on below offer some ways we the Church in Exeter can provide help to one another and to our community in the coming weeks. If you know of something else we can include in our next news, going out towards the end of this month, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and blessings,
Hannah, Ash, and the CTAX team
Due to lockdown, our AGM is happening by email this year! Copies of last year's minutes are available on request, as are our accounts. We would like to invite the following names for co-option to our executive committee:
Frank Bennett, who chairs Crosslink Transformation Network
Revd. Helen Sherlock, Unlimited Church
Revd. Phil Wales, Exeter Cathedral
Stu Alred, Pastor of Grace Church Exeter
If you are your church's rep on CTAX Council, please would you get back to us in the next two weeks if you have any objections or other comments? We would like to be able to formally offer a position on CTAX to each of these folk as soon as possible.
We are also waiting to hear back from maybe three other possibles, and will seek to co-opt them through exec in due course.
Covid support available for clinically vulnerable people
Councils, charities and community groups, many of them staffed by Christian workers and volunteers, offer food deliveries, lifts to medical appointments, and other help to those who are most vulnerable in our city. You can find some more info here: www.devonnewscentre.info/devon-councils-are-ready-again-to-support-the-most-clinically-vulnerable-throughout-the-national-lockdown
Covid emergency grants
If you or someone you know has lost income and are struggling to pay for basic household essentials, money is available via small emergency grants to people in financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. More info here: www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/support-for-people-and-families/
Community support available during lockdown
Anyone in need of help and support during lockdown should contact Exeter Community Wellbeing on 01392 265000. Exeter Community Wellbeing can help people with things like:
✅ Arranging priority food delivery slots from local supermarkets
✅ Delivery of essential supplies
✅ Food vouchers
✅ Collecting and delivering prescriptions
✅ Wellbeing check-ins by phone
✅ Connecting you with people or services who can offer further support
Churches open for private prayer
The new restrictions allow churches with buildings to remain open for private prayer, so many of our city's churches will still be opening, at least at set times, for private prayers throughout the next few weeks. For example, Exeter Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday from 11-3. The Dean, Jonathan Greener, said, "Please drop in, light a candle, and join the great army of Christians around the world who are battering heaven’s doors with their prayers."
So why not visit a church for private prayer, #CovidSecure with hand sanitisers, face masks, and safe distancing in place.
Lockdown hit just in time to close churches for Remembrance Sunday, but several Exeter area churches were able to offer acts of remembrance outdoors or online. The city's Civic Service was live streamed by Exeter City Council. More info here: https://news.exeter.gov.uk/remembrance-sunday-service-will-be-live-streamed/
Please note this important message from Gary and Mary at Bridge Books, our local Christian bookshop:
"We want to thank you in advance for your continued support and involvement in this ministry which continues to touch thousands of lives. Naturally, you cannot come into the shop during this new lockdown period. However, you can still get all your inspiring resources from us. We will be here from 9.30am til 1.30pm Monday to Saturday to take your phone call, email, enquiries/orders, and fulfill your online orders.
Do take time to look at our packed website: www.bridgebookshop.co.uk and let the Holy Spirit guide you as you look to satisfy your needs and/or encourage others. You can also order or make enquires via our email: email@example.com Plus you can call us on 01392 427171 – We will gladly speak with you about your needs. Or leave a short message and we will get back to you asap. Purchases will be posted out or delivered for a small charge. Also, orders can be collected by arrangement.
Please do pass on this information to others who surely will need our encouraging resources especially when faith and hope is in such great need.
Every continued blessing, and stay safe,
Gary & Mary
As we head into another lockdown, Exeter Free Food Network are more grateful than ever for your support. Faithful provision of free food, volunteer hours, and much more has really been a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Here are some key bits of current news on this front:
StP’s and lockdown: St Petrock’s frontline housing and homelessness services will be operating as usual throughout lockdown. Our Rough Sleeper Support Service will be going out and about each weekday morning - please see updated RSSS flyer attached, which includes a map of their route on the reverse. Please do feel free to distribute as helpful. An updated Free Food Network flyer is also attached. We will still be holding one-to-one follow up appointments for people in the centre (albeit at slightly reduced volume) and will be delivering meals to the folk currently housed at the Great Western Hotel as usual. However, we are not able to take donated items and will have very limited project support staff on-site in the centre – please see here for details: http://stpetrocks.org.uk/how-you-can-help-in-lockdown2/
Funding for GWH meals: it’s now been confirmed that Exeter City Council have received some funding to help cover the cost of meals at GWH this winter (although this is regrettably less than hoped for). This will be shared across churches and charities like Bread of Life, St David's Church Exeter and St Petrock's, who are providing free food to residents at the GWH.
Christmas: There are a lot of unknowns around Christmas this year and the pressures on volunteers are likely to be greater than ever. However, if you are able to let us know when you know what your plans are for supporting Exeter's homeless – and where you may struggle to sustain services - that would be very helpful. We will do our best to work together and fill any gaps to make things as good as possible for the people we’re supporting in the difficult circumstances.
StP’s Christmas plans are as follows:
Friday 25th December (Christmas Day)
StP’s Rough Sleeper Support Outreach Service, 9am – 12noon. Team will be distributing luxury Christmas food parcels and small gifts (but regrettably will not be able to have anyone inside the centre). Christmas lunch boxes to be delivered to GWH
Saturday 26th & 27th
StP’s closed for weekend as usual
Monday 28th December
StP’s Rough Sleeper Support Outreach Service, 9am – 12noon. Meal delivery to GWH as usual.
Tuesday 1st January (New Years’ Day)
No StP’s Rough Sleeper Service or GWH deliveries. Cereal & pot noodles or similar will be supplied to GWH on the 31st for the following day.
City Council's winter provision: Government guidance advises that intensive use of shared facilities is a Covid risk, so as far as we are aware, a ‘night shelter’ model will not be running this year. However, ECC are providing additional semi-supported accommodation for the winter, over two venues (one of which is the Junction). We understand that as in previous years, provision is accessible to people with ‘a local connection to Exeter’; we believe they are fully-booked for now, with a waiting list. We’ve been advised that people in both venues have access to kitchen facilities so do not need meal delivery every night. However, if you do have surplus after your outreach provision it is likely to be welcome there – we will provide details of this soon. (We also have a few kind people / groups who are waiting in the wings, keen to start meal provision – so will be linking them up there).
Many thanks again for all your outstanding support – and do get in touch if you have any questions and concerns
Churches Together Devon
The November edition of Churches Together Devon news is now available from: https://mailchi.mp/b1ab5cddba85/ctd-news-update-november-2020?e=8484c4b7b3
Highlights include calls to prayer for the nation, an open letter to the PM about reopening churches, more info about South West Carols (see lower in this email, as well).
You can also find CTD news, here: www.ctdevon.org.uk
Churches Together England
The November edition of CTe-News from Churches Together England is now available from www.cte.org.uk/news
Highlights include articles on:
Chriistian Perspectives on Remembrance Sunday
Church leaders call for end of child poverty
Reports on Racial Justice and Intermediate Ecumenism from the CTE Enabling Group
Bishop Joe Aldred's retirement
Get it here www.cte.org.uk/news
National Call to Prayer
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting Christians to share in urgent prayer for the nation. The link to the resources is https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-
Cathedral Christmas market
The Christmas market at Cathedral Close has now been cancelled due to Covid. The Dean, Jonathan Greener said, "we are of course disappointed about the Christmas Market – for the traders’ sake, and because it’s such a vital part of Exeter’s Christmas. But keeping people safe, protecting the NHS, and obeying the Law, have of course to be our priorities." Info here: https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeter-christmas-market-is-cancelled-4661228
Advent and Christmas
The Church of England’s Christmas campaign this year will focus on the theme of "Comfort and Joy". Their website provides links, resources and a handy booklet: www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/living-out-our-faith/advent-andchristmas/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy
The Bible Society are excited to share their brand new Christmas Resources with you. This year, their retelling of the nativity story “It Begins in Bethlehem – A Nativity Rhyme for Christmastime” features glorious rhymes from Bob Hartman, lively illustrations by Mark Beech and interactive elements for children to enjoy. Why not order yours now? With your Christmas services and outreach in mind, they’ve also adapted the story into a rehearsal-free nativity script which is free to download and suitable for either online or in church use. A video animation of the story will be available to download for free, here: www.biblesociety.org.uk/products/bib-000519
Christingle – Children’s Society have loads of resources, ideas, materials and wisdom for running a Covid Secure Christingle. More details on their website: www.childrenssociety.org.uk/how-you-can-help/fundraise-andevents/christingle/planning-your-celebration
January Week of Prayer for Christian Unity & EXETER PRAYS 2021
We are seeking to establish a “shield of prayer” for our city as we begin 2021, to invite a move of God that brings protection, blessing, salvation and transformation across the whole city and region.
From Sunday 3rd – Sunday 24th January, Exeter Prays will feature 3 weeks of daily prayers led by a range of local leaders by video link using the “Pray for Exeter” Facebook page to enable people all around the city to participate.
The culmination of this time Sunday 24th January will be an online “Exeter Prays” event marking the conclusion of the international Week of Prayer Christian Unity.
We will gather to pray for our city, church congregations and Christian ministries all around the city.
If you are interested in being involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
10th November & 9th December
One for Exeter Church Leaders' Breakfast
On Zoom - contact email@example.com
One for Exeter host a monthly breakfast for church leaders, the next one being tomorrow Tuesday 10th November, 9am. Reply here for the link.
Home for Good Training Webinars: How to Support Families Caring for Vulnerable Children
As more Christians step forward to foster or adopt, we want to ensure our churches are safe and welcoming for all children, young people and their families. With an introduction to how early life experiences can impact children and how these can affect all aspects of their lives, as well as practical ways to wrap around whole families, this training is for anyone with a heart to support families caring for vulnerable children. More info: www.homeforgood.org.uk/events
GRA:CE Project Launch
At a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what is the future for the national church? How should it respond to the intensifying social, material, and spiritual needs of the people it exists to serve? Drawing on three years of extensive research across the country, the GRA:CE Project – a partnership between Theos, Church Urban Fund, and the Church of England – seeks to address these core issues. The event will launch the research findings and recommendations. Further information: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-grace-project-launch-online-tickets-119924668913
Families for Children online information session
‘Are you considering adoption but not sure where to start?' Families for Children is holding ONLINE information sessions for you to find out more. You will hear from adopters / how you can adopt / the qualities needed / and of course about the children waiting. Go to https://familiesforchildren.org.uk/book-online-information-event/ or call 01364 645480 to book
12th, 17th & 26th November
Covid Cash Course
The Covid Cash Course is a 2 hour zoom session, which up-skills churches, community leaders, and organisations to provide key information and resources to help their communities cope with the variety of money issues that have developed as we continue through the pandemic. More info here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/jff-in-partnership-with-transforming-plymouth-30805068524
Don't be misled by the TPT branding: this is open to all of Devon, not just Plymouth!
On Zoom - email firstname.lastname@example.org for the link
Crosslink Transformation Network brings together Christians in the marketplace as well as churches, to help folk bring about transformation in their workplaces, as part of bringing transformation to our nation. They host a regular breakfast meeting and other events for Christians to meet, support one another, and the next one is this Friday, 13th November, 8-9.30am. Email email@example.com for the link
14th November, 12th December, and 23rd January
The Saturday Reading Room
On Zoom - email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
'The Saturday Reading Room' is a monthly poetry appreciation group running on Zoom at 7.30pm on November 14th (What is poetry?), December 12 (What's poetry for?) and January 23rd (Poetry and prayer). There are ten spaces available for each session. For more information, see www.innerroom.co.uk.
TAG Catalysts mentor facilitators training
SWYM (South West Youth Ministries) are launching a brand new mentoring and discipleship resource for local churches and groups, to equip young people to become pioneers of change – TAG Catalysts. To find out more, book or just register your interest, go to https://swym.org.uk/event/tag-catalysts-training/ or email email@example.com
Pray for YMCA Exeter
On Zoom - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link
Join others to pray for the work of Exeter YMCA, their staff, and the residents and young people they support. In the last three months of prayer, we've already seen situations shift and clear interventions by God.
1st December (and the first Tuesday of every month)
Pray 4 Exeter
On Zoom - contact email@example.com for the link
Join others to pray for our city and nation. First Tuesday of every month, 10-11am.
5th and 6th December
South West Big Christmas Carols
Professionally produced carols from a range of participants including well known Christian singers (Matt Redman, Lucy Grimble, London Community Gospel Choir, Wildwood Kin and a Cathedral Children’s Choir TBC).
Interspersed with testimonies of people's experience of the hope of the gospel, with J John TBC.
Large nativity featuring multiple schools from across the southwest - a narration of the nativity acted out and captured on camera. Possibly the largest nativity in the southwest.
Live presenters topping and tailing the night.
More info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6khlD6Nh44
14th December (and the second Monday of each month)
Pray for Exeter Street Pastors
On Zoom - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link
The monthly prayer meeting for Exeter Street Pastors and those they work with is continuing on Zoom. Email for the link if you would like to support Exeter Street Pastors in prayer.
Vacancies & Training
Grow: Equipping God’s People to Serve with Joy
"There are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone" - 1 Corinthians 12:6
Grow is an exciting new series of courses designed to enable people to grow in their faith and service to God and the Church. You may already be fulfilling a really vital role in your local church, or you may be considering where you can next use your time and energy in God's service. The Grow series of learning aims to help you with those things.
Recent and upcoming sessions include Pastoral Care; Leading Worship; Small Group Leadership; Administration; Children’s work; Stewardship; Preaching; Pioneering; Youth work; Evangelism and Mission.
SWYM Free Training - Professional Development Days
South West Youth Ministries run excellent Professional Development Days for youth and children’s workers. The coming line-up will take place at Lee Abbey or virtually if necessary. More info here: https://swym.org.uk/event/professional-development-training-days/
St Mellitus College Open Days
St Mellitus College offer a nourishing and stretching formational environment for Anglican ordinands in training, alongside the intellectual and spiritual equipping of lay people pursuing undergraduate theological study. They are running Open Days on 10th November, 19th January, 23rd February, 16th March, 27th April, 25th May & 22th June. More info here: https://exeter.anglican.org/ministry/vocations/st-mellitus-college/
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