Back to School
If you are, or have been, the parent of a school-age child, you will be familiar with the “Back to School” banner that goes up in those shops urging you to re-equip your child with stationery, uniform, shoes, etc, ready for the new school year. You’ll also have noticed that the mantra begins early, usually before the summer term has ended, a bit like the Easter Eggs that appear the day after Boxing Day, or like the local shop someone sent a picture from the other day where they were already constructing their Christmas department. That was a Victor Meldrew moment if ever there was one!
This year, the phrase “Back to School” holds its own special meaning. Our schools have not worked normally since the Friday before lockdown, and it was only over the last month or so of the summer term that certain years were allowed to join the children of key workers. From September it is a case of back to it: everyone, all of the time. Our teachers have worked tirelessly to keep things going during these strange times and face the prospect of a good deal more uncertainty to come, for example, how much social distancing will be possible and how the systems that undoubtedly have been prepared will work in practice. We are right to thank the NHS. We are also right to thank our teachers, and, indeed, all key workers, who have worked so hard while many of us needed to take cover.
We don’t yet know what all this will mean for the wider community. We have learned that the virus is rarely passed on by children, and that they are rarely affected severely themselves. Yet the return to the classroom will increase the connectivity between families that lockdown sought to dismantle. There must be concerns, which is why the Government have warned that we may have to balance schools with other social outlets such as pubs and shops, and that almost everything else would be shut down again before further interruption of our children’s education was considered.
We have become used to fast changing events. Only a few weeks ago we were getting familiar with the three-week pattern of gradual re-opening of different sectors of society. Suddenly, the brakes were applied, localised lockdowns have become the pattern, wider use of face coverings has been implemented and the suggestion has been made that without a clear exit from the pandemic in view that we may have got as far as we can go in opening up once again. What has been dubbed “the new normal” seems to be taking shape.
For us in the Church, as with everyone else, we will need to adjust to this situation. Since March we have taken cover from behind the proverbial barricade. Then private prayer, then public worship in a limited form, returned. We were, as I suggested last month, coming up for air. In the coming weeks and months our focus will need to change. Instead of taking cover, we will need to learn what it is to emerge, not just to take a breather, but to shape a church that lives alongside Covid-19 as part of the fabric of life, at least until a solution can be found in the form of a reliable vaccine, or whatever else emerges.
We will need to learn from these last months what new things we have experienced that are worth holding on to, what has been lost that should stay lost, what adaptations were OK now but will in time be laid aside and what new things we need to enter into to be the effective church that God still calls us to be. We will need to plan with the realism of the present moment, so that the journey continues to be one of advance, rather than a cycle of two steps forward and one step back.
So it’s back to school, not just for our children, but for us at St Andrew’s too, as we hit the ground kneeling in prayer, asking what it is that the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Public Worship Restarts
I suspect that most people now know that from 11 July public worship restarted, with a Eucharist celebrated at 10.00am every Sunday. The more frequently events are held in church, the more rigorous is the cleaning regime expected. For this reason there are no immediate plans to restart the 8.00am service, or the Wednesday Eucharist, but this will be kept under review. For everyone’s safety, a number of measures are in place when we come to church…
- On arrival, please wait to be seated by a churchwarden or their deputy. Please sanitise your hands. You will find a laminated service order in your pew, which will be cleaned afterwards.
- Your presence will be recorded to support the NHS Track & Trace system should someone among us become infected.
- Please wear a face covering. This is now required by law. Exemptions are for those leading worship, or for medical reasons, or if to do so would cause someone extreme distress.
- Congregational singing is discouraged, but Alan, our Director of Music, will play the organ and cantor some pieces at a distance.
- Physical contact during the Peace is suspended.
- We receive Communion in one kind only – the exception being for the presiding priest. Please sanitise your hands before and after receiving.
- At the end of the service, please wait for a churchwarden or their deputy to show you out. Please sanitise your hands.
- Please do not linger inside the building. You can meet and talk outside the church, but be careful of the road!
- We regret that it is not currently possible to serve refreshments.
This all feels very strange, but it has been possible to worship well together, so please don’t be put off from joining us! You don’t need to remember all these rules - notices and reminders are in place. That said, if there are reasons why you should be taking extra care at this time, then please do so. We are continuing with the streamed service so you can find us on Facebook live on a Sunday at 10.00am, or later on as it remains on our page on completion.
The church remains open for private prayer on Sundays from 12 Noon until 3.30pm, and on a Thursday from 9.00am until 12.30pm. Please sanitise your hands on entry and exit, and please sit in the pews designated for that purpose.
Revd Peter Fulljames
We were sad to hear of the passing of the Peter Fulljames, who with Janet has been very much part of our St Andrew’s church family since they settled in Taunton on their retirement. Due to current restrictions the funeral, which was set within the Eucharist, meant attendance was restricted to parish staff and the family. At Peter’s request, the theme of the service was less about his life and ministry and more about the Resurrection of Christ, in whom Peter placed his trust in his living and in his dying. For many of us, though, our lasting memory of Peter will be of his quiet encouragement. Whether things in church went well or badly, he always had a kind word for all. The funeral service was streamed to our Facebook page at Janet’s request, where it will remain for a time if you would like to see it. We continue to pray for Janet and all the family. May Peter rest in peace and rise in glory.
Unless restrictions change, the next meeting will take the form of a Zoom video conference, on Thursday 1 October at 7.30pm. Sue Goodman, our PCC Secretary, will be in touch by email with papers for the meeting. We are still hoping that this year’s APCM can take place in some form on Sunday 18 October after the morning service.
Our congratulations to Louise and Katy as they approach their ordination to the diaconate and priesthood respectively at the end of September. Their dates are still not quite fixed, and current restrictions mean that we cannot support them in person at the Cathedral as we had planned. We shall still be able to celebrate with Katy at her First Mass in church on Sunday 4 October at the usual time of 10.00am.
Katy continues with us to complete her curacy for a maximum of a further three years. Sadly, we say goodbye to Louise, who is to serve her curacy at St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist in Taunton. We thank God for all that Louise has brought to us at St Andrew’s in her time with us. Her last Sunday will be on 20 September.
Our prayers and good wishes are very much with them both as they approach this special time in their journeys of life.
- St Andrews Church
- Greenway Avenue
- TA2 6HU