Many of you will have become aware that we are unable to meet together for worship and other purposes in our Methodist Churches. This is something that is beyond the experience of many if not all of us.
We cannot say at the moment when things will resume. The implications are great. First, as we journey through Lent we will not be able to be together either for worship, study or prayer. However we are working on alternatives that we shall publish as soon as possible. We hope that there will be regular resources composed by ministers and preachers and other church members that will sustain us in our devotions. Watch out for other services from churches like Westminster Central Hall and Wesley’s Chapel that can be streamed or viewed through ‘You Tube’. The BBC is also going to broadcast a service on Sunday – watch out for revised schedules.
Second, our natural inclination is to come together, shake hands, embrace – talk together and we will need to find different ways of being ‘in touch’. This will depend on people’s familiarity with social media as well as that wonderful invention of Alexander Graham Bell called the telephone! The pastoral networks will be a source of practical and spiritual help through these testing times. Third, it will be no surprise that with organisations not using our premises and no Sunday offerings our income this year will be lower than expected. Some people already give by standing order and that will be very helpful. If others are able to give in this way it will help our cash flow and enable us to be resilient through these next months.
For those who have recently been bereaved there will be implications for funerals – probably family only, keeping numbers down and with memorial services arranged at a later date when this episode is over. For those who have travelled and unable to get back, for those who had travel plans – all this is in the air – or perhaps not!
As a Circuit we shall still be operating in the ways permitted, please get in touch with us in the ways best suited; email, telephone, social media. We shall continue to consult, even if we are unable to meet, in order to share the management of our work and respond to this crisis in the best way we can.
We are blessed with one another, the strength of God’s spirit and the resources of so many people whose commitment to working through these challenges far outweighs the virus itself and the negative attitudes that often accompany it.
A friend sent this prayer for times like this: It doesn’t express all we would want to say but reminds us of the bigger picture and how our perspective is sharpened when we remember others
‘May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those more vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing money through the economic turmoil remember those who have no money at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country let us choose love during this time; when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to all our neighbours. Amen’
Welcome to the Southwark and Deptford Circuit.
A Circuit is the name given to a group of Methodist Churches working together in a given area. There are seven churches across the Borough including Deptford that sits right on the border of Greenwich and Lewisham. The Circuit works in teams with Revds David Markay and Paul Weary sharing responsibility for the work at Walworth Road, Christ Church, East Dulwich and Herne Hill. Two of those churches are Methodist and URC (United Reformed Church) which means that both traditions are expressed in their worship and mission.
Revds David Gillman and Robert Mpanduki work at Deptford and Bermondsey, Peckham and Manor (South Bermondsey). There is distinctive work that goes on in each community – the advantage of working as a Circuit is that we can work together, share good practice and respond to needs that are bigger than any one church. Similarly, we are part of the Methodist London District and often work across London in young people’s and women’s activities.
There is a rich history both in the lives of each of the churches and the areas we serve. We recognise that we are not working on our own – churches of all denominations work together and we partner with other voluntary bodies in projects that benefit the community.
As London continues to develop we are aware that for all its affluence and opportunity there are other stories that need to be heard, genuine voices that must not be silenced by the noise of the city or excluded from what it means to be God’s people. I hope that you will see evidence on these pages of how we are seeking to be a church that is faithful to its calling and in touch with the community around.
We remember in our prayers regularly the local networks of people around us and are committed to the wider vision of peace and justice wherever it takes us.
David Gillman Superintendent Minister.