To the St. Helen's Church Community,
Just before Christmas, Bishop James messaged all of the churches in Rochester Diocese to set out guidance for churches if they wish to shut at this present time with high infection rates and hospitals at the point of being overwhelmed.
With the announcement that primary schools in Medway are to shut for an initial two week period, it made no sense to me that churches could open yet schools couldn't.
Therefore, I have made the decision, and I am grateful for the overwhelming backing of PCC, to close St. Helen's for Public worship after the service on 3rd January. This will be for an initial 2 week period and will be reviewed on the 18th January.
I understand that this will be a disappointment to some of you as coming to church enables some form of social contact during the week. I would urge you, if you are feeling lonely or cut off during these next couple of weeks to make contact and either me, or someone else, and we will gladly talk to you and give you the support that you need.
Our Youtube services will carry on as per usual
Do you need prayer?
If at any point you do need prayer for anything, great or small, then do please call me (221489), or email me and it will be my pleasure to pray with and for you.
Part of the historic role of the Rector/Priest-in-Charge of Cliffe Church has been to be a permanent member of the St. Helen’s Primary School governing body. This can, at times, be quite an undertaking and commitment and I’m amazed at how many news things I have had to learn over the past three years! It is also a real privilege to be part of a fantastic and caring community which is faithfully and lovingly served by the different staff and volunteer governors.
Part of our role recently has been to begin a conversation about an overarching Christian vision for the school. For a few years the school has had a set of Christian values (friendship, love, perseverance and trust) but now the diocese has asked for a vision into which we can pin these values. This vision will then become the basis by which we judge ourselves as a school.
Now you might think that a school vision should centre on academic success or sporting prowess but as a Christian school, we wanted to go beyond that. Not every child is going to be an `academic success` and neither will all of them be great at sport – does that mean they are somehow failures? No! Our Christian vision instead looks for something everyone can aim for:
“Loving God and neighbour” (Matthew 22:34-40)
One of the most crucial things in life is to know that you are loved. When you know you are loved unconditionally and valued for who you are it enables you to grow and flourish in all sorts of ways.
The Bible teaches that God loves each of us unconditionally – there is nothing we can do that will make God love us any more or any less. To “Love the Lord your God” isn’t about sticking to a set of rules. Instead it is about looking to make a positive difference in the world we live in. For example, God has given us a wonderful world to live in. Loving God means caring for his creation and seeking to pass it onto the next generation in a better state than which we found it.
Loving God also involves loving your neighbour. Our neighbours aren’t just the people around us who look like us and think like us, they are also the people who are different from us. As we all know, this can be a challenge! At St. Helen’s school we want children to feel valued and loved by each other whatever their background, gifts, skills and abilities. We recognise that God has created each of us uniquely and every one of us can bring something positive to our community.
As we move into a time of reflection during Lent, these are words that all of us can think upon and embody. What has God done to show his love for us? How can I reflect that love through the way I live in the world? Who can I be a loving neighbour to?
Maybe this vision can go beyond just the school and instead be embodied in our whole parish…