Holy Communion

This Sunday, 20th September, we will share Holy Communion together for the first time in over six months! This is something that I am very much looking forward to, as it is certainly something I’ve greatly missed over these past months. However, I know that we might all feel a little hesitant, given what is going on in our world right now, so I wanted to make you all aware of the steps we will take to make receiving Holy Communion as safe as possible for everyone:

I will be completely responsible for the bread, which will be gluten free. I will buy it on Saturday and prepare it myself at home, after sanitising all surfaces I’m using. I will wear gloves and a mask to cut the bread into bite-sized pieces, then cover it with cling film. At church, after completing a slightly shorter communion liturgy than normal, I will then put on a mask, sanitise my hands again, then remove the cling film on the bread. I will distribute the bread to each person at their seat, being very careful not to physically touch anyone while distributing (I will do a very short ‘drop’ into people’s open hands, which should be cupped together, if possible, to ‘catch’ the bread). I will be the only person to handle this aspect of the elements.

One of the Communion Stewards will prepare and distribute the wine, again wearing gloves and a mask. There will be glass cups instead of plastic, as glass is more easily sanitised. Each person will take their own cup from the tray. To make sure no-one touches the cup of another person, there will be a gap left between cups. At the end of Communion, you will place the glasses on the floor by your seats, and they will be collected at the end of the service after the sanctuary has cleared.

I hope that this is clear, and I will describe these steps again on Sunday morning to make sure we all know what is happening. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch with me this week. I know that this is a very different way of sharing together in Holy Communion. It may feel strange and a bit clumsy, but I hope that we will all still find great joy in being able to share in it, in some way, together again. I pray that we will all be spiritually nourished by this, although in a different form. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday for Holy Communion!


In my first communication about Holy Communion, I did not mention people who were worshiping with us from home via Zoom. This was because I was unsure of how this would work, as the Methodist Church essentially has a policy against ‘virtual’ Communion because of our theology around Holy Communion.

However, having spoken to Gordon about it, we agreed that people at home may bring their own bread and ‘wine’ to ‘the table’ and share with us in Holy Communion as we are, in fact, one bread, one body, and those at home will be participating in the service and hearing the words of consecration live. So, if you will be joining us via Zoom on Sunday, please feel free to celebrate Holy Communion with us in your homes with your own bread and wine.

Blessings,
Rev. Rachel

The Rainbow

Quickly sprinting towards the rivulet, small brown puddles of mud from where the rain had gathered and soaked through the grass, were overflowing. Soft mint-green dew peppered the field between the rising wood and the hidden stream from last nights storm. Receding clouds moved swiftly away from each other to reveal a patch in the sky so diamond-bright it was blinding to look at. Gingerly, something magical happened. One quick harsh blow of wind slapped at the grass with the intensity of a gigantic hair dryer. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a rainbow that stretched for miles smiled at the field. It was bold and made everything seem so tranquil. Peaceful even. The sky was littered with audacious colours – blood-reds and pumpkin-oranges; sea-blues and amethyst-pinks. A myriad of colours bedazzled the sky.

Written by Caitlin aged 12 (Elizabeth’s granddaughter)

Returning to Church

After five months away from our church building and many Zoom sessions under our belts, I thought I would ask the house groups how they felt about returning to worship in person. Here are a few responses:

I am looking forward to being in church with other people. The podcasts have been good but, living alone, I miss the interaction with other worshippers.

I’m feeling quite dubious, especially as we are going to have to be careful about being too close to others. Also, I’m not sure about not being able to sing hymns, very much part of worship for us. On the positive side, it will be lovely to see others again, and it’s one step further on the road to normality! We have to remain positive, whatever happens.

I can understand people have different thoughts about it. I myself would need to know how it will be done and I know a lot of people will feel like this.  It will be a case of going into the unknown. I think people will feel safer with a structure.

I am still very cautious. I enjoy the links to all the services. So, I think when they do reopen, priority should be given to the seniors who cannot access the website. Also, I will miss gathering for tea and coffee afterwards. I quite often sat in church after the service for ten minutes as I enjoyed the musicians playing.

I am probably a bit anxious and excited to see others again, but pleased to see they have worked hard to set up so that, as far as possible, everyone is kept safe and keeps to COVID guidelines. It will be a shame that we can’t join in any singing yet, but of course we can while watching at home. I am also pleased that should we not be able to get to a service we can watch a podcast or live at home when the event happens.

Gordon’s August Letter

It is a delight to be a small part of your loving and caring fellowship here at Chepstow Methodist Church. Your pastoral team is excellent, prayer and house groups have continued despite lockdown, the podcasts are a real eclectic mix and there is a sense of a real desire to grow Christ’s kingdom in this beautiful part of South Wales. Well done good and faithful servants.

In light of the pandemic and the changes in ministerial oversight over this past 2 and bit years, you really do need to give yourselves a pat on the back. One of many strange things in the Methodist Church is a Minister needing to give, in effect, 15 months’ notice to leave. There is that time of gentle de-coupling and then wondering what’s next. The anticipation of meeting someone new and then having to wait 9 months for them to arrive. All very strange in my eyes!

As you are all aware, it has been a dark and difficult path for Rachel upon her coming to Chepstow. Not through yourselves but through life’s events. Your prayers and support to Rachel and Tom speak volumes for you all. Rachel is starting to emerge into a better place. The Lord is guiding her through the valley she has found herself in and she inches toward that green pasture of God’s promise. We hope that she will be back amongst us all in early September and that she will become the blessing we all desire her to be. I will keep you informed and thank you for your support of me at this time.

We are also planning on re-opening our sacred space. There is a planned prayer and meditation Service on Thursday August 27th beginning at 11.00 AM. I will lead this through. There has been a thorough risk-assessment and it is unfortunate that the maximum number of people allowed to gather is 30. This will be the case, too, when we open on Sunday mornings. This is planned to begin on Sunday September 6th at 10.00 AM with Cliff Randall and his team working on ways to transmit parts of this worship into our homes so that we can all share together. More information will emerge, and the Stewards will let you know of the plans for the Thursday event and the arrangements for the Sunday mornings.

We also need to keep an eye on the future. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is today. We have revisited the past in establishing the Chepstow Missional Hub almost as a replica to the ‘old’ Chepstow and Caldicot Circuit. It is hoped that this much smaller and local unit will be effective in fulfilling our calling of growing God’s kingdom here and now. We have also revisited ‘A Way Forward’, a visioning exercise undertaken by Chepstow Methodist Church under the Rev. Rod Ingrouille.  This time we are to share this visioning with Caldicot Methodist Church in the hope that shared vision and ministry will bring fresh fruit into the lives of our Churches and Chapels as we seek to enable others to know of the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Please do pray for this initiative and we are hoping to start planting this ‘tree’ before the end of September. These have been unprecedented times. The Circuit has reduced to 4 Ministers (there were 7 when the initial amalgamation took place in 2008) and the Circuit has been able to release £44,000 of reserves to help Churches over this last six months and we emerge into an unknown future. As a Circuit Leadership Team, we believe that the Missional Hubs are the way forward for us as a Circuit, and I believe that ‘A Way Forward’ will help the Chepstow Missional Hub in discerning God’s call into his future.  For God is God and he offers these words of encouragement; God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7) Let us trust and obey, and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Gordon

Pink Streak

During Lockdown, feeling a bit low one day I dyed a Pink Streak in my hair (for a bit of fun) and I must admit I was surprised at the reaction, a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!! I sent a photo to my daughter who came back with “I do hope that is a Photoshop Mother and your grand children are not impressed” As I don’t know how to do a Photoshop I informed her that it wasn’t, my eldest sister thought I was “brave”, my great niece thought it was “fantastic” and my friend thought it was very Zandra Rhodes. My granddaughter Ellie saw it as an act of rebellion (which I suppose in away it was) and asked if I was a rebel when I was young (back in the dark ages to Her!!!)

I wouldn’t say that I was a rebel, I didn’t wear a Ban the Bomb badge and I have never been on a demonstration but I was never afraid to speak up.  One day at school a girl ( Janet) in our class was given a detention for talking, to which I piped up saying “that’s not fair miss, Janet wasn’t the only one talking” so Miss put the whole class in detention, as you can imagine I was not very popular that day.  I believe I found my voice after being Baptised at the age of 14 and becoming a member of my Baptist Church where I was encouraged to attend and take part in church business meetings (I don’t think I was allowed to vote at that age).  I have often written to my local councillor and MP of issues and concerns which have resulted in positive outcomes.

Coming into Methodism during the 1980s and becoming a Circuit Steward, attending District Synods and even having the privilege to attend Conference in London,  I have experienced that we all have “a voice” within the Methodist Church.  Our Church stewards are there to listen (they are not there just to put the hymn numbers on the board and show you to your seat on a Sunday) along with the Church Council representatives to any concerns you have and to take them to the Church Council which is the governing body of our church and as there are going to be many changes when we eventually get back together as a Church Family and within the Circuit your voice is valued as “The Body of Christ” as we go forward in love to Worship and serve our Lord in whatever we can.

I think maybe I’ll try a Blue Streak next time !!!!  Kathy

Gordon’s July Church Pastoral Letter

Dear lovely folk of Chepstow.

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. May the peace of God be with us all.

It is such a privilege to be a small part of Chepstow Methodist Church. Your care for each other shines through, and your desire to reach out to others with the love of God in Jesus Christ is striking. As the Superintendent Minister, it is great to see such a beacon of light shining in the Circuit.

This has been a difficult time for the whole world, a difficult time for Chepstow Methodist Church, and a difficult time for your Minister, the Reverend Rachel Frank.

As you are aware, life has thrown many perplexing and arduous things Rachel’s way this past year. The care and support to Rachel from you all has been, and is, much appreciated. Please do keep her in your prayers. The Coronavirus has taken us all by surprise and has drawn us into some dark and fearful places. For Rachel, coming to terms with grief, the virus has not helped in any way. She is in the category of being vulnerable due to a variety of health issues, and has been, rightfully, isolating to ensure safety. With so many varying stressful events I asked Rachel to see her G.P. and take some time away from the stresses of Circuit and Church life. Hopefully, this is for a short period of time and she will regain her energy and enthusiasm and provide the impetus for the next stage of Chepstow Methodist Church’s life.

 In the meantime I am your interim Minister. The Church is blessed by so many capable and caring people. The Sunday podcasts have provided a real lifeline to many and these will continue throughout August under the guidance of Cliff Randall and his team. The Stewards meet regularly, the Property Team are working hard on risk-assessments for the Church as a worshipping community, as a place of outreach and as a community centre. The Finance Committee are meeting regularly at this particularly challenging time for all churches. There is the prayer Chain that is being used, the weekly online Bible study, a weekly Zoom house group and Elena and Kathy are doing a wonderful job in enabling pastoral care to continue, particularly to those in our church who are not connected to the internet.

In my role as interim Minister, I will be praying for you all and making myself available to each of these groups. There will be other matters that arise, I’m sure, and I am grateful for all the prayerful support offered to Rachel and myself at this time.

As a Church we are looking at opening up for worship in the near future. There will be a ‘Plan’ of worship created to begin on Sunday, 6th September. Risk assessments will be carried out for this and more information will follow. There will be only one Service on a Sunday at 10.00 am. This is, at the moment a temporary, but necessary requirement, as we cannot ensure safety of all by having two services. The Coronavirus lingers for 72 hours and without a deep clean between Services the risk is deemed too high. There are plans being developed for this Service to be accessible to people in their homes as we recognise there is a need for this. We also have safety of all at the forefront of our minds and don’t want people to feel an obligation or duty to come to Church, as we can find ways of bringing Church to you where ever you are.

I hope that this temporary arrangement will allow us all to praise God’s holy name together and strengthen us at this time. As we draw closer to God together, the Spirit will bind us close and enable Rachel to return into this lovely, Spirit filled Church and enable us to go forward in growing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. If you have any questions please do contact me on any of the above media and may the peace of the Lord go with us all.
Gordon

Gordon’s July Circuit Pastoral Letter

Dear fellow disciples of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

It was with sadness that we said farewell to Revs. Preben and Ruth, alongside Margaret and Richard, on Sunday. Whilst we couldn’t gather, the Podcast put together by Cliff Randall and his team was wonderful and, hopefully, allowed our four dear friends to know how appreciated they have been and are. We look forward to welcoming them back to the Circuit next year when we can gather and say a personal thank you.

This watershed event is a prompt to bring an update about where we are as a Circuit, and as Connexional Church.

Circuit Meeting

We have not met, formally, as a Circuit Meeting since November. However, the appointed Leadership Team have been extremely busy on behalf of the Trustees of the Circuit Meeting ensuring that safe and legal procedures have been followed through. From advising running taps and flushing toilets, to Safeguarding audits, to agreeing a budget for next year, work has continued. A formal letter went out to all Trustees and we are in a position to move forward into the next Connexional year in September having fulfilled our legal requirements for this year. The CLT are due to meet at the end of August, and we hope to be able to organise a Circuit Meeting as soon as it is safe to do so.

Finances

Roger Langford has worked closely with church treasurers and has gained agreement for next years budget. About £44,000 has been taken from Circuit reserves to assist local churches over the two quarters of lockdown. This has been agreed by the Circuit Meeting. A budget for next year has been agreed. As a CLT, as Synod and as a Connexional Church we are aware of the significant challenges in front of us all. Roger will continue to work closely with church treasurers.

Re-opening of Churches

The Welsh Government has issued guidelines as to the re-opening of places of worship in Wales. These include provision for safe distancing, the numbers of worshippers allowed in a space (currently the limit is 30 max), no communal singing and steps to be taken for the giving of Holy Communion. The Methodist Church gives guidance too. As a CLT we are keen to see our sacred and community spaces open up as safely, and quickly as possible. As such we advise the following:

A/          Each Church/Chapel needs to complete a written risk assessment and demonstrate that they have implemented this before allowing people back into their space.

B/        We recommend that Sunday worship be continued in it’s current format, which is done in various ways across the Circuit. This continuation is until August 30th as we will be planning for Sunday worship from September 6th.  From September it is recommended that there be only one Sunday Service in any given Church.

C/        We recommend that Churches attempt to open for prayer in a corporate way, if desired, on a weekday in August, allowing people to safely access ‘their’ sacred space before formal worship commences on a Sunday from September. This is a recommendation, not instruction, but, for Insurance purposes, we do insist on a written risk assessment being completed prior to opening up.

D/         The Churches can start to plan for community use of their building. The Welsh Government guidelines indicate that they are willing community spaces to be used from Monday August 3rd. Any user group needs to produce a written risk assessment that the local Church Council are willing to agree.

E/        We will try and update Property Stewards of new guidelines as and when they arrive.

Staff Matters

As indicated in my last letter we have brought forward a planned restructuring of the Circuit into 4 Missional Hubs. As such, a local Preaching Plan will be prayerfully compiled in and for each Hub.

Chepstow & Caldicot Missional Hub: Overseer: Rev Rachel Frank

Preben has retired and is moving over the water to Clevedon. We wish him and Margaret all the best. Revs. Joe Rooney and Lin Healey will take pastoral responsibility for Caldicot and Rogiet. Rev Gordon Gresswell for Earlswood Hope/Valley and Penycaemawr, with Rev Rachel Frank having pastoral responsibility for Chepstow and being the Missional Hub overseer.

Monmouth Missional Hub: Overseer: Rev Bethany Willers

Bethany and her husband, Joel, come to Monmouth in August. They replace Ruth and Richard as Ruth takes up an appointment in the Dorset South Circuit, herself being based on the Isle of Portland. Bethany is a MOCC Minister, Minister from Other Church or Conference, in this case the USA Conference. She brings a wealth of experience and we look forward to welcoming, as a Circuit, Bethany and Joel, once it is safe to do so. There is a ‘local’ Welcome Service with the Chair of Synod, Rev Stephen Wigley on Sunday September 6th, that will be, due to safe spacing, by invitation only.

Newport East Missional Hub: Overseer is Rev Les Jones and he is excited about this new venture.

Newport West Missional Hub is myself and I, too, am excited about this and look forward to working closely with Rev Paula Rose Parish and the Circuit appointed Mission Developer, Tim Crahart.

Local Preachers

The coronavirus lockdown has revealed some creative and imaginative ways of worship. It is hoped that the online presence will continue, and people are to be encouraged to use their gifts. Upon re-opening from September, Local Preachers and Worship Leaders will be, certainly for this first quarter, to be as local as possible, primarily in their Missional Hub and certainly in shaping the context of delivering Passionate Worship in their local Churches.

We have not had a Local Preachers Meeting during lockdown. My hope is that we will arrange one for the Circuit when it is deemed safe enough to meet. It may be that the local Missional Hub Local Preachers and Worship Leaders will be able to meet on a more regular local basis sharing creative ideas and helping to shape Passionate Worship in their Local Churches and Missional Hubs.

Circuit Stewards

The Stewards continue to work hard in the background supporting the Circuit, myself and the staff members. They have all agreed to serve another year and Keith Harvey has graciously agreed to stay on as Senior Steward at this time due to a pastoral need. I publicly thank them here on all our behalves.

Stationing

We have no stationing needs at this point. We have agreed to work with 4 stationed presbyters at this point and in light of the uncertainty of the current times, this is a relief.

Synod and Connexion

Conference met electronically and there is a briefing from this available on the Circuit website. Synod has postponed the September 12th Synod and hope to have this in the Spring of next year. The discussion on Marriage and Relationships was postponed at Conference and we await the next steps.

On a personal note can I say a big thank you for all of the prayers, support and encouragement many have given me. I find being a Superintendent really challenging and I appreciate the graciousness in which people cover up my mistakes and offer wise counsel. This has been the strangest of times for us all, and I have heard so many wonderful stories of  God’s grace amongst his people. There is an article in the next Link magazine about the Missional Hubs. I truly believe that this pandemic has shown the value of local over global, and passionately believe this is the right structure for the Circuit going forward. There will be niggles, but, in Christ, we know we are more than conquerors.

Shalom,
Gordon

June Message from Rachel

To the people of Chepstow and beyond:

There is no doubt in my mind that many of you reading this are weary. I know it because I am weary myself. We are now several months into ‘lockdown’, and I know that how we are all feeling now is very different to how we felt when the announcements about ‘social distancing’ first came. Nearly all of us are grieving the loss of something or someone, and being unable to hug those we love the most during these times can take its toll.

We are also seeing a lot of division and tension in these times, including those regarding when the ‘lockdown’ should or shouldn’t be lifted. While I have my own views on these matters, as we all do, I think that what is most important is that we continue to love and show compassion for one another and recognise that a lot of what we are feeling right now is rooted in fear: fear of this virus, fear of losing a loved one or our own lives, fear of not being able to financially recover, fear of what continued isolation will do to our mental health.

Remembering this when we encounter those who disagree with us will help us all to empathise and find middle ground. The other thing that is incredibly important in the middle of all of this is to remember that we are the Church. The Church is not the building in which we meet; it is us, the body of Christ. No matter how long it takes for us to be able to meet in person again, or how long it takes to feel like anything is back to ‘normal’, we can still be the Church in this world, making justice and love for neighbour our top priorities.

We must keep hold of the hope we have and know that we are together through all of this, even if we can’t gather in one place. But even more, God is with us, too.

Blessings,
Rev. Rachel

My Day of Blessings

The ‘novelty’ of lockdown was wearing off. The hot weather gave me the excuse not to go out unless I really needed to, and I was spending too much time sitting slumped in a chair reading a book or fabric painting. Not a good idea for someone with back and neck problems that need regular exercise and to be free from tension. Crafts that I normally enjoy were becoming ‘jobs’ to be done rather than a relaxation and pleasure. I was suffering from a lack of motivation and beginning to feel sorry for myself and not counting my blessings.

Friday had not begun well, I didn’t feel refreshed when I woke up, my back and neck were stiff, and I had a headache. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to have a shower and hair wash or just a shower. Friday is the day I check bank statements etc. It’s easier to pick up mistakes in my ledger weekly rather than monthly, so I decided to postpone shower decisions until that job was done. All went well until one building society would no longer accept my details. They had performed an ‘update’ and would no longer accept hyphens in usernames but had omitted to tell anyone! The phone rang; it was an unexpected call from one of my daughters who had thought I had sounded rather lacking in spirits the previous day. I had a moan about the intermittent problems I was having with my phone line and that I wanted to talk to someone about a minor query I had about my prescription. I didn’t want to be a nuisance and bother the surgery or Pharmacist as they were under pressure. She listened patiently and I felt better for offloading and decided to try to do something about the land line. That’s Blessing number one: – A daughter who cared and listened to me moaning about trivial things.

I could only speak to a machine which couldn’t cope with an intermittent problem, so I tried a ‘Live Chat’. I ‘talked’ to a very helpful gentleman with an unpronounceable name, who much to my surprise, has arranged for an engineer to call on Tuesday morning. He ended the call by telling me to ‘keep safe’ and ‘Blessings’.  That was Blessing number two.

It was now lunch time so I had some food and a sleep to try to clear the headache. I was contacted by the Pharmacy to say that my repeat prescription was ready for collection, so I made the effort to go out and get it. I was handed the packet and a slip asking me to contact the surgery for a medication review. Expecting to have to wait at least a week, I phoned the surgery for the review and was asked if Monday morning would be convenient. That’s Blessing number three

I then received a text message from a friend saying that my name had popped into her mind so she thought she would enquire how I was. That’s Blessing number four

During the morning I had heard a bang on my kitchen window and realised that a bird had flown into it. I didn’t investigate and forgot all about it until evening when I was watering pots on my patio and saw a dead baby sparrow; its underside was still fluffy. I felt rather sad about it and was reminded that God cares about every sparrow that falls. I couldn’t remember where the verse was so went online to look it up and a passage from a commentary came up. In Biblical times sparrows were looked on as pests, a nuisance and worthless. So that verse shows how much God cares about us and all of His creation. God cares about me and my small concerns just as He cares about the death of the baby sparrow. I couldn’t just put it into the dustbin, so I buried it and thanked God for His love and care. So, what started off as a miserable day was really a day full of Blessings.

Written by Joy Wilson

June Letter from Gordon

Dearest folk of the Newport and Lower Wye Methodist Circuit.

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. Grace and peace be with you all.

June arrives after the sunniest May on record. Hope your gardens look lovely and your homes sparkling as we have needed to stay in them. It has now been twelve Sundays since our last opportunity to be worshipping God together in our church buildings. We have guidance about the safest way to open once the go ahead is given, and, as a Circuit Leadership Team, we have been working hard on many differing aspects of Church life. This letter is an update of where we are.

Worship

We have tried to keep us all connected in sending out, electronically, a daily worship sheet, and by post a Sunday worship sheet. A thank you to all who continue to contribute to this venture. Different Churches in the Circuit have also provided on-line and paper worship, as well as blogs, prayers, insights, and stories.

Chepstow have a weekly on-line Service you can access through their website, and regular prayerful blogs. St. Julian’s have a weekly Service you can take part in on a Sunday through You-Tube. Monmouth have a weekly Service on-line as does Trinity. All of these are accessible on the internet, and please feel free to check these out. There are also many others from around the whole world you can find in this on-line universe.

When collective worship is available there are several things we will need to consider:

Church /Chapel safety: We have guidelines on how to make our worship spaces as safe as possible and these general guidelines will be sent to every Church/Chapel to follow through, as well as possible local knowledge that maybe required.

People safety: We recognise that there will be worries about resumption and that there may be other considerations such as we are not allowed to sing. In light of this we will be keeping, initially, any worship events as local as possible. Ministers, Local Preachers, Worship Leaders, and Stewards will be in their own Churches/Chapels, as much as possible to minimise risk. We will be working with Churches/Chapels to find solutions where this is more difficult.

The consequence of this is No Plan again for this summer quarter. We await guidelines as we look ahead to the beginning of a new connexional year beginning in September.

This also means that we will not be able to gather together to say thank you and farewell to Preben and Margaret Andersen nor to Ruth and Richard Lownsbrough. What we will be doing, however, is an on-line tribute as a Circuit and I will be co-ordinating this. I will be speaking to some people but if you would like to say something and be involved in stories, prayers, thoughts for any of these fine folk please do get in touch with me using any of the media in this letterhead. We plan to invite Preben and Margaret, Ruth, and Richard back to the Circuit next Spring where we can say a heartfelt thank you and show our appreciation to them with appropriate gifts.

We are to be blessed with the arrival of Revd. Bethany Willers, with her husband Joel. They will be coming to Monmouth for September. Bethany is a MOCC (Minister from other Churches or Conferences) and is from the USA. Bethany and Joel are currently in Notting Hill and hope to be in Monmouth by the end of August. The magnificent Monmouth people are already swinging into action to welcome them both as best they can, but we will not be having a formal Circuit Welcome Service in September, but will await a future date when all is safe. Bethany and Joel will create their own ‘get-to-know-us’ once they arrive in Monmouth.

Finance and Administration

We recognise that this has probably impacted Churches/Chapels. Not meeting without an offertory and not having rental income are just two factors that we recognise is probably making treasurers lives more difficult than usual. Roger Langford, as Circuit Treasurer, is doing a stirling job keeping in touch with Church Treasurers. We have some proposals, as a Circuit Leadership Team, and these will be discussed at a ‘Zoom’ Treasurers Meeting on June 11th.

Alongside this we need to agree next year’s budget. This would normally be done at a Circuit Meeting. We are not going to be able to meet, in person, for a Circuit Meeting for a while. The Circuit Meeting Trustees will be contacted with any proposals and we are hopeful that we can find consensus going into our uncertain future. We will be in touch with the Church Representatives very soon.

In a similar vein, the Wales Representative Synod that is due to take place in September will also be postponed and will, hopefully, take place in the Spring of 2021. This will probably involve the discussions we have been having around Marriage and Relationships, as Conference, this year, is to take place electronically and this is not one of the items for discussion.

Please also note that the Revd. Alexis Mahoney, who candidated out of Caldicot Methodist Church and is stationed in Cardiff, will come into ‘Full Connexion’ at this Conference. His Ordination, however, will take place at a date further down the line.

Superintendent bit

Christian faith, it has been said, owes a lot to the Stoics, a Greek philosophical idea from about 250 BC which became prominent in Roman thinking around the time of Jesus. From my reading of you all, you are being wonderfully stoic. The support networks in Church have been a pleasure to be part of and to hear of. We have had folk in hospital, and some who have passed on to be with the Lord, yet I have heard no grumbling and much love and wisdom expressed. Thank you for the encouragement all of this has given me.

We will ‘wake-up’ to a similar, but different world. Alongside colleagues and the CLT we are seeking to discern how we go forward as relevant Church in these circumstances. The word LOCAL keeps cropping up. Please pray into this word and may God bless us as we seek to grow His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Stay safe, until we meet again. With love and prayers in Christ

Gordon

June 1st 2020