Message from Bishop Rachel
As we continue our journey through Holy Week, we are aware of how strange it is, and probably unlike anything we have experienced before. That sense of navigating new territory is exactly what Jesus’ first followers were doing in those days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. As we move into Holy Saturday and live that space between the pain of crucifixion and the joy of resurrection, perhaps this year it will feel even more poignant as we long for the breaking in of new hope and freedom in our country and across our world. Yet Easter day will dawn and although it might come at a painful point when infection and deaths from Covid-19 are peaking, the resurrection cannot be undone, and Christ’s hope, love and light remains certain amid all that is uncertain.
Throughout this week, worshipping communities will be entering into prayer and worship in a number of different ways and I hope that what is being offered by the senior staff team will be a gift and encouragement to you.
Since Palm Sunday there has been a daily thought from one of the senior clergy posted on the website and social media. On Maundy Thursday at 11 am there will be an act of worship during which I will give my charge to the Diocese; and clergy, Readers and licensed lay workers will reaffirm ministerial promises as we celebrate the whole people of God being summoned in baptism to witness to God’s love and to work for the coming of God’s kingdom. Members of congregations are warmly invited to attend the service. Details for joining the Zoom service can be found here. The footage of the live event, including my sermon, will then be available on the diocesan website and social media channels from midday on Maundy Thursday. Subtitles will be available, but not immediately as the video is released. It is already possible to download the order of service.
On Good Friday there will be a dramatised telling of St John’s account of the Passion available on our website and social media accounts. This has been produced by the staff team.
On Easter morning at 7 am I will stream a Eucharist from the drawing room at Bishopscourt (so as to be in solidarity with all those who do not have access to chapels and church buildings). This service will begin with the lighting of the Easter candle and will include a renewal of baptism vows. You are also invited to light a candle or put on a representative light. People will be encouraged to make their spiritual communion and a simple prayer will be provided. To access the service you will need to join via the Diocesan Facebook page or Twitter. The order of service will be available to download from the website in the next couple of days. For those who do not have access to Facebook or who would like to join in the service later in the day, the service and my sermon will be available to view on the diocesan website from about 8 am onward on Easter day.
I would also like to draw your attention to the wonderful resources which have been produced specifically for children, families and households as well as all the rich material for young people.
All of this information above is available on the website and I invite you to share it with people in the wider community as we take every opportunity to share the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection in households and homes across our diocese.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone living out Christ’s love and hope in so many extraordinary ways. It is of course dangerous to start naming specific people and roles but perhaps this week in our diocese we might particularly remember those in front-line services, and in particular our chaplains in hospitals and prisons.
Last but not least, I join with the staff team in asking you to set aside time this week to pray. I have been particularly inspired by those worshipping communities encouraging people to pray at specific times throughout the day and praying at the same time in their homes, as well as those where there is now an unbroken chain of prayer around the clock with different people praying at different times. In the midst of all that we are living in these extraordinary days the most significant thing we can do is pray.
May you encounter Christ’s love and grace in extraordinary ways this Holy Week – and I join with Bishop Robert in wishing you a hope-filled Easter when it comes
With my thanks and prayers as ever,
Community support and working together
Can you help us feed people in need?
The Diocese of Gloucester is working with The Long Table to get food to those who need it during the Coronavirus pandemic. We now have new contact details for people to order food in Stroud District, Cheltenham, Gloucester, the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury and the Cotswolds. All dietary requirements catered for.
Please share this leaflet with those who may need meals, tell your friends and share on social media.
Download this flier to see how you can support this project by donating.
Listen to Ian Meredith from Roots Cafe talking about the project on BBC Radio Gloucestershire from 3:18 into the show
Jess Rudge-Welford, Operations Manager from Young Gloucestershire spoke to Richard Atkins on Radio Gloucestershire from 3:09 into the show.An update from the diocesan safeguarding team
This update includes guidance on supporting those experiencing domestic abuse, training requirements during this time of physical distancing and some helpful links, as well as the details for getting in touch with the team with any safeguarding concerns.
Pause on grants
The Charities Aid Foundation Coronavirus Emergency Fund has paused applications from charities. They are looking to expand the fund and hope to reopen when they have additional money. You can sign up to their email updates and be the first to know when they reopen applications.
Update regarding rough sleepers
Gloucester City Mission is temporarily closed down on the advice of the local authority and anyone sleeping rough in Gloucester has alternative emergency accommodation. The only people still out on the streets are now those who are choosing not to engage with any emergency provision – this can be for a range of reasons. If you are concerned about someone visit Streetlink.
Gloucestershire community help hub
Gloucestershire County Council has created a new online hub, which is collating all the support people are providing in our communities. This then helps the district councils find the community support needed for those most in need. They are also asking for volunteers to sign up to be called on if needed. This is really important information and we know our churches are actively helping so please do sign up has an excellent Covid-19 community information help hub. Please do add your events to the Community Help Hub and also send the information to so we can help provide a coordinated response across our diocese and add information onto our own online hub.
You can also sign up for the weekly Know Your Patch email and the Your Circle local networks which give local roundups. They exist for Gloucester, the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Cotswolds and Stroud.
Resources to use and share
COVID-19, supporting people with dementia
This guide from the Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust has some practical steps for family and friends supporting people with dementia, including tips on managing social isolation and managing your own well-being as a carer. Please do share this with people who may be in this situation.
You can download the Holy Ground resource and you can find more resources for Growing Together on the Children, Youth and Families pages of the diocesan website. Please do share this with your congregations.
Praying with nature
Daily walks have become treasured possessions so why not offer your up as worship? This Praying with Nature at Easter resource brings together ideas and prayers to enhance your exercise time.
Youth ministry resourcing
Illuminate Stroud is creating a weekly youth ministry blog. This week Barrie Voyce shares Resources for Youth Ministry online.
PSALMS Holy Week Bible studies
These engaging Bible study resources have been produced by the PSALMS team for young people (and older people too) to use during Holy Week.
Thine be the glory in the Badminton Benefice
The Badminton Benefice are asking people to sing Thine be the glory at home and send it in for their Easter Sunday broadcast. Get full details of how to take part in this video.
Church Print Hub
The Church Print Hub is continuing to print and distribute life events resources including the resources designed to support churches and bereaved families through the Coronavirus pandemic. Resources include Light a Candle posters, reflection and Bereavement cards and prayer cards, and reflecting at home service sheets. Churches pay only postage and packing.
The Cheltenham Network Church produced this brilliant Palm Sunday news bulletin which you might want to share across your church’s social networks.
St Catharine’s Church has been connecting with the hospital chaplains at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and have some specific prayer requests from the staff there.
Courage to keep working and caring in the face of personal fears and increased workload
The ability to offer the care and support patients need when they are unable to see their own family and friends
That there would be enough protective equipment to keep them safe
Strength to keep going
Space to draw on their own faith (whatever that is) and for staff with no faith to not feel like they are facing this alone
That the spread of the virus would be contained so that staff are not overwhelmed
The ability to make good decisions in tough situations
That people would celebrate, appreciate and feel proud again of the wonderful NHS
You can sign up to #prayforGRH at www.24-7prayer.com/signup/d7840a They are looking for people to pray for an hour with the aim of keeping the prayers going up around the clock so that staff and patients are never alone. It might feel daunting to pray for an hour, but you might just want to sit somewhere quiet, light a candle and be still.
Please pray for all in leadership in this country – for Boris Johnson in hospital and for Dominic Raab seeking to deputise for him.
Prayer is needed for all the people preparing and delivering food through the Feeding the 5,000 project, for all those that receive the food and for those that are building community connections by sharing with their friends and neighbours.
Information and training
Apologies that some people may currently be receiving duplicate copies of the Bulletin. We’re working to resolve this issue and hope to have lists correct by the end of the week. Please don’t unsubscribe, as this is a vital way to keep you up to date with information during this time of physical separation.
Sign up for digital webinars with the national Church of England’s digital team. If you feel you need some support before feeling confident online these free webinars will help equip you to keep your church connected digitally. There are lots more excellent digital resources online – sign up to their newsletter here.
Coaching for those in ministry
As the conditions of ministry change rapidly, if you would like a conversation with a trained coach to help you ‘think through your stuff’, whatever that might be, then please contact " class="broken_link">Ian Bussell and he will match you up with someone who will be able to help you.
The Revd Anthea Beresford, Associate Priest of Cinderford with Littledean Benefice will be leaving on 30 June.