Welcome to our Benefice

Our four churches: St. Mary’s, Standon, All Saints, Little Munden, St. Catherine’s, Sacombe and the Centre (our church plant in Puckeridge) are all part of the St. Alban’s Diocese within the Church of England. We are united in name and the desire to welcome every person, young and older, into our wonderful community minded church families. Our hope is to help everyone discover who Jesus is, and then to grow in understanding and faith. We have beautiful church buildings, a fantastic Benefice Choir, various styles of worship, partnerships with two excellent Church of England Schools, and a clear Bible based ministry. We believe that our Benefice is a great place to be and great fun to boot. We look forward to welcoming you into any of our activities some time very soon!

Online Services

There are a number of services recorded or streamed live in the Benefice during this time of COVID 19. Details and links to the appropriate social media are on the right.

Summary of Letter

Dear Friends,

Although I sent a letter last week, I thought it would be good to give the headlines as bullet points in case you missed them:

  • Church services in church are cancelled for the time being for safety reasons. This includes funerals (graveside only) and weddings (except in emergencies)
  • Church services are online at 10.30 each Sunday via You Tube on our website, and the Centre at 4.30 via Zoom
  • After the 10.30 service there is coffee “together” via Zoom. The Zoom number is 7691169359 with no password. An invitation will be sent out.
  • Daily Morning Worship has resumed each morning as at the last lockdown. Again it is available on YouTube via the Benefice website

I hope that that brief summary of headlines is helpful!

Blessings

John Chitham, Rector

Another Lockdown

Dear Friends

So, we enter another lockdown! We are praying for the vaccine to be rolled out which seems the only exit from this virus. But beyond that, as Christians, we need to be looking to God, to be learning from Him in these difficult times, and to trust in Him.

Pastoral Care

As we start, we want to ensure that everyone is kept safe and looked after. If the pastoral phone groups, that were very active last time, have lapsed, I will try to make sure they are re-instated. Travelling is once again limited, as is meeting one another, so our electronic communications will be more important than ever.

No live services in Church

The one positive thing for Church communities is that we are allowed to meet together for worship. However, it is not as easy as that. We had an emergency Standing Committee meeting on Tuesday and decided, with great reluctance, to move to online services on Sunday (instead of meeting in person) and to suspend the Tuesday morning service in Sacombe. It also means that funerals will be graveside only.

Why did we do that? I have to say that I was reassured and settled in spirit after the discussion. There was an extremely strong concensus that this was the right decision. There were various reasons. First, we learnt that the virus is transmitting even more strongly than we realise and we need to have regard for the safety of vulnerable people. Secondly, having been already stripped of singing, fellowship and interaction after the service, now we literally should not communicate with one another before, during or after church. This is inhuman and frankly won’t happen. Thirdly, last Sunday we had extremely low numbers: people are already voting with their feet. And finally, something which occurred to me forcibly later, this is actually a good witness. We will be suffering like everyone else and not be seen happily chatting outside church every Sunday morning.

Online service provision

The great silver lining, a provision from God, are the services online. We intend to record ahead of time, to avoid any internet connection problems. Theservices can be on our Benefice YouTube channel, (which can be located via our website www.ubsms.org.uk) at 10.30 on Sundays. To this I am going to try to add an innovation which other churches have found successful. We will, through Zoom, have coffee after the 10.30 service. This will start after the service and you need to log in through my Zoom account number 7691169359, with the password 123456. The Centre continues to be online on Zoom through the same account at 4.30 every Sunday.

To add to that, I will resume the daily Morning Worship that we had in the first lockdown, although this time with a simpler liturgy that will be on screen. I hope that this will help us spiritually during the lockdown. You can access this service as for the Sunday services on our YouTube channel which you can reach via our website. Do give it a try.

I pray that in all of this we will seek God and not succumb to the temptation to drift from Him. Now is the time to pray, read the scriptures and love one another more than ever!

With much love in Christ,

John Chitham, Rector

Advent 2020 Box of Hope

We are all acutely aware that the pandemic of recent months and the restrictions it has brought to the way we live have caused serious and devastating changes to a great many lives.
As we seek to follow Jesus and to show his love and his care in our community, our benefice would like to help.

In partnership with the Red Balloon Foundation, our ministry partners, we will be running our Advent outreach during the whole of December. During that time, we are offering to anyone who is struggling right now for any reason a ‘Box of Hope’. The box will contain essential food and household supplies, as well as a small Christian booklet, and it will be available to anyone in our benefice or on our electoral roll who has need of it. If you’re not sure whether you live in our benefice, there is a map on the Boxes of Hope website at www.rbf.org.uk/ubsmshope.

You can refer yourself or a relative or neighbour by logging into the Boxes of Hope website, www.rbf.org.uk/ubsmshope, or by ringing the freephone number 0800 678 5124 (extension 0) if you don’t have access to the internet.
Your call will be taken by a Red Balloon Foundation staff member. RBF will also be administering the website for us and information about your personal circumstances given as part of the assessment process will not be shared with local benefice members.

If you would like to know more about the scheme, please visit the Boxes of Hope website, or contact Caroline Franks at [email protected]

If you would like to support this initiative financially, details of how to do that are also on the Boxes of Hope website, www.rbf.org.uk/ubsmshope.

Sacombe Remembrance 2020

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Remembrance Sunday 2020, when the Deputy Lieutenant, Mrs Sally Burton, laid a wreath.
Remembrance Sunday 2020 when the Deputy Lieutenant, Mrs Sally Burton, laid a wreath.

Update from Sacombe

We are delighted that St Catherine's has now received a faculty to restore our three bells to full working order which we believe have not rung for at least seventy years. As this is being funded privately it will have no effect on the church's financial reserves.

You may also be aware that we have a faculty to re-order the rear of the church to install a accessible lavatory and kitchenette. This is currently sitting with The Registrar pending legal agreement to run pipework across two adjoining landowners' land.

Derek Wheeler, Churchwarden

A letter from St Mary's Church

Dear Friends

It has been very difficult to do our usual communications during Covid, but we have not forgotten you and have continued in prayer for the village. Since it has been so long since our last letter, I thought it would be good to give a summary of all that we are doing.

Our services

  • Our main Sunday services are taking place in St. Mary’s, Standon, and All Saints’, Little Munden at 10.30 on a two-week rota. These services are also live streamed through our website, www.ubsms.org.uk where our YouTube is available. If you wish to be a member of the congregation, due to the restrictions on people numbers we ask you to contact our administrator Marion Smith ([email protected]). Marion can give you the exact schedule and will book you a place if there is room. It is now compulsory to wear a face covering in Church if you are able to do so. St Mary’s is Covid safe with hand sanitiser available and social distancing in place.
  • We also have our 8.00 am Holy Communion service at St Mary’s on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. There is no need to book for this service.
  • On a Sunday afternoon there is the Centre Community Church which is present on Zoom at 5pm or sometimes meeting in person at 4.30pm. Details of how to access this service can also be found via the website on the Centre Community Church Facebook page.
  • On Tuesday mornings we have resumed the 9.30 am Holy Communion at Sacombe.
  • We are conducting Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals but as regulations change with COVID, so we try to be imaginative about how we help with these services. Please contact me through [email protected] or 01920 739483 (Vicarage) 07495 504433 (Mobile) for further information.

As you can imagine, there is a great deal of effort being put into our services at present. One great joy has been the return of the bells. Sadly we cannot ring a peal, as six people cannot socially distance in the belltower, but we are delighted that one couple, Nic and Sue, are ringing 2 bells on a Sunday.
St Mary’s is open every day during daylight hours for personal prayer or if you just want to visit.

Pastoral care

These last 6 months have been a very difficult time for many of us in our community and we are very aware of the loneliness and isolation that has been a result of this time. We would like you to know that there are many people in the Church family who would be happy to chat or help in any way you might need. Please call or email me or Caroline Franks [email protected] if you would like a contact or know anyone who would. We also have many groups to which all are very welcome; here is a selection:

  • Men’s group
  • Women’s group
  • Small groups
  • Young People’s Bible Study group
  • Children’s and Youth groups
  • Red Balloon Children’s Resources (our partner in our Youth Work ) which includes an interactive Sunday church, virtual groups and materials for families.

For more information about any of these groups and activities, please contact Marion or Caroline (as above).

Looking forward

With Remembrance and Christmas coming up we will be doing all we can to make these festivals meaningful for the village.

Remembrance: We are already working with the police and Parish Council to see what we can do safely and legally for Remembrance Sunday; we will be live streaming a service of remembrance at 10.30am and our website will have all the latest information. Sadly, attendance at the service will need to be by invitation only this year due to current restrictions.

Christmas: We are still working on our Christmas services and these will be announced in PS in early December. But one way or another, either live or recorded or a combination of the two, we hope to have carol, Christingle, Midnight and Christmas Day services. Watch this space.

This is a rather long letter about all that is going on in church life; believe me, there is more, but enough is enough! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.

Best wishes
John Chitham, Rector

Resumption of services in the Benefice

Dear Friends,

I trust that you are well and continuing to be close to Christ.

I am writing to tell you about the next step in the resumption of services in the Benefice.

On Sunday 2nd August we will be meeting in Little Munden for Holy Communion and live streaming from there. As usual everyone will need to book in with Marion. There will be fewer places than at Standon (as the church is smaller) and so book your place early! This perhaps especially applies to those in the Dane End area!

The one difference to our normal pattern this month is that there will not be a service at Sacombe on the fifth Sunday as we cannot live stream from Sacombe (the internet connection is insufficient).
In September we will be looking to return to our previous pattern of services for Sunday mornings, with alternating services during the month at Standon and Little Munden at 10.30am, which will include two Holy Communions and two Morning Worship. There will also be the two 8.00 am BCP Holy Communion services at Standon.

We are looking at our afternoon and evening services, and both have difficulties for different reasons. Evensong will not be resuming until we receive the all-clear again to sing. The Centre also has difficulty resuming in the previous pattern and the Community Centre will not open until September. However during the summer school holidays we are having Sunday picnics in church grounds as long as the weather is fair, and otherwise continuing with the Zoom services. Everyone needs to look out for announcements each week, but perhaps this is in keeping with the nature of the Centre, keeping everything fresh!!

We are also looking into resuming the Tuesday midweek service at Sacombe by seeing the demand from those who usually attend. However, we will not, for the present, resume the Wednesday midweek service at Standon, for a variety of reasons (cleaning, moving of chairs, etc).

Meanwhile you may have seen that face coverings are being strongly advised for all who attend church. In other words, it is not compulsory but is highly encouraged. Those taking part in the service (readers, intercessors, Caroline and myself) will be asked not to be masked whilst speaking, for the sake of clarity in communication. However, we will ensure that we are an absolute minimum of two metres from people whilst speaking. Everything is being done to try to ensure the safety of everyone in church.

Do please continue praying for us. It is a joy to be able to serve here in these strange and challenging times.

With much love

John

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