Letter from Dean John
Published on Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:30
Dear parishioners of Burton Leonard and Bishop Monkton,
I was very pleased to be able to share with you Bishop Nick’s announcement of the appointment of a new house for duty Associate Priest for your two parishes. The Revd Robb Wainwright is currently serving as Team Vicar in Tenby, Wales, and will be licensed on Monday 5th October at 7.30pm. The practical details of that will be sorted out in due course, following government guidelines for acts of worship. Please, do pray for Robb and his wife Lindy as they prepare to make the move, and for us as we prepare to welcome them into these two wonderful communities.
I would normally tell you a little about Robb’s background at this juncture, but I have asked him to do that for himself. He was keen to write to you all soon, so that seemed sensible. His letter will be published on the website on Sunday, Trinity Sunday.
As I mentioned in the short video which was put on the website yesterday, I have been very impressed by how people in these two communities have come together to support each other through the months of the COVID-19 lockdown. Speaking on Pentecost Sunday (Whit Sunday) when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit fifty days after Easter, I mentioned that this mutual support seems to me to be a sign of the Holy Spirit at work amongst us. This care for family, neighbours and sometimes complete strangers, has been a bright light shining through the dark days of the Coronavirus pandemic. We know it is not over yet, but hopefully this community-strengthening experience will have a lasting influence.
As you may know, the Revd Caitlin Carmichael-Davis, the cathedral curate, has been providing pastoral oversight for these two parishes while there has been no priest residing in them. I have had messages of appreciation from a good number of people who have appreciated her phone calls during lockdown. I know that others, including churchwardens, have also been phoning and supporting people. Caitlin has been helped ably and enthusiastically by the Revd Jeremy Trigg, for which I am extremely grateful. Caitlin will now continue to provide this ministry of pastoral care and oversight until Robb is licensed, working with wardens and other lay leaders to ensure that the churches sustain prayer, worship and practical ministry as we emerge from the restrictions.
We cannot plan with absolute certainty for the process of emergence, knowing that if the spread of the virus increases, greater restrictions may be re-introduced by the government. We do hope, however, that churches will be open once again for public worship from 5th July. We are beginning to plan for that to be possible with our two churches, ensuring that they are cleaned thoroughly in advance and that worship is offered in a way that respects the need for social distancing. I want to assure you that we will only open the doors if we are confident that people will be as safe as is possible.
One thing that has become more obvious to me over recent months is how many people have grown in their awareness of, and trust in, God. I say this on the basis of the many messages I have received personally and from an impression gained from reports and articles in the media. The evidence from our streamed services suggests the same conclusion. Not only have we been able to support the prayer and worship of ‘regulars’ but have also found ourselves to be ministering to a growing ‘on line’ congregation. My hope, then, is that when the church doors are open once again for the people of the parish, those who have gained strength from a sense of God’s presence with them – and those who have been prompted to explore the possibility of faith for the first time or in new ways – will know that they are always very welcome. They (you?) are welcome both for private prayer and for services; and if you wish to have a chat with someone about any of this do not hesitate to be in touch with Revd Caitlin, or with me through her.
For the meantime, please be assured of my prayers very best wishes for everyone in Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard
Please click HERE to access a video of the announcement.