St Mary's Church

Building a Mission Community

Response to the Coronavirus

Any updates from the church that are circulated will always be the top item.
Please, visit the NHS website for any medical information regarding Coronavirus.



Thursday 9th April

Maundy Thursday material will be on the website in due course.

For Good Friday, Sarah is preparing an audio link of 25 minutes with four short meditations and music to help us. For those who would like to join on Zoom with the meditations, I will be hosting a Zoom call from 2.20 pm with the service starting at 2.30 pm, which will have meditations, some quiet music and a song for us to join in with at the end. (I'll also be sending out hard copies to those who aren't online whose details I have - currently 6.)

Heart4Harlow worship through the week - services on facebook at 10.15 am & a service at 6.30 pm on Easter Day.

Wednesday 1st April

Dear friends,
Please find some contacts/information that may be helpful here:

  1. Harlow Community Hub Helpline This is a partnership between the council and voluntary sector. You can contact them on 01279 927005 between 9 am to 5 pm or email harlowcommunityhub@harlow.gov.uk
  2. Volunteering If you are looking for ways to volunteer in the community at this time you can fill in the form here which will link you with Rainbox Services who are providing a central point for volunteers in Harlow, working with the council and voluntary groups. This will enable you to join volunteers who are helping now with emergency needs.
  3. For those using iPhone or iPad, please download the free 'Zoom Cloud Meetings' app from the app store before trying to connect.

Community Transport Bus Routes are cancelled but they can be contacted on:
Telephone 01992 579556 or 01279 798876
Bookings will be taken:

Let's hold on to our loving God, casting our anxieties on him and knowing that he walks ahead of us.
Bless you all,
With love
Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Thursday 26th March

Dear Friends,
Through these strange times I hope that you are able to keep your spirits up and your eyes fixed on our loving God.

Sunday worship
There will be an audio service similar to last week that people can engage with at any time/their normal service time.

8 am - We will be sending out emails and paper copies of talks to those who attend the 8am.
10.30 am - I am intending to do a service using Zoom at 10.30 am, which people will be invited to join.
6.30 pm - Jane B is putting something together for what would have been 'Deeper still'.

Other resources
A friend of Richard S's has put together a website which has helpful information (including input from Richard) and answers. You may like to have a look here. It can also be found here.

Here is a short video on joining a meeting in Zoom - but it is also easy to set up when you get a meeting invite via email (which will come on Saturday). My dad did it in 5 minutes while I was online with him!

Fruit and veg boxes
Lastly, I have been told Gardners Fresh Produce is a Harlow family catering provider who have switched to selling fruit & veg boxes, milk, eggs etc to the public. It seems the best link to use is the one with information via facebook as their main website just refers to catering supplies. 

Bless you all and let's keep on looking to our God who holds us and walks with us through these challenging times,

With love
Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Monday 23rd March

As the virus spreads and under instruction from our Bishop, we regret that St Mary's has had to close. This includes private prayer and Coffee Shop. For resources to help you, please explore our site further.

Worship tonight:

Andy Douglas is hosting Soaking Worship on Zoom for an hour (8-9pm) every weekday evening this week which you are invited to join. If you click on this link you will be taken to a page where you can register.


Rev Sarah Swift


Friday 20th March

Dear friends,

We are in unknown waters, but we have God with us in the boat! I'm sending this out to all those that I know on St Mary's email. If you'd rather not receive these emails please let me know. I understand that GDPR is not being held on to so tightly through these days so you may get information you weren't expecting or you may find that you're getting information that you would like - and would like more of!

As you will know we are unable to hold services in church and so I have put together a page on the website with ideas and resources that you can access. Bishop Stephen has included a Spiritual Communion service (you can find it in the new Resources page) you can use at home and the PDF document is also attached if you would like to see it. Details about this can be found on the diocesan website or you can find it on the 'Worship ideas - virus' page of our website.

Suggestions for us include praying together the Lord's prayer (or another prayer) at 1 pm and/or 9 pm, joining in worship at your usual service times (an audio link will be available from Saturday evening to a short service I'm putting together) as well as other ideas.

You may want to try WhatsApping your friends or using Skype or Zoom with housegroups.

Sunday is being called as a national day of prayer. Please do pray for the nation at this time. I don't have any resources I can share at this point but if anything becomes available then I will share it tomorrow. The main corporate act is that we light a candle at 7 pm and put it in our window.

And lastly church will be open for private prayer on Mondays 9-11 and Thursdays 6-7 pm for those who would value some quiet space and are able to get out.


May God bless us and hold us together as his family through these challenging times.

With love,
Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Friday 20th March

Dear friends,

We are in unknown waters, but we have God with us in the boat! I'm sending this out to all those that I know on St Mary's email. If you'd rather not receive these emails please let me know. I understand that GDPR is not being held on to so tightly through these days so you may get information you weren't expecting or you may find that you're getting information that you would like - and would like more of!

As you will know we are unable to hold services in church and so I have put together a page on the website with ideas and resources that you can access. Bishop Stephen has included a Spiritual Communion service (you can find it in the new Resources page) you can use at home and the PDF document is also attached if you would like to see it. Details about this can be found on the diocesan website or you can find it on the 'Worship ideas - virus' page of our website.

Suggestions for us include praying together the Lord's prayer (or another prayer) at 1 pm and/or 9 pm, joining in worship at your usual service times (an audio link will be available from Saturday evening to a short service I'm putting together) as well as other ideas.

You may want to try WhatsApping your friends or using Skype or Zoom with housegroups.

Sunday is being called as a national day of prayer. Please do pray for the nation at this time. I don't have any resources I can share at this point but if anything becomes available then I will share it tomorrow. The main corporate act is that we light a candle at 7 pm and put it in our window.

And lastly church will be open for private prayer on Mondays 9-11 and Thursdays 6-7 pm for those who would value some quiet space and are able to get out.


May God bless us and hold us together as his family through these challenging times.

With love,
Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Wednesday 18th March

We regret that Starfishes (Thursday mornings) will be closed tomorrow and for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus.

Rev Sarah Swift.


Wednesday 18th March

Dear friends,

Sunday services Many of you will have seen the notice from the Archbishops that all Sunday services are being stopped and so we won't be meeting on Sunday in our normal way. I am looking into how we can worship together but at a distance and you will get more information in due course. This includes hopefully streaming something from church as well as putting together resources that can be used in your homes for those whose internet reception is not as good or who are not online.

Day of Prayer Sunday is also going to be a National Day of Prayer and we will send out resources about that too. The main suggestion as well as praying, is asking people to light a candle and put it in their window at 7 pm. If you would like to display a poster on Sunday as well here is one that Ian Beckett at H4H has designed.

Volunteering  If you would like to volunteer to help vulnerable or self-isolating people there is a form that you can complete here: https://forms.gle/Mh7DK79VCcQd6jCXA  This route should ensure that volunteers and those being assisted will be kept as safe as possible and will provide the best way of coordinating individuals and organisations in our joint aim to help one another through this challenging period. Ron Kingsmill (Freshwaters & H4H) has been arranging this.

In the meantime, let's keep our eyes on our God who is bigger!

Strange times!

Bless you,
Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Tuesday 17th March

The information and advice around the virus as you know is changing by the day/hour. We are working with the advice that we are receiving - as you can imagine there have been differences in what is being advised.

We will be cancelling coffee shop (though it is open today) and starfishes. I am waiting to hear advice from the Church of England and diocese regarding Sunday services but they will no doubt be in different formats. I am talking to Stephen Long this afternoon to work out what we can do with web and other resources so that we can continue to worship corporately although we may not be physically together. As far as I know and understand the instruction that came out last night was that these measures would be taking place by the end of the week rather than instantly.

We will be cancelling PCC and working out what we need to do by email.

I'll be sending out another email when I have more information including thinking through how we support one another and others through this time. I'm going to a meeting with our MP on Thursday about what will need to be done etc.

In the meantime, please hold on to the reality of God's love for you and those you love and care for. We are in uncharted waters - but we have the God who is above all and will help us through these times.

Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift


Saturday 14th March

Dear All,

I wanted to let you know the steps that we are taking as a church in light of the Corona-virus.

We are keeping up to date with the advice that is coming from the government and the Church of England and will update things as we go along. I'm hoping that we will have something on the website before long but this is a work in progress and subject to change as the impact and spread of the virus changes.

Please follow these as much as you are able to. We have a wonderful God who can do all things, but he calls us to use wisdom and to have regard for the weak, not putting people into difficult situations.

We are taking the following steps:
Please don't touch one another - hugging, kissing, shaking hands, fist bumps etc. We will not be laying hands on people when we pray but will have a hand near anyone for whom we are praying. I know that no contact will feel strange during the peace and sharing the grace at 8am - please bear with it!
Communion - we will only give the bread. I have been asked about using small cups for the wine but this will involve far more handling of things by more people.
Hand sanitisers in church - an order was placed for this last week but it won't be arriving for a couple of weeks as everyone is out of stock. Please follow good hand hygiene. There are more bins around and there will be extra tissues for you to 'catch it, bin it, kill it'. We will not be recycling hand towels.
Refreshments - this is under review and will remain so. We won't be serving biscuits but will be serving coffee after the 10.30 service this week.
If you are self-isolating please let your homegroup leader know (if you are in one), Natasha in the office (admin@stmaryschgate.org.uk) and me (vicarstmarys@aol.com). It will help us to know so that we can take appropriate action.
We are putting contingency plans together so that people will know what to do in different circumstances.

Please do look out for your neighbours, friends and others you know. Make sure you've got friends phone numbers so you can call them to either see how they are or see if they can help you.

As we look at being generous through Lent please also be open to sharing what you have and not stockpiling.

Above all, let's keep asking our wonderful God to reduce the spread, protect the vulnerable and bring healing.

Bless you all,

Sarah
Rev Sarah Swift