On the website for St. Mary’s Highley (www.stmaryshighley.co.uk), you will find a virtual service (updated every Sunday), more on our response to Covid-19 and a link to allow you to download the latest edition of the Highley Forum, the magazine for all the parishes in our benefice.
Due to the current situation the producers of the Wheatland News apologies that they are unable to print and distribute in the usual manner. Please click the link below to download a copy of the latest edition.
As we can no longer meet for services or home/other groups, you might find the Church of England webpage on prayer helpful, https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer . I use it every day for morning and evening prayers, where you will find a short order of service, psalms and two Bible readings. There is also a prayer for today and other resources. The psalms selected for Lent and the associated prayers are especially pertinent to the situation we are in.
For those of you who like sung worship, I would particularly recommend Compline from St Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle; you can follow the link on this page https://www.complinechoir.org/ to get podcasts of recent services.
A daily service is available on Radio 4 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wzfs) as well as an 8.00am service on Sunday mornings. Hereford diocese will be doing Sunday services, accessible from their website, https://www.hereford.anglican.org/
Help and support during the Covid-19 outbreak.
We are facing challenging times which are, and will continue, to affect us all over the coming weeks. Some of us will be in need of practical help or support and some of us wish to help meet these needs. Obviously this situation is likely to change as time goes by and we may all need help at some point.
Able to help?
If you are able to help please forward your contact details (name, address, email, phone number) and an indication of what you are able to offer. This may be collecting shopping / prescriptions etc, walking a dog, offering a friendly telephone chat, a daily check or whatever. The more information you provide the better!
Similarly if you are struggling or simply feeling isolated or anxious forward your contact details (name, address, email, phone number) and someone will contact as soon as possible.
In the first instance send messages to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply call 01562 68638 or 07434 882845.
You will be aware that, following instructions from the Archbishops, we have suspended all public services in Billingsley church. This does not mean that the church in Billingsley is suspended. The church building is closed, but the churchyard remains open if you wish to visit it as part of your daily exercise; to pray or simply sit and enjoy its peace (whilst maintaining social distancing!). You may like to reflect on the experiences of past worshippers here. In 1208, all church services (including funerals) were suspended for 5 years as part of a dispute between King John and the Pope. Between 1349 and 1351, around half the population of the entire country died in the Black Death. Some of the faithful departed have experienced far worse than what we face!
That of course, does not make the present any easier to bear. If you have any prayer requests or just want to talk, please email or phone me (or, if you want, post prayers/thoughts on our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BillingsleyChurch/). We are also looking for practical ways to help those who are isolated; please see the separate statement about this. The church is here to serve just as Jesus came to serve; we are concerned for physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all.
There are no simple answers as to why pandemics such as this one occur. All we know is that at the heart of our faith is a cross on which God allowed himself to be hung, but somehow through that act, he released the full power of his love into the world and that love will overcome all in its way. God’s love does not depend on services being held in a building.
David Poyner, Assistant Curate.
D.R.Poyner@aston.ac.uk, tel 01562 68638
Kindly note that services have been put on hold until further notice but the church will remain open to parishioners and visitors. Thank you for your understanding.
The Archbishop has suspended all public church services. Read his statement at https://www.churchofengland.org/…/archbishops-call-church-e…
Compline originated in monasteries; it is last the service of the day and after saying it the monks would immediately go to their cells to go to bed. By the time this article appears, it will have taken place, but if you have never heard of the service, I would encourage you to listen to one of the many recordings you can find on the internet. Sung compline combines said prayers and readings with haunting plainsong; I still vividly remember the impact it had on me when I attended my first service, forty years ago. At Billingsley we have less plainsong (although I hope we managed some in our service) but we do sing a number of hymns that hopefully catch the mood. At the March service, we also welcome a new preacher to the church, Canon Rose Lawley, who has retired as a vicar from Kidderminster to live in Highley.
January and February are quiet months at Billingsley Church as we have only one service a month, an 8.00am Holy Communion. At the January service, the small but faithful congregation was augmented by one of our friends who normally worships at Highley. Everyone is welcome at this service; particularly for those anywhere in the benefice who need to go out during the day on a Sunday, it gives an opportunity to do this and still attend a service. The January service was noted for the coldness of the church, due to a problem with the heating. I am pleased to say that this has now been fixed; many thanks to engineer Barry Valentine for helping us. We are aware that our boiler is old and only has a limited life; whilst raising funds for a replacement heating system will be challenging, we are starting to investigate options.
We are looking forward to the resumption of our 6.00pm evening services, on the second Sunday of the month. In March, (8th), our service will be based around Compline. This originates from the prayers that monks said just before they went to bed; it is made up of readings, prayers and music that allow us to reflect on the events of the day/weekend/week, so that leave in a calm and peaceful state. Today, many call this “mindfulness” and at the university where I work, courses based on it are put on to help staff deal with stress, but it has been practised in the church for centuries.
Another good way of de-stressing is to watch nature in the countryside. Billingsley Churchyard, with its benches (and the porch and church for shelter if the weather turns bad; tea and coffee making facilities available in the church). We manage the churchyard to try and encourage wildlife as well as providing a respectful space for those who have loved ones who are buried in it. At the end of January, we did a bird survey and hope to get a grant for putting in bird boxes. So if you are feeling stressed, just sit in the churchyard and enjoy God’s creation!