Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Parish News magazine was not published in May, June or July.
Little did I think in March that we would live through four months of no church, no parish magazine, no handshakes or hugs, no visits to friends, or to the pub(!); no Village/Church Fete; no Scarecrow Festival.
It has been an extraordinary time of loss and lockdown. None of us knew at the beginning that it would go on for so long – and it is worth reminding ourselves that the virus is still very much alive and thriving out there.
We are gradually returning to a sort of normality – signified by the reappearance of this magazine, but it is very different to the world as it was. There have been things that we have lost – in some cases for ever – but there have been gains as well.
As a community, Pattingham and Patshull has come out of it relatively well. There have been instances of people catching the virus – of course there have – but it has been nowhere near as widespread as it might have been – with the caveat – So far! And while there have been some deaths which it has been difficult to mark as we would have wished, I cannot say that the numbers of those dying has been untoward – if anything there have been slightly fewer funerals than I might have expected during these four months.
Church of course looks and feels very different – no singing for one. As yet I cannot see that we can hold more than one act of public worship on a Sunday – although I am prepared to take a baptism on a Sunday afternoon if people would like one under the limitation of 30 people present only. And in the meantime we have learned (very rapidly!) how to put together “Worship on the Web”. This is our online presence which has become popular with regular and occasional churchgoers alike and has a ‘congregation’ which stretches well beyond our parish boundaries. The Daily Offices of Morning Prayer and Compline I have got very used to sharing almost daily on Facebook – again with a following which has surprised and delighted me.
For the present, the PCC and I have decided to carry on with Worship on the Web but to also share this with those who feel comfortable and able to come to church on Sundays at 10am. We have maintained contributions from a wide range of people (it is certainly not all about the Vicar) and I am very grateful for the efforts of everyone – especially our technical whizzes – to make sure that the services can be broadcast each week – on YouTube, on our Website, on Facebook and Twitter and even by phone for those who lack access to or facility with computer technology. The only difference for those who venture into church is that I can offer them – on most weeks – a simple, said communion following the screening of Worship on the Web.
Another gain has been the outpouring of community spirit that surrounded the setting up of Pattingham Friends which I was very pleased to support and endorse. I think there may be more information about that service elsewhere in this magazine. We have lost out on the fellowship of shared coffee and cake – not to mention Whose for Lunch?, but much practical help and support has been on hand for the vulnerable. And if anyone is lacking help – do get in touch. I am sure we can soon find someone to answer your need.
None of us knows what the future holds – who would have predicted the last four months?! But Pattingham and Patshull will, I am sure, rise to the occasion as it has proved it can do so most ably!
Stay safe and God bless!