St Philip and St James’s church, Grafton Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2DD

Letter from the Team Rector w/b 16 April

Dear sisters and brothers, Wishing you all every blessing this Eastertide! As we were praying on Sunday- the good news that God, in Christ has conquered death and hell- is something which we and our communities need to hear more than ever this year.

Despite our physical separation, I have really enjoyed sharing in fellowship with so many people over these last few weeks. We have sixty joining in Morning Prayer weekday mornings and last Sunday we had 180 different Facebook accounts taking part in the service, probably representing a combined congregation of around 400. Indeed, since Sunday, that service has now been watched 1,500 times and I hope that in the process it has enabled people to glimpse something of Easter joy midst all that is happening.

If you have not yet got online to take part you can do so here:
Watch and pray on Facebook live here

Catch-up later on Pip and Jims website here:

Faith on the Frontline: A livestream video interview with Jade Scholes, A&E nurse
I imagine many of us have enjoyed applauding our NHS and other frontline workers each Thursday evening. This Thursday at 7.30pm we are going to livestream a video with Jade Scholes who is an A&E nurse at Cheltenham, telling us about the realities of life on the frontline and some of her faithful reflections on that.  You can watch it here

Low Sunday: 19th April
This coming Sunday, we have decided to take a breather and so are encouraging people to join in services that others are organising. So you may want to take your pick from the following:
Tewkesbury Abbey 9am BCP Communion service
Or Cheltenham Network Church morning praise at 10am. This will be via a Zoom video conference. If you are familiar with Zoom you can click on this link at 10am and use the password to enter the meeting:  Password: cheltnet20

If Zoom is all new to you, you can find further information here: You can take part on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you are choosing to join by PC please check that you have a webcam, otherwise it won’t work. You will need to download Zoom beforehand. You can download Zoom

You can find a video tutorial here on how to join a Zoom meeting here

Easter 3: Sunday 26th April
We will be having an informal Eastertide prayer and praise service at 10am. More details and an order of service will follow next week.

With the lockdown situation continuing for weeks to come, the Standing Committee have this week made the decision to offer furlough at 100% of salary to Russell and Hannah under the new government regulations. This means that, as of Monday 13 April, they will not be working and not able to continue any duties in connection with their employment with us. Email and phone communications will be monitored by members of the Standing Committee. In future weeks we will have a single email going out each week to the News for the Pews list. We will keep this situation under review and look forward to Russell and Hannah returning to their roles as soon as the situation allows.

Pastoral News:
Please pray for Pat Chicken who has been living with dementia for some time and has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Please hold in your prayers Margaret Cairns following the death of Brian, Stephen Poulton following the death of Shirley and Helen Matthews, following the death of her father Martin who had become a regular member of our 10am congregation.

And finally…
I am attaching a copy of my Easter Day service and a copy of the order of Service for Morning Prayer for Eastertide which we are using 9am every weekday. I hope that these will enable us to continue to allow the message of Easter to sink in. On pastoral matters, as we had feared, we are now seeing an increase in funerals, including several members of our own congregations. Due to health advice these are now short services for a very limited number of mourners. Do please hold in your prayers those who are bereaved and all those involved in these services.

May the light of Christ, rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds!