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


Team Rector’s Address – Sunday 8th November 2020


Dear sisters and brothers

With the announcement of the second lockdown taking effect this week, I’m afraid quite a few of our plans are having to change! I wanted to drop you a line with a few updates…

Lockdown and Worship across the Team:

As some of you will know, I have been meeting with colleagues to enable us to offer online worship broadcast from one of our Churches each week.  This Remembrance Sunday our service will be coming from St Peter’s, Leckhampton.  Rev Gary Grady will be leading the service and Rev Eddie Carmichael will be preaching.  This will replace all public worship which is not permissible under the new lockdown legislation.  Please find attached a rota that will give you an overview of what is happening over the next few weeks.  Orders of service will be circulated by email with weekly notices.  You can join in this worship every Sunday at 10am by visiting www.facebook.com/pipandjims.

Zoom Worship with CNC:

This second lockdown also gives us an opportunity to explore differing styles of worship and I am delighted to say that Rev Sarah Haden at CNC has offered a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join with them for their 10am Prayer and Praise gathering.  All are warmly welcome to join – whether CNC is your usual place of worship or not!  In timely fashion, this Sunday Hanna Stürcken will be continuing our series on lament, thinking about ‘why it is normal to miss incidental run-ins’!  If you would like further information about this do please email Sarah at sarah@cnc.church.  You can join in with this by following the link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/952597788?pwd=ZHM1aTdNTHJORDI2dEtaa1huV3h6dz09

Password: cheltnet20

Morning Prayer:

I also wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that we are gathering together on Facebook for Morning Prayer at 9am every weekday morning and that this is an opportunity to share your own prayers with others.  At the moment, we have around 40 people gathering for prayer and, thanks to the internet, there’s room for a lot more!  As ever, you can join at www.facebook.com/pipandjims.

 6pm National Prayers:

For 28 days starting this Thursday people across the country will be committing to pray every evening at 6pm.  User-friendly resources are available here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/call-prayer-nation

Cathedrals will ring their bells at 6pm as a call to prayer and if you have the capacity to ring a Church bell at 6pm then please do join in.  Phone alarms can also be effective!  Children and adults alike might like to switch on a torch as prayer is offered – a reminder of the light shining in the darkness.  Amid our lament and hope; longing and trust, we will proclaim that we are held in the unchanging love of God who hears our cries and walks with us through both our laughter and tears – God is with us.

Advent Reading:

Looking towards Advent, you may be interested in recommendations from Fr Peter Quinnell of three books which you may wish to explore:

Frequencies of God: Walking through Advent with R S Thomas by Carys Walsh

Carols from King’s: The Stories of our Favourite Carols from King’s College by Alexandra Coghlan

Advent for Everyone: A Journey with the Apostles by Tom Wright

Happy Reading!

Looking for a Lockdown Project?

I’m also really excited to report that we are working together with Sarah at CNC to organise ‘Advent Windows’ in Cheltenham for December.  This is a fantastic, creative project which might be quite a useful activity for a quiet Saturday.  I attach a poster with all the information on it!  Do feel free to encourage neighbours and local friends to get involved as well – the more advent windows the better!

The Big Crib Blessing:

Meanwhile, we are still planning our Big Crib Blessing to take place at St Peter’s on Christmas Eve – Government legislation allowing!  If you would like to be involved as a steward, singer, or actor do you please get in touch with sarah@cnc.church.

 Team Council Away Day:

As some of you will know, we were planning to have a larger Team Council away day in a couple of weeks.  With the new restrictions, this is no longer going to be able to take place but we have rescheduled that meeting for the morning of Saturday 27th February.  Those conversations will be facilitated by Rev Canon Andrew Braddock, our Director of Ministry and Mission.  There will be four representatives from each of our Churches, plus ministers. We hope that this will be an opportunity to review some of our learning from lockdown, to talk about how we wish to see our Team grow and develop over the coming years, and to begin to develop a new strategic plan.  For more information about this, do speak to your South Cheltenham Team representatives.

With my love and prayers

Rev. Nick Davies