The Church building will be CLOSED for WORSHIP on Sunday - Updated 16 October 2020
All can access the live streamed service on Zoom up to 30 minutes before each service by logging on to http://hindestreetonlineworship.org.uk/ . Select this this link also for video recordings of services since Sunday 22nd March 2020. Please scroll down to below the Zoom instructions to see the recordings.
**Please do not travel to the building.**
Midweek groups (e.g. 12 Steps / Wednesday Club) that are already booked in, will continue to meet.
It is with sadness that we have decided not to open the church building for public worship this week. We have taken the following advice from the London Methodist District.
Following the latest Government advice … that London will move from Tier 1 restrictions to Tier 2 restrictions as from Saturday because of large increases in transmission rates across areas of London, this will mean that there are new restrictions on people mixing between households.
Although strictly this does not mean that meeting for worship is prohibited, even in Tier 3, it is our very strong recommendation as District Chairs that churches do not open for worship when the rate of positive cases is high. Just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should.
To read the whole message from the Chairs, please follow this link.
In the light of this statement, we felt asking people to travel would not be appropriate. We are, however, hoping to stream the service from Hinde Street to maintain a sense of being in our beautiful church.
We hope that you will join together on Zoom, on the phone or on YouTube, as we enter a new stage in this most strange year. What is important, is keeping faithful in worship, praying for each other, our communities and for the world in this challenging time. We will keep you updated via Weekly and our website as we progress in the coming weeks.
If you would like help in accessing the worship, please contact Peter (07366 023140).
May God bless you all.
Peter Cornick and Richard Shepley.
Do look at the link to the District prayer diary which this week, features the West London Mission.
Re-opening Hinde Street for Lettings - update 14 September 2020
Hinde Street acknowledges the frustration and disappointment caused by this delay in reopening the church. Whilst we acknowledge that anonymous group meetings are exempt from the ‘rule of 6’ there remain some other reasons that are delaying our opening. We are now working towards opening on Monday 5 October. Further information and booking forms will be shared as soon as possible.
We sincerely apologise for this disappointment
Re-opening Hinde Street for Lettings - update 10 September 2020
We appreciate how keen so many groups are to return to meetings at Hinde Street Methodist Church. We had previously said that the church would be reopening for groups on 14 September 2020.
However, in light of the government’s announcement yesterday about it being against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 from Monday 14th September, we are postponing the reopening of the church. It is clear that there will be exemptions for example for education, however it is not clear yet about other groups including anonymous groups. We are awaiting the publication of the government’s legislation to provide further clarification on which groups are permitted to meet and will contact you again next week with further news.
An update from the Superintendent Minister - update 10 September 2020
Last Sunday, we were pleased to be able to return to the church building for worship, as well as continue worshipping via Zoom (online and on the telephone) and YouTube. I am grateful to the many people who made worship possible, in various forms, in a very short time. Apologies go to those on Zoom, some of whom were unable to hear parts of the service. Our technical team have been working on solutions and you will appreciate the challenge of streaming the sound in church to Zoom. We are all learning.
The government announcement on Thursday 9th, limiting social gatherings to 6 (‘rule of 6’), is not applicable to religious worship. The terms on which we returned to church last week remain the same. (It is still unclear how the ‘rule of 6’ will effect weekday ‘groups’. Prior to the government announcement, the Stewards had delayed the re-opening for ‘groups’ until October at the earliest. This is to enable the correct staffing and logistics to be put in place. All groups are being contacted with the updated conditions).
The new restrictions brought in by the government, remind us that whilst we are still able to worship in the building, COVID-19 has not gone away. How we behave on Sundays will make a difference to how long we can continue to use the building and to the transmission of the virus.
I am grateful to you all for adhering to the rules last Sunday with good grace and common sense. When you attend the church building and see people for the first time, it is tempting to hug and get closer than 3 feet (whilst wearing a mask) – or indeed, to remove the mask and be closer than 6 feet – 'lead us not into temptation'.
Remember, love your neighbour: stay socially distant! Your deeds might save a soul!
Return to Hinde Street building - 17 August 2020
We intend to worship in the church building on Sunday 6 September at 11am only. The service on that day will also be on Zoom, accessible in the usual way. The Church Council wanted to ensure that everyone is provided for - whether you wish to travel to Hinde Street, or feel it is still safer to stay at home. Please note that if you do drive in to church, there are now both ULEZ and Congestion Charges on Sundays. You will understand that the situation could still change, so please check in Weekly or on the website. For those returning, please also be aware that there will be a number of Covid related restrictions - including that masks must be worn in places of worship.
Other groups in the church building will start (at the earliest) from Monday 14 September. Again, this is subject to change, and there will be Covid related restrictions. Please check with the Church Office about any particular groups.
We are pleased that the Wednesday Club has begun again - serving our friends on the church steps
A message from the Superintendent Minister - 25 June 2020
The government have announced that churches may resume worship from 4th July – without singing!
This is a much swifter and fuller resumption than ‘the grapevine’ was anticipating. However, there remain significant ambiguities to understand. For example, it is not at all clear what numbers can meet. The Methodist Church has assured us that further guidance will be issued regarding this third stage of the easing of lockdown. I am not expecting this until after the Methodist Conference, which is meeting this week.
The Methodist Church stress that risk assessments need to be carried out and it is for the managing trustees (the Church Council) to assess when it is safe and suitable for a church to resume worship. They further stress that managing trustees should not feel pressurised into re-opening. There are many factors to be taken into consideration. The stewards have been preparing risk assessments, but it takes time for all concerned to reflect on these and to put the necessary precautions in place, as well as to ensure communication and training has happened. The government have lifted restrictions. The scientific community are vocally more cautious. We should not rush to meet for worship or groups until we have properly heard the measures being put in place and have reflected upon them.
Therefore, I, with Richard Shepley, our Senior Steward, feel the most appropriate action would be to present the risk assessments to the Church Council, meeting by Zoom on 26th July. We can then come to a mind on a suitable phased and cautious return date for worship and groups in the church building, having heard the concerns and practical implications raised by members of the church.
We will continue to worship on Zoom until we resume worship at Hinde Street. Following the resumption, we will be making an on-line facility available, building on the success of the last three months in attracting people from far and wide. We also recognise that not everyone will be able to get to Hinde Street for some time to come. Indeed, those for whom it was impossible to travel prior to the lockdown, have appreciated the on-line experience.
So, as we prepare to exit the lockdown situation, please bear with the staff and stewards. We are all working hard to put in place worship and activities which conform with the restrictions and above all, keep our members and guests safe.
May God bless you,
A message from the Superintendent Minister - 18 June 2020
This column started at the beginning of the pandemic, trying to observe where we might find God in an alarming situation where many were experiencing suffering. It has, I think, offered a way in which Weekly can comment on the world around us and our response as people of faith, whether that be to a crisis, an issue such as racism, or indeed the more mundane events and the ordinariness of life. Several people have contributed and Helen Cornick does so today. She was telling me her thoughts, so I invited her to write them down. Perhaps you too, have a reflection or a story, which puts life alongside faith in all its complexity and doubt? If you would like to share your thoughts via Weekly, please let me know so that I can plan it in. I would love to hear from you so that we can learn from one another, what it is to be the people of God.
Rev. Peter Cornick
We watched the BBC programme ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ this week and I reflected on how it spoke to me about our current situation.
Peter began his ministerial life in the Salisbury circuit, so we recognised many of the locations shown on the television programme – our manse was just along the road from the Porton Down defence establishment. Only two weeks before the incident, we went to the theatre near to where the two Russians who were poisoned were found. We had parked in the same car park as them.
One major character in the docu-drama was Ms Tracy Daszkiewicz, Wiltshire’s Director of Public Health. The programme demonstrated how she was constantly being called in to work – and how she responded immediately to those demands two years ago, when there was an attack using the nerve agent, Novichok. She came across as being all-consumed by the situation – and at times was unsure about whether she was doing the right thing.
The isolation of premises, the checking of benches, vehicles, shops, restaurants etc. were so similar to how we have been living recently, where cleaning everything has become normal. There were concerns from a council worker who didn’t want to shut down buildings and shops, because of the threat to local businesses.
The people of Salisbury were faced with something unprecedented. For those tasked with managing the crisis, the thought on their minds was that if they made wrong decisions, the loss of lives could be the outcome.
So, what does it say to us now? We know that Covid 19 has stolen the lives of many people – not just the elderly, or those with underlying health conditions, but far too many men, women and children who had plenty more to live for and to give. Frontline workers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, those who had been ill before, and others who were previously fit and healthy.
We are also seeing politicians, Public Health England representatives and scientists every day, as they are making decisions which are literally of life and death. They are trying to balance the health of all citizens and making rules that they trust will keep the maximum number of people safe, alongside managing the economy of the country, including making grants to numerous groups of people. Yet we are also aware that there are many people who fall outside of this support - some who were already severely disadvantaged. Wherever we stand politically, are we (in which I include myself) quick to criticise when we see something that could have been ‘better’ controlled? Why wasn’t the lockdown brought in earlier? Why haven’t schools and businesses opened sooner? The rules are not clear enough. They haven’t included a scenario that affects me. If I can meet one person, why can’t I see someone else?
We could have done it so much better! Or could we?
‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ (John 8:7b)
Rather than criticise people who are making important decisions in these unprecedented times, would it not be more appropriate to pray for them – the government, the medical and scientific experts – as well as the frontline workers, shopkeepers, business workers, transport drivers, teachers…
The television docu-drama ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ demonstrated to me the exhaustion that was experienced by the key staff – the police, the medical workers, the politicians – and just how much was hinging on each and every one of their decisions. And yet they were working in unprecedented times. Let us pray for the people around the world, who now have many lives hinging on each and every one of the decisions they make, that they may be given wisdom, compassion and a sense of justice in the work that they undertake.
A Message from the Superintendent Minister - 11 June 2020
'We believe that Black Lives Matter'
The stewards, meeting last Sunday, decided silence was not an option. We have displayed posters outside Hinde Street Methodist Church stating our belief, prayerfully standing with those who peacefully call for a change in public life. If we declare this to passers-by, we must enact it in our church life too. Does our church at Hinde Street truly reflect its diversity in all aspects of its life; in its stewards, preachers, Church Council, and where decisions are made? If not, in what ways might we intentionally include people of all backgrounds in positions of leadership?
Offering the support of the Methodist Church for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Rev. Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Methodist Conference, notes that racism exists within the church and denies the gospel. He urges us to imagine a different church.
Such a Church will celebrate and not be afraid of diversity; it will be disciplined and uncompromising in its refusal to tolerate any form of racism; it will work to encourage the vocation of those from minority groups to serve in positions of senior leadership; and it will be one in which all people can be confident of the welcome that they will receive as they share in worship and ministry with us.
Can we use this global moment, to reflect on how we might act on the words we say, so living up to our claim to be an inclusive church?
Rev. Peter Cornick
He lay there, needing to be free,
Deprived of oxygen.
He cried out
His brain needing air
They ignored him.
George Floyd died.
A slow death.
In excruciating pain.
They chose to do nothing.
This was a lynching unwarranted,
Senseless, callous & brutal!
Passers-by begged for mercy,
Begged for care & compassion,
Their cries fell on deaf ears.
We will stand up for George Floyd
We will not be silent anymore
We join his family in their pain;
Black lives matter too,
We will be silent no more!
Revd Dr Jongi Zihle – Co-Chair of the London Methodist District
For further reading, go to:
A message from the Superintendent of West London Mission 4 June 2020
Racism and injustice. Where is the Spirit of Pentecost?
‘Where have you experienced the Spirit moving in this season of time?’ Sam Walker was asked to speak to this question during the on-line worship on Pentecost Sunday. I found his testimony, following the shocking killing of George Floyd in the U.S., both powerfully disturbing and profoundly moving. It seemed to me, as he spoke, that the Spirit was evident in what he said. Sam’s words are published here to aid our reflection and I am grateful to him for his permission.
Rev Peter Cornick
‘Where have you experienced the Spirit moving in this season of time?’
This week has been a very sad one for me and for many others, both Black and White people. I have been distraught, emotional and I have cried as I watched the murder of a Black man in broad daylight. I saw many other Black people in high positions in society weep on TV reflecting on the hurt they feel. The murder brought to me in vivid focus the many accounts I have read of lynchings of Black people, Jim Crow laws, the Confederacy in the Southern United states, the Ku Klux Klan etc. I have cried and wondered how my relatives living in America would explain to their young children the things they are witnessing in their living rooms. I have cried.
When You hear Mr. Floyd crying, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, and calling for his mother, Mama, Mama! I ask myself the question, momentarily, where is God?
When the report that the Police officer kept his knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes and that he kept his knee on his neck for another 2 minutes and 58 seconds after Mr Floyd had been unresponsive and was showing no signs of life, I ask myself the question, momentarily, where is God? But then I thought again, this is nothing to do with the Spirit of God, it is about ‘man’s inhumanity to man (that) makes countless thousands mourn!’
Arnaud Arberry was jogging when he got shot by a white man and it took more than two months for an arrest and only after a video was leaked to the public. Christian Cooper, a man of good character and standing in his community and has long been a prominent bird watcher in New York City asked a white woman to put a leash on her dog in an area of a park where she was supposed to do so. She refused and instead called the Police to report that an African American man was threatening her and her dog. There are many examples where Black people, especially Black men have not had equal justice in the sight of the law and have grossly been discriminated against because of the colour of their skin.
Black people are just tired of being tired. Not only in America but also here in Britain.
I was once a regular visitor to Brixton Prison. There you can see the glaring inequities of the justice system. When she became Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May standing in front of 10 Downing Street said that she was going to reform the justice system that sends so many Black men to prison relative to other groups of people in the country. She never had the time to do anything about this, Brexit came along.
Covid 19 has exposed the inequities of systems in society that relegates BAME communities to poor housing, poor health, low paid jobs, inequities on the job market, in our schools, and in our criminal justice system. And yet, this is the community that occupies the front row in delivering the essential services necessary for society to function.
The question is: Where have I seen or experienced the Spirit moving at this time of Pentecost?
Perhaps I could say, Pentecost is revealed in the immediate condemnation of Mr Floyd’s murder from across the world and the exposure of the inequities Black people have complained about since enslavement.
I can also see God’s spirit in those who are literally fighting anti-racism at this time. I can see the spirit of Pentecost when I see and hear people clapping, singing and beating drums in praise of those in the health service fighting Covid 19.
The Spirit of Christ burns away our many fears and anxieties and sets us free to move wherever we are sent. That is the great liberation of Pentecost. Let us join together in asking the Spirit of God to liberate our hearts and our nation today.
A message from the Superintendent of West London Mission 21 May 2020
Congestion charge: inconvenience or necessity?
The extended congestion charge, which will include Sundays and weekday evenings will certainly cause inconvenience to worshippers - of all faiths - who travel into London by car. But it raises important issues too.
Many who use a car do so, due to having underlying health conditions and will currently need to avoid public transport. I am concerned that these people could feel more isolated - although there are exemptions from the congestion charge for people with disabilities. Walking or cycling is just not an option for many people. Our congregations will be affected, so how do we continue to offer an online facility on our return, to be inclusive?
I understand that the Mayor needs to recover the vast costs lost by public transport during the lockdown, but who will pay the most? Will it be the less well-off and those who have no choice but to use the bus or tube, whether they are travelling to worship or work? We will all take a financial hit as the economy recovers, but some more than others.
I support the Mayor’s green agenda for cutting vehicle pollution. It is of benefit to the health of Londoners and the planet. Being a resident in the congestion charge zone, I have to consider carefully when to use my car; more so when the ULEZ charge affects residents. The charge will be a deterrent. So, we all need to think carefully about how inconvenienced we really are by the congestion charge, when we regularly pray for those affected by climate change globally or pollution more locally.
These issues have no easy solutions, but I hope as faith communities, we will be able to engage with the Mayor, drawing his attention to the significant challenges some Londoners will face, but aware too, of our responsibilities in sharing the financial burden as well as caring for the environment.
Future return to Hinde Street
The government indicated that the beginning of July could see places of worship opening up. This would be based on the public health situation at the time and the relative risk. As I write, the Methodist Church has not yet issued guidelines for returning and it is unclear on what basis, or when, any opening might be. What is clear, is that it will not be a ‘return to normal.’ A full risk assessment will need to take place, including how we clean and socially distance, and how we manage worship and groups where many members are vulnerable due to age or underlying health issues. Speaking to colleagues in the Methodist Church and ecumenically, no-one is expecting an immediate or full return any time soon. Our greatest mission at the moment, is to protect the health of our members and guests as far as we can. Currently, we have all adapted well to meeting on-line – worship, classes, pastoral visits – and this is, for now, the safest place to be.
The ministerial and office staff are beginning to map out what the future might look like in terms of risk and what impact this will have on our operation. We will be consulting user groups as we progress and discuss options with the stewards team. At the moment, this is very provisional in order to give us some idea of what challenges might lie ahead. We await clear guidelines from the government and the Methodist Church.
I have been asked if I can give some projection of income lost during the lockdown. This would help friends to place their giving to Hinde Street in some context. I will ask the finance committee if it is possible to have some rough figures for you.
The ministers are always glad to receive a phone call from any of our friends, and we are grateful to those who have called us. Class Leaders are uniquely placed to care for their members. We each have a task to do, looking out for our neighbours.
Last Sunday, as we tried to join for worship, ‘Zoom’ experienced technical difficulties. Some suggest it was because too many Christians were using it! It is not perfect, but it is a lifeline. I look back on last Sunday, trying to read someone else’s sermon in note form, emailed to me seconds before, and ask myself, did we gather as a community, did we pray and did we reflect on the scriptures – even in adversity? If the answer is yes, then we have been faithful.
Rev Peter Cornick
During the pandemic, WLM Seymour Place have housed the clients who were in its Night Centre, in local hotels and flats. Key workers have been contacting those people to support them in their needs. Placing homeless people in otherwise empty accommodation has been a Westminster wide policy and has resulted in many who have accepted the offer, being given safe and socially isolated spaces.
Last week, I was contacted by WLM Seymour Place, to see if Hinde Street Methodist Church could help deliver food, donated by Waitrose, Edgware Road, to their clients. At the same time, a group of parents and students from Wetherby School had contacted the office, to see if there was anything they could do for us! Wetherby School regularly hire the church for their school assemblies and WLM is one of their designated charities.
I went with Helen, and our friends from Wetherby School to Waitrose, where we sorted a generous donation into large food bags and delivered to our eight grateful men. One of the Wetherby School parents said: ‘It was our absolute pleasure and really did us more good than you realise. Being able to help out at this difficult time is a tonic.’
A big thanks to all who were able to help in this small but significant gesture of community collaboration.
out of despair, you bring hope,
and out of isolation, you create community.
In our present uncertainty,
we know you will bless us with your peace,
Rev Peter Cornick 14.5.20
A Message from our Community Worker 8 May 20
When you hit that wall and sunbeams carry you through.
I hit the wall of lockdown. Last week when the rain was in force and grey skies were all I saw from our garden I felt claustrophobic with the new routine of life. The wall arrived unexpectedly and abruptly. I had been coping well - structuring my days around work, cooking, zoom meetings, walks and prayer. I had confidently expressed to friends that I was really happy in lockdown. I spoke too soon.
Looking back my wall was made from little bricks of small frustrations, fears, anxieties, and a desire for normal life to return. Brick by brick I was building the wall unintentionally until I noticed it had arrived like an unwanted ugly skyscraper in my back garden, taking away any sunlight that was glimmering through the grey clouds. I felt an overall lack of energy and an inability to have enthusiasm. The wall has lifted today - writing this has helped me and also the process of reflecting back on the past week on how I started to overcome the mental challenge of hitting the wall. Little by little I have been pick-axing my way through it.
During my wall episode my prayer routine took a shift and I credit this for enabling me to conquer the challenge. Often I use liturgy, silence, words, objects and visual art to help me pray. However with so much need in the world and a lack of energy I found myself wordless and unable to talk with God as I usually would.
At times in this pandemic the needs of the world has felt overwhelming - every aspect to human life has been impacted. I am sure this has been felt by many of us. I had been curating a long ‘to do list’ for God - fix this, bless that, heal this situation, and protect these people. All great and powerful words yet I found myself telling God what ought to happen - and shortly after my ‘Amen’ I would give myself a subconscious pat on the back for praying for so many situations and people.
During mentoring with Ruth Bottoms last week she gave me some space to untangle what prayer is for me. It is different for each person. I came to the conclusion it is a place where I can communicate with God about how I am relating to the world. Often in moments of prayer I rely on words. I have been trying to strip away all the usual expectations I place on myself when praying and instead focus on one image, God’s illuminating light. A welcome contrast to the unwanted skyscraper. With so much need in the world my temptation was to tell God all about every little detail. Through conversation with Ruth I was reminded that God already knows the interweaving complexities of our world and in prayer the trinity is an active partner praying with us, not a passive listener.
I have been using my imagination to visualise God’s illuminating light and placing in that light the needs of the world. I have been intentionally not using words, instead simply sitting in quietness imagining names and faces being etched into the sun beam and sun rays of God’s light. I have fallen in love all over again with Edvard Munch’s painting ‘The Sun’ 1909. For me it reflects the goodness of God. The shimmering colours glistening on the earth, ocean and rock offering warmth, strength and new life.
When I have been struggling I have looked at this painting to get me through the gloomier moments. It has lifted my spirit and reminded me that to sit in God’s sunbeams and sunrays through prayer is a spectacular place to dwell. My words are not always needed because the trinity are already holding the world in the radiating light of their hope.
So if you hit a wall this week - may you have moments which bring you back to the knowledge that the sun is around the corner. You may need a pick-axe to chip your way through that wall but please know that we are here for you. Your church community is here for you - you are not alone in this.
A message from the Superintendent Minister of West London Mission 30.4.20
Whose voice do we hear?
A former Bishop of the Church of South India, Dr P.J. Lawrence, wonders why, when coronavirus strikes and kills thousands and crashes stock markets, it receives 24/7 news coverage. He writes, ‘9 million people die per year from starvation! 25,000 deaths per day! The media never mention it.’ His analysis is that coronavirus has struck rich countries as well as poor, so those countries report it.
I wonder whether the reporting of the deaths and the stringent measures to reduce the spread of the virus we see in the UK, is reported because the death rate is so much greater than usual, and without the public health alarm, would be higher still. Every life lost represents a grief and a tragedy. But Dr Lawrence’s point is, in what we might call ‘normal times’, we routinely ignore a daily global crisis which ought to shock us as much as our current news.
The President of the Methodist Conference, Rev. Dr Barbara Glasson visited Rohingya refugees in refugee camps. Campaigning for All We Can’s emergency appeal, she wrote ‘with cases of coronavirus already confirmed in the town nearest to the camps … it is only a matter of time before this deadly virus reaches the communities in the camps – who have already suffered such unthinkable trauma since fleeing their homes in 2017.’
Writing from Fiji, Upolu Luma Vaai says, ‘Easter reminds us of the story of God who suffered through Jesus not merely to ‘carry our suffering’ as we often claim but really to carry us, as we seek to understand our faith through suffering.’
We are rightly shocked by the number of deaths in the UK. Coronavirus has forced us to recognise the contribution of health care professionals and key workers in essential services that, in ‘normal times’, go un-noticed. Perhaps coronavirus should also force us to hear the voices of those from across the world, who live with shocking death rates, daily, in ‘normal times.’
Easter God, transform us into those who hear the cries of suffering, in our community, or across the world and help us to recognise your love in care and compassion. Amen.
Rev Peter Cornick
A message from the Superintendent Minister of West London Mission 23.4.20
Our experience of the risen Christ during ‘lockdown’, suggests a re-think is required for on-line communion.
I have been asked by several people, why we cannot celebrate communion in our on-line worship? Easter Sunday, without presiding at, or receiving communion, was a challenge to my spirituality. In the light of such vast and tragic loss across the world, the absence of communion might be regarded as a discussion which is something of a luxury. But if communion is central to our worship and Christian life, it deserves reflection. It is after all, an expression of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
The reason for not celebrating communion on-line is quite simple. The Methodist Church, at its Conference in 2015, resolved that it would not be appropriate. Whilst I’ve read of clergy ignoring their respective authorities on this issue in our extreme circumstances, such an approach appears individualistic and pays no respect to our shared discipleship with the wider ‘communion’ of Christ, represented in Methodism by the Conference. Ironically, the Conference initiated a wider discussion concerning on-line communion which was to report this year.
There are several issues to consider; here are a few. Being the body of Christ is important to any church. There is a fear that communions taken in isolation diminish this. Gatherings conducted live on Zoom might well represent the ‘body’, but what of a recording accessed later, ‘on demand’? Are some virtual platforms more acceptable than others for the ‘body of Christ’ to meet? The presence of a ‘presbyter’ is required; again, a discipline of our Conference. Is the presbyter’s presence possible in multiple living-rooms? Can ‘one’ bread be broken in a number of places? And what of ecumenical considerations; should Methodists act independently before conversations with partner churches?
My experience of worshipping on-line in this crisis, has been one of connectivity. In a period of isolation, familiar faces and voices have helped us all to remain a ‘body of Christ.’ It has, to a large extent, been inclusive. What a delight to worship with people who for various reasons, have not worshipped at Hinde Street for a long time. Equally, I am aware of those who have not felt able to participate. I would ask Class Leaders particularly, to enquire again, whether we can provide assistance or reassurance to any of our friends in joining the on-line worship.
Many of us would bear testimony to the powerful presence of each of our preachers over the Easter season. There is no suggestion that their preaching from home has lessened their presence; nor more importantly, the presence of the Spirit within their preaching. Quite the reverse. I have found the re-discovery of Love Feasts a true blessing in these times. They have historically been lay led celebrations, not implying the sacrament of communion. During the Love Feasts, we have been able to eat and drink together; a symbol of our bond of faith and thanksgiving for the presence of God in our lives. Reading the story of the Emmaus Road this week, it struck me how it was the presence of the risen Christ, who made the feast. I have felt no lack of ‘presence’ in the risen Christ, as we have walked our unexpected ‘road’. Indeed, rather like those disciples, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ (Luke 24: 32)
John Wesley believed communion was a confirming and converting ordinance; it is then central to our mission. This crisis has demonstrated the need for a more flexible approach to worship and pastoral care. The necessity of worshipping on-line means we have inadvertently stumbled upon a means of growth, inclusivity and evangelism. A contemporary phrase I hear is, ‘things can’t go back to how they were.’ I would offer to the Conference, my experience of worship in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; an experience which demands an urgent review of on-line communion, for the sake of mission. If communion is the central liturgical act celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Christ, people of faith need to participate in it, during a time of crisis.
Rev Peter Cornick
A message from the Superintendent of West London Mission 9.4.20
Easter is a celebration of new life, hope and resurrection. At a time when to watch the news is almost too much to bear, Easter seems a long way off. To watch the film of nurses and doctors caring for a patient in a hospital, brings home the magnitude of the crisis and the thankfulness we have for those professionals on the frontline. To know the Prime Minister is in an intensive care unit, reminds us that this virus does not discriminate. We wish him a speedy recovery. But our prayers are with those who operate the frontline, all patients who are currently suffering the effects of COVID-19 around the world, and those who have been bereaved. May God be with each one. So where is Easter?
Jesus has suffered on the cross. God has suffered on the cross. Fundamentally, God has experienced the pain of living in this world; has experienced death; God knows our crisis. The hope of Easter is not that resurrection does away with the uncomfortable images of death. Easter expresses, through resurrection, how God continues to live and be present throughout our crisis, including death. Paul writes, that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus. God is wounded by suffering, the scars on the hands and feet are witness to that, but light and love are not to be extinguished.
Perhaps the real hope of Easter, for those whose lives have been dramatically changed by what we are experiencing, is that God, though wounded, lives and is present with us to transform our lives.
Christ has risen and forever
lives to challenge and to change
all whose lives are messed and mangled,
all who find religion strange.
Christ is risen. Christ is present,
making us what he has been –
evidence of transformation
in which God is known and seen.
(Singing the Faith 296: John Bell & Graham Maule)
Rev Peter Cornick
A message from the Superintendent of West London Mission 2.4.20
Several people last week, phoned friends from Hinde Street, to help them get online or phone into the Sunday worship. This gave opportunity, not just for technical assistance – we’re all much better at Zoom now! – but for conversation and connecting. Both Hinde Street and King’s Cross are reporting higher than usual attendances at online worship.
People want to pray.
Both churches have had opportunity to shop or care for others – keeping social distance. Some have been referred to us through the Council, others are people we know. One person, self-isolating and temporarily housed by the Council, was so grateful for the shopping, they expressed feeling cared for and being treated humanely. Whilst exercising, I have found myself walking into the road to create social distance. However, this might have created feelings of suspicion and alienation. We must hold on to the feelings of humanity expressed by the person receiving the shopping, for this restores our souls and we see God breaking into the fear.
As a staff team, we shared and prayed together – on Zoom which is the new normal. My colleague Rev. Kong Ching Hii led a reflection on Palm Sunday. He suggested that Jesus, entering Jerusalem, was entering a time of being out of control; he was at the mercy of others; everything for Jesus and the disciples was uncertain. It was a different situation of course, but, he observed, how strangely pertinent to our situation. Jesus was not in control, yet continued to rely on his Father.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowd shouted ‘hosanna.’ Translated, it means, ‘save us.’ Save us from forgetting those who feel isolated; save us from suspicion and fear; save us from missing the grace of gratitude and the holiness of humanity restored.
Rev Peter Cornick
A message from the superintendent of the West London Mission 28.3.20
I received so many messages following last Sunday’s online worship. They all expressed thanksgiving that we could gather as a community to pray and share in fellowship. Separated by distance, we were united in concern for one another and the world in worship. To be able to see or hear each other in such circumstances was a true blessing of this internet age. As I have spoken to people on the phone or on Zoom this week, the sense of gathering together and reducing isolation has become a significant pastoral opportunity. I want to thank all those who made the worship possible, those who have visited by phone, those who have helped to make difficult decisions around closure and those who have dealt with church business issues in a new way.
Following the government announcement, and after seeking advice, we were unable to run Wednesday Club. Westminster City Council sent me this message which I hope will be of some comfort to our friends from both the Wednesday Club and Winter Night Shelter: ‘Significant additional provision is being made for rough sleepers including hotel provision and this is very actively being worked on this week. This is being done with a number of our partners. Our outreach team and partners with transport firms are taking clients to these hotels. Dogs are also being taken to a foster centre. Our café (Unity Kitchen) is providing packed lunch and dinners to those in hotels, supported housing and hostels and this started yesterday. As a result of this, the street population has reduced significantly.’ Westminster City Council have also been in touch with me about how the church may be able to help their emerging emergency plan. Watch this space.
At the end of this week, I reflect that as a church, whether it be through participating in a new online prayer group, sharing with colleagues or Class members over the phone, or worshipping in a new way, we have been challenged to change as never before. And the response has been one of thanksgiving, that in adversity, our most pressing need has been to meet as a Christian community; to recognise God is with us.
This prayer was written by The Revd Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference.
If we are ill, strengthen us.
If we are tired, fortify our spirits.
If we are anxious, help us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.
Help us not to stockpile treasures from supermarkets in the barns of our larders.
Don't let fear cause us to overlook the needs of others more vulnerable than ourselves.
Fix our eyes on your story and our hearts on your grace.
Help us always to hold fast to the good,
See the good in others,
And remember there is just one world, one hope,
One everlasting love, with baskets of bread for everyone.
In Jesus we make our prayer,
The one who suffered, died and was raised to new life,
In whom we trust these days and all days,
Rev Peter Cornick
A message from the Superintendent of West London Mission
updated 20.3.20 @ 3.30pm
This week has been extraordinary. I want to acknowledge the intense anxiety and stress that people are under as routines and support mechanisms change. The pastoral and office staff together with various volunteers have worked tirelessly this week to try to adapt to the situation. I commend them all. The suggestion that staying at home would give us more time has not been the experience this week! As a church, we have been responding to public safety, communicating our closure, planning for the near future - including Sunday - and responding to pastoral need. Change is difficult – but enforced and sudden change needs clear decisions – sometimes unpopular – and faith that we belong to God even in the worst of storms.
We started on Monday, with a meeting to discuss how we would manage a gradual diminution of staff, volunteers and preachers. By the evening, we had to close. Deciding to close the Westminster (Winter) Night Shelter at short notice was a very hard decision; telling the men even harder. It was with the best interests for their health and that of our volunteers and to not spread the virus and put pressure on the NHS. Likewise, the closure of the anonymous groups has been difficult. People have been stoical as well as frustrated. We were able to offer a much reduced Wednesday Club, (this is largely, although not entirely, for people sleeping rough) serving tea and soup from the front steps of the church. The guests were enormously grateful.
Worship, as you will see in the ‘Weekly’, will be an attempt to bring us together ‘virtually’. Again, we are in the realms of faith and hope that this may work and it aims to include people. We are also posting some prayers and meditations on the website – do look out for them.
Some churches are offering quiet spaces – keeping a distance – for people to pray. Each church needs to respond according to its situation. Our ability to manage such a venture with so few volunteers, and to clean afterwards with limited ancillary staff, needs to be taken into consideration. Our response is emerging but our weekday priority, at this time, is to concentrate on trying to provide something for Wednesday Club for as long as we safely can. Our Sunday priority is to offer one ‘virtual’ service and this will develop over the weeks. The same will be true for Holy Week. Please continue to look at the website for more information.
Deacon Belinda has contacted all Class Leaders who are each contacting their Class to offer prayer and support. For any pastoral need or offer of help, please contact Belinda in the first instance. If you think you have the virus or are self-isolating, please let Belinda know – we may be able to help with prescriptions, food etc. and the ministerial staff would wish to pray for you. For any issues regarding worship or the church and office generally, please contact me, Peter.
Many of you will be feeling frightened and confused. Some of you, I know, are self-isolating or may be experiencing the symptoms of the virus. Others will fear for their jobs or be worried about loved ones. The thoughts and prayers of myself, Deacon Belinda, Miriam, the stewards and office staff, are with you all.
A thought for the day.
Jesus is in Gethsemane, aware of the suffering he will undergo. He invites the disciples to sit, whilst he prays but the disciples are overtaken by fear and exhaustion. On his return from prayer, Jesus finds them asleep. ‘Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Even in fear and exhaustion, might we continue to sit with Jesus. To remember, he intercedes for us and the world community, especially those who are vulnerable. Half way through Lent, there are temptations we didn’t think of at its beginning such as hoarding or unnecessary travel. Can we keep watch and pray with Jesus? Pray for those looking out for their neighbour and how you can support someone perhaps with a phone call; those in front line care, particularly our WLM care staff; for those who are sick or fearful.