Following the death of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday morning (April 9), the three churches in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale will all be open this week from Monday to Friday for people to come in and light a candle, pray or just sit quietly. There will also be black ribbons available to tie in the churchyards as a sign of mourning and reflection.
The churches are St George’s, Badshot Lea, GU9 9LD; St John’s, Hale Road, GU9 9RP (park in the layby near Daniele Sicilian Restaurant); and St Mark’s, Alma Lane, GU9 0LT.
Our April magazine is out now, full of Easter hope, news, plans and offers by our wonderful, loyal advertisers.
Inside, along with the joy of Easter, you will find information on our plans for growth and how we want to serve our community better, you’ll find encouraging news about vaccinations, courses about faith, a ‘cycle ride’ from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for the church and for research into dementia, a piece about Pamela who has led the choir at St John’s for the past decade, and much more. (Miaow! Don’t forget me – the Church Cat).
Please read, share, respond, contribute. Let’s tell more people about all that this parish has to offer. And if you’d like a printed copy, let us know.
The cover price of the magazine is £10 for the year which pays for the editorial costs. We would be grateful if those accessing it online would pay £1 an issue. You can pay by clicking on the button below:
Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny, Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny, A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny, Quite-Small Bunny, Smallest-Bunny-Of-All (very loudly) and, of course, the Chocolate Chicken.
May you know the blessing and hope of Christ this Easter!
Holy Saturday isn’t as sunny as Good Friday, but the bunnies still manage to get in a walk. Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny wants to show them the difference between a park and a recreation ground (which she is careful not to call a ‘rec’ for fear of getting Quite-Small Bunny’s hopes up).
“Wow! This is huge!” says A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny. “I hope we won’t get lost.”
“Don’t worry, I’m with you,” says the Easter Bunny. “And I know the way.”
“Look!” shouts Smallest-Bunny-Of-All. “We can climb the trees!”
It’s quite a long way up for their little legs, and A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny is, well, a bit of a worrier about whether they are safe, but from their tree they can see a long way.
“What’s that?” asks Quite-Small Bunny? “Down there on the ground?”
“It’s the chocolate chicken!” yells Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
And it is! The Easter Bunny is overjoyed to see her.
“Can I place an order for eggs?” she asks.
The bunnies are in a reflective mood. Before they tuck in to a hot cross bun (they are only little bunnies so they need only one between them), the Easter Bunny tells them a little bit about Good Friday.
“So Jesus showed everyone a different way and people didn’t like it, is that right?” asks Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot-And-Wants-To-Know-Even-More Bunny.
“That’s right,” says the Easter Bunny.
“What way was that?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“It was a way of love,” says the Easter Bunny.
“Is that why our bun has a kiss on it?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
The Easter Bunny gives him a hug.
Smallest-Bunny-Of-All hopes that the bun also has chocolate in it. Good thing the Easter Bunny can’t read her mind.
After yesterday’s confusion about ship wrecks and recreation grounds, the bunnies investigate the houses further and discover, to the delight of the children at least, that there is another playground.
“Just a short play,” says the Easter Bunny, “I want to go to the Maundy Thursday service this evening.”
“Evening is years away!” says Quite-Small Bunny.
“No, it’s only a few hours away,” Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny corrects him.
“Whose going to baby-bunnysit us when you go to the service?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“The chocolate chicken can!” shouts Smallest-Bunny-Of-All from her high perch.
‘If only,’ thinks the Easter Bunny.
The Easter Bunny and her family investigate what else there is near the church they found yesterday. There seem to be lots of houses and people, some of them playing games, and this all makes A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny, well, worried.
“Supposing they don’t like bunnies,” he says.
“Everyone was very welcoming at church when we went on Sunday, weren’t they?” says the Easter Bunny. “And there’s plenty of space in all these big green fields.”
“They are recreation grounds,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “Or you can call them ‘recs’.”
“I want to see the rec, I want to see the rec!” says Quite-Small Bunny. “There might be lost treasure.”
It takes the Easter Bunny a while to realise that he thinks he is going to see a ship wreck.
To cheer him up she promises them all ice cream.
“Can I have a chocolate flake in my ice cream?” asks Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
That reminds the Easter Bunny of a problem. Just where is that chocolate chicken?
It’s a beautiful day and the Easter Bunny takes her family for a walk, this time to another part of north Farnham where she has seen another church.
“It’s a lovely place to live,” she tells them as she leads the way down the road.
“Can we have a burrow in one of the parks here?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
“They are recreation grounds,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “The park is a very big area over there,” she says, waving a paw in what she hopes might be the right direction, as she doesn’t always know quite as much as she makes out (shh! don’t tell anyone).
“A big park might be a bit too big for little bunnies,” worries A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“I don’t mind, as long as there are flowers and playgrounds,” says Smallest-Bunny-Of-All . He scampers off into a clump of daffodils.
“I also want to live somewhere where there are chocolate eggs!” he calls.
That reminds the Easter Bunny of a problem…
There has been a disagreement about what to do today. Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny wants to study the spring flowers for a school project.
Smallest-Bunny-Of-All wants to visit the playground.
A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny doesn’t like disagreements and is feeling a bit upset.
Thankfully Quite-Small Bunny has a solution: “Let’s do both.”
The Easter Bunny thinks that this might give her a greater chance of finding a chocolate chicken.
It’s Palm Sunday and the Easter Bunny and her family want to go to church.
“Here’s the door,” says Quite-Small Bunny.
“Will we be allowed? We’re not like most of the people here,” says A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
For once Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny turns to her mother for the answer.
“Of course,” says the Easter Bunny, “this is a church where everyone is welcomed, whoever we are.”
“Come on in,” says the vicar, “you are very welcome.”
The Easter Bunny hopes that a chocolate chicken has also found her way here.
During the service a small voice can he heard singing ‘Sleeping bunnies’. It’s Smallest-Bunny-Of-All’s favourite song.
The Easter Bunny and her family stop off for a rest on a park bench.
“Where are all the people?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
“They are having to stay inside and keep safe because of Covid,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny.
“Do we have to do that?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“Can we go and play in the park?” asks Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
Meanwhile the Easter Bunny is considering the journey ahead. She doesn’t seem to be as fit as she used to be. Maybe she has spent too much time watching TV and eating biscuits during lockdown.
Also, she still hasn’t solved the problem of the chocolate chicken.
The Easter Bunny and her family are off. They are making their way around the parish, heading for church on Easter Sunday.
But where are they today? And why are they? Who exactly is the Easter Bunny?
Well, since you ask, the Easter Bunny has been investigating her family history and so far has got back to her Great-great-great-great-great-great-and-quite-a-few-more-Grandad in the middle of Europe in the 17th century when he used to carry eggs in a basket to give children at Easter.
“We don’t have to lay the eggs ourselves do we?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny. “Don’t be silly, bunnies don’t lay eggs,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “Will we have to ask the chickens for eggs?” asks Quite-Small Bunny. “Let’s give them chocolate eggs!” says Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
The Easter Bunny tries to remember whether she knows any chocolate chickens.
You may have read or heard national media reports on the Church of England in decline and dire consequences ensuing. Well, not on our watch. The parish has been bucking the trend and is seeing growing congregations both online and in person.
Though we were shut for many months last year because of Covid, we’ve seen new people coming to church when we have been able to be open and lots of people joining in online with our services, groups and festivals we have run.
Lesley Crawley says: “This has been a time of extraordinary change for us all and we have had to adapt to the challenges and respond in a way which meets the needs of those around us. Going online had been one obvious response and it is something we should have done years ago, alongside our services in church. There are lots of people who would like to come to church but can’t for whatever reason – disability, caring responsibilities, ill health, shift work and the like – so being able to access online services when they like is a real bonus. What’s more they can take part by recording readings, prayers etcetera.
“We’ve also really involved people in the services in the churches themselves, ensuring that it’s a whole-church event rather than just the same people standing up the front and speaking. So we have families doing drama for instance, or reading poetry and they have really enjoyed it.
“But it’s not just the numbers, we have also thought carefully about how we relate to everyone around us. So we have, run online events – our latest is a poetry festival – and looked at how we can use the buildings better, make them more accessible, change the way we do outreach, really get serious about church health and develop ambitious plans for the future. We have seen this as an opportunity to understand what our community wants from us and how we can share God’s love with everyone so that everyone feels welcomed and valued whoever they are and whatever their circumstances.”
Watch out for more changes and growth as we continue to seek God’s will and respond to people around us.
We are back into lockdown with schools closed to most children; restrictions on leaving our homes; all but essential shops closed; and other rules which are now law which you can find here.
However, churches can remain open for worship as long as they follow strict precautions such as social distancing, hand sanitizing, no mingling between households/bubbles, everyone of 11 and over wearing masks (unless exempt), and the parish is continuing to monitor the situation. We have increased the space between chairs where possible, have moved the altar at St Mark’s back to create more space and at St Mark’s will be bringing communion to people rather than expecting them to move around to take communion so that there is enough room for everyone.
However, no-one who feels uncomfortable about coming to church should feel any obligation to come and there are online services every week here.
Lesley explains the thinking behind this: “Churches offer comfort and support which is particularly important at a time when our mental health is under such strain. Moreover, the risk of catching Covid has been shown to be very low in UK churches and we have gone out or our way to ensure that we have mitigated any risks. We will continue to follow the guidelines and to ask our congregations to do the same.
“We also want churches to remain open for funerals. For many families, church funerals are important and we are also able to accommodate larger numbers than many crematoria – we can have up to 30 people – so enabling more people to experience this important aspect of grieving.
“Of course many of our congregations may not wish to come to church at the moment. We are continuing our services online as well as in church so those who have internet can join in. However, we are acutely aware of those people who do not have internet and cannot come to church and we are doing what we can to ensure that they are not isolated. We even have people ringing others up and playing the service through the phone as well as just having a general chat.”
Our services are at 9.30am at St John’s, 10am at St George’s and 11am at St Mark’s, and online services are here.
Come on in! We are excited to announce that our churches will be open again for services this Sunday, after more than four months of being closed thanks to Covid-19.
There will be simple Communion services at each of the three churches from this Sunday: St John’s at 9.30am, St George’s at 10am and St Mark’s at 11am. We will also hold a service at noon on Wednesday at St Mark’s, replacing the old Friday service.
We are also going to continue to offer online services as we know that not everyone will feel able to come to the church buildings themselves. You can find our online services here.
If you are familiar with the services you will notice some differences, as Lesley Crawley explains: “We are absolutely delighted that we can return to the church buildings to worship together in person. However there will be changes to the services designed to reduce the risk of Covid-19. For instance we cannot have any singing, we cannot sit close to each other and we cannot share the Communion cup of wine. We will, however, be able to receive the Communion bread. Please come along and be a part of our services if you are able to, everyone is welcome.”
We have installed hand sanitizers and put up notices to remind everyone about social distancing and where it is safe to sit. Everyone attending will be asked for contact details so that if someone tests positive for Covid-19 it will be possible to get in touch with others who attended church at the same time. Those coming to church are strongly advised to wear masks but this is not compulsory.
There will be services available online from 9am on Sunday. “Holding services online means that more people can access them,” says Lesley. “Some people may feel particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and therefore not want to come to church, and there are also others who cannot come to church perhaps because of mobility issues or illness, or because of work or family commitments. We should have thought about online services long ago but Covid concentrated our minds rather and has enabled us to be creative and reach more people.”
We are also very aware that the Covid pandemic has accentuated the divide between those who have access to modern technology and those who do not. Many of those who are not online are also older and have been increasingly isolated during lockdown. The parish, along with other groups in Farnham, has been supporting those who are isolated and is looking at how to increase this support in the future.
As you probably know, the government has announced that church services may resume from this weekend and we have been looking carefully at how this will be possible from the beginning of August which will give us enough time to prepare.
It is not, unfortunately, simply a case of throwing open the doors and welcoming everyone in, much as we would like to. There are all sorts of issues to deal with to ensure that we keep everyone safe.
This week further information has been released by the government, the national Church of England and the Diocese of Guildford to help us plan to reopen the churches for services.
Our plan – subject to PCC approval – is to have a service in each of the three churches on a Sunday and a mid-week service at St Mark’s from the beginning of August.
Because of the dangers of Covid-19 infection, the services will follow a simple format with no singing but with musicians playing instruments. We will not be able to share the Peace but we will be able to take Communion, though in one kind only. The Bread may be distributed in wafer form by the priest (who will have taken all the necessary hygiene precautions) but we cannot share the Wine. Everyone coming forward to receive Communion or a blessing will be guided on where to walk and stand in order to minimise the danger of passing anything on.
Everyone will have to observe strict social distancing measures – though you can sit in your household groups of course – and hygiene regulations, but we have installed hand sanitisers already and have been working hard to ensure that it will all be as safe as possible.
We are also going to continue worship online so anyone who can’t come to church on Sundays or feels unsafe doing so can still join in the worship.
We are delighted to say that all three churches are open for private prayer on certain days.
The exact days and times that each is open are:
St John’s: Sunday 2-4pm and from July 12 all day. Thursday all day
St George’s: Monday and Thursday, all day
St Mark’s: Tuesday and Saturday 10am-12pm
We have also installed hand sanitisers at the entrance and exit doors and everyone is asked to use these. The churches will then be shut for three days to help prevent the spread of the virus.
We are also able to hold funerals, weddings and baptisms in the churches, though numbers are limited.
Lesley commented: “We are so pleased to be able to welcome everyone back into the churches, although there are obvious time limits and other restrictions so that we can help protect people from COVID-19. Our churches are symbols of hope and stability in a troubled world and though we can pray anywhere, many of us find a sense of God and peace in church.
“Everyone is welcome to come in when we are open; people of any faith or none are free to come and enjoy the buildings.”
For further information contact the administrator, Stella, by email or by calling 07842761919.