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.
During this second lockdown the churches are closed for services, though you will find our services online here. However two of our churches are open for private prayer:
St George’s, Badshot Lea, is open on a Tuesday and a Saturday, and St John’s is open on a Thursday and a Sunday. Both will be open 9am-4pm.
Details of where the churches are can be found 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’ll keep you updated.
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.
A quick message from Lesley about the new rules about the use of church buildings
Please note, this has been postponed. Look out for a new date later in the year.
Come and hear about the ambitious plans to create a community hub and café in St John’s Church, at an exhibition on Saturday, March 28, at 3pm and 7pm.
The church is going to be developed so that it is not just a place of worship but a centre designed to meet some of the needs of groups in the community, including people with learning difficulties, those with dementia, young people wanting a place to go outside school hours, and those with issues affecting their mental health. There will also be a soft play area, office space and flexible areas for groups to use.
The church has carried out extensive research into what is needed and is working with groups and individuals, including the county, borough and town councils; the local clinical commissioning group; and charities, particularly Post19 which supports young adults with learning difficulties. Plans will be announced formally at a launch at the church on Saturday, March 28.
Lesley Crawley is leading the development of the new hub and café. She said: “We know that there is a real need for a place where people can meet both formally and informally, in groups and organised sessions, or simply by dropping in at the café. We are holding a public launch for the plans for the new hub on March 28 so that everyone can see what will be happening. Please do come and join us.”
Please note, plans for the launch are going ahead at the moment but obviously we will follow any advice from the Government and Church of England about gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Drop us an email or leave a comment to let us know if you are coming and which session – 3pm or 7pm.
St Mark’s Church is welcoming new visitors every month at the moment – a group of ‘recorders’ who can be seen walking around inside the church making careful notes and taking pictures in order to ‘record’ the church.
The idea is to record everything inside – the windows; memorials; ironwork; textiles; the Kitty Milroy murals and other decorations; ‘Emily’ the organ; the woodwork; stonework; and documents – and to produce a report which will essentially give a snapshot of the church in 2020.
The recorders are members of The Arts Society Farnham, and are led by Margaret Popovic and Alison Boydell. They chose the church after reading in the local press about the nationally important murals painted by Kitty Milroy a century ago, and about Emily the Edwardian organ who has just been restored.
“St Mark’s is a lovely, very individual community church with wonderful paintings,” said Alison. “It will take us several months to record it and then we want to move on to St John’s.”
For an online look at St Mark’s click here, then click on the ‘Google Sphere’ links on the page
We have come a little closer to solving the mystery of the old wooden altar at St Mark’s. The altar is Tudor in style and has an inscription “GIVEN BI HENRIE LVNNE 1608”, but St Mark’s was built in 1883, 275 years later.
Bob Skinner, a great friend of the church and a leader of Weybourne Community Church, has been on the case and found this cutting in the Surrey Advertiser from December 4, 1880. It’s still three years before the church was built, but read on:
‘PRESENTATION TO THE PARISH CHURCH. – The Parish Magazine for December, just published, says:- “A working party of ladies in Farnham have presented a new altar to the Parish Church. This, with a new altar cloth, was placed in the church on St Andrew’s Day, Nov. 20th. The old altar and altar cloth have been accepted by the Vicar of Hale for the use of a church which it is intended to begin next year at Hale Common.”
So, the altar was in St Andrew’s Church – the Parish Church in question – until November 1880. St Mark’s was built over the next three years on land given by Bishop Sumner, the Bishop of Winchester (the area was in the Diocese of Winchester at the time) and flint from the common was used to build the walls.
We still don’t know the full history of the altar but it is possible that Henry Lunne, who has been recorded as living in Farnham in the second half of the 16th century, gave it to St Andrew’s as the church was well established then. In fact, parts of St Andrew’s date from the 12th century.
If anyone does know any more however, let us know. Leave us a comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Herbert, a celebrated speaker and authority on church art and architecture, will give a talk at St John’s Church, Hale, on Art, Architecture and Christianity in Victorian England this Wednesday (June 5th, at 7.30pm), as part of the 175th anniversary celebrations of St John’s.
Bishop Christopher Herbert is the former vicar of The Bourne, Canon of Guildford Cathedral and Bishop of St Albans, and visiting Professor in Christian Ethics at the University of Surrey. He is a sought-after lecturer across the UK and in Europe and has been a guest lecturer at The National Gallery; the Courtauld Institute; King’s College, London; the University of Leicester; Westminster Abbey and at The Arts Society (NADFAS) groups in the UK and mainland Europe. He has also lectured for Swan Hellenic on their Rhone cruises.
The talk will look at the way Victorian England responded to massive changes in society and the world with assertive confidence but also with nostalgia. In architecture and painting, these two conflicting forces gave rise to some fascinating and provocative work both in the Church and in society.
Christopher Herbert retired to Farnham where he had been vicar of The Bourne between 1981 and 1990. In addition, he was Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Guildford and was made a Canon of Guildford Cathedral, before becoming Archdeacon of Dorking in 1990. He became Bishop of St Albans in 1995.
He is a prolific author and much of his writing is based on the themes of prayer and spirituality, for both children and adults. Among his best-known books are Ways into Prayer and Pocket Prayers. In 2002 he completed a major piece of research into ‘The Image of the Resurrection of Jesus in 15th Century Northern European Art’, for which he was awarded an MPhil by the University of Leicester. He was awarded a PhD by the University of Leicester in 2008, for his ground-breaking research on ‘The Origins of the Easter Sepulchre in Pre-Reformation England’.
Admission to the talk on Wednesday is free but donations are welcome. Refreshments will be provided.
For further information on Christopher Herbert, visit www.threeabbeys.org.uk