Bishop Auckland Methodist Church

Senior Steward’s Report to Church General Meeting

April 11th 2021

There is a famous song which begins, ‘What a difference a day makes…’, well never mind a day, what about the past year. Our lives have been changed completely since that Sunday in March 2020 when I closed the Sunday Morning Worship by asking you all to sing ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’. Like myself, how many of you would have thought that this pandemic would last a year, at least. When we closed down last March we all thought that we would be returning to a normal way of life around about September time. However, the September reopening time has dragged on and on, and now we are in April 2021 and only just now starting to return to a hopefully, more normal way of life.

During all this time the Stewards, Pastoral Visitors and Rev John have been trying to keep in touch with you on the phone, newsletters and through the website. We have been learning new ways of life, for example we now all know what it is to have ‘Zoom and Teams’ meetings. We have learnt new ways of going about our daily lives, sanitising, wearing face masks, social distancing and enduring ‘lock downs’, and most importantly, learning how to ‘stay safe’.

As Stewards we have been trying in this intervening period of try to sort out how we could carry on in the future, how to make our church safe and be ‘Covid free’. What would be the best ways to encourage you to return to a safe Church, even though it meant as Methodists we could not do what Methodists delight in doing, and that is singing.

To plan on going forward the Stewards and the Property & Finance Committee joined forces and created a working group called ‘The Way Forward’ where we have met and planned everything which has happened at Church over the past few months, and doing it all with your best interests and staying healthy as our core theme. We held a special Church Council last July where we were given the authority of the Church Council to act and progress matters as we thought fit without having to request a Church Council meeting to ratify all our suggestions, and for that we were grateful. It meant that we could plan ahead and make decisions all for the good of you and the Church. We introduced 4 ‘junior’ stewards to assist the stewards help to get through all their tasks, and they have been a help to us.

Today, I have been in Church with Rev John and we have been re-arranging the seating so that we can now accommodate 62 people for a service of worship whilst still staying socially distant. If Government Guidelines allow us, hopefully in the next few weeks we will be able to make further changes, but always with your best interests at heart.

We hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to return to Church in a manner which we knew and loved prior to this pandemic. We know that God has been with us during this pandemic and for that we are truly grateful, and we pray that one day we shall be able to hear our glorious organ being played again, and to be able to sing together…

‘Tis Jesus the first and the last, whose spirit shall guide us safe home,
We’ll praise him for all that is past, and trust him for all that’s to come’

and thankfully mean every word, and until then, please take care and stay safe.

Ralph, Senior Steward.

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