Hello. I’m Sarah Bagnall and I serve as a churchwarden in the Parish of Gilston & Eastwick within our Benefice. While we are in vacancy and awaiting to appoint a new vicar, we are taking turns to write the Parish Newsletter from our churches and this month the honour falls to me.
As I was thinking about what to highlight among our activities in August, it occurred to me that as we head into the school holidays this year we do so from quite a different place to normal. Many families have already spent a lot of time together during lockdown (an experience often only reserved for those special few weeks away) and planned holidays abroad are looking much less likely, with English holidays on the cards from many or simply days out from home.
And this period of stillness from which we approach the peak of Summer has meant that for many of us a trip to shops or to see friends & family has become exciting again – as we have recalibrated our expectations over the last few months.
As part of our one hour of exercise we all spent more time walking around our local areas and I for one have noticed changes in nature a lot more than usual. I have enjoyed watching the field of barley behind my home go from green to gold and seeing the farmer start to harvest it. And I am marvelling at the buddleia in bloom in my garden at the moment - a mass of butterflies and bees. How do they know it is there and all appear just at the right time? One of nature’s many miracles!
Our churches are in the Diocese of St Albans who have produced some great resources for people to use during the lockdown. If you are looking for ways to occupy the family or give purpose to a walk check out the Wild Field Worship Guide for a game of prayerful “I-Spy” as you wander round our local area or explore the English Countryside where ever you manage to escape to for a break.
We are thankful that our churches have been able to re-open for services and that the Rev Su Tarran (who is an Associate Priest helping to support our community while we recruit a new full time vicar) has finally been able to take a live service for us, in church, and meet the people she has been broadcasting to online from her home. It is super to have her support and I hope you will all be able to meet Rev Su in the coming months. As many people have engaged with our online services during lockdown we will be continuing to broadcast our services online each week so that folk can enjoy them on-demand where other commitments make it difficult to make it to church on a Sunday. And we’d love to get your feedback on our church Facebook pages if you are finding these useful.
While we can’t sing in church at the moment we will continue to try and do as many open air services as possible on a Tuesday evening at Eastwick and a Friday evening at Gilston when the weather permits. Everyone is very welcome to join us and it is always guarantees a good view across the fields with the occasional cow taking an interest in what we are doing over the churchyard fence.
Saturday 15th August marks the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day and St Mary’s church will be participating in a National Bell Ringing at 11:05am on that day – tolling a single bell 75 times. If you would like to join us from 10:45 we will be making the official proclamation from the top of the church tower before bell ringing commences . Then we will have coffee in the churchyard (or porch – weather dependent) and then head out for a socially distanced community. Hope many of you will be able to join us for some or all of that. Otherwise perhaps simply listen out wherever you may find yourself that morning as a church near you is likely to be participating.
Wishing everyone a splendid Summer and Godspeed for any travels. Sarah Bagnall.