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2020 January to June in the churches

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We started the year with Epiphany in both churches. After All Age Worship with Wise Men and then a choral service, St Edmund's choir went to the Red Cow for lunch. Then they sang their pudding off with a Celebration in the Church Hall - 53 people came and enjoyed it. The following week St Matthew's had their Christingle Service (making the Christingles in the Vicarage the day before). 

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Children from Year 1 at Portway Infant School came to visit St Edmund's - it took three separate visits to get them all in - and Year 1 from Walter Evans came to St Matthew's. We also welcomed Walter Evans Year 2 who had visited a mosque and came to discuss how the buildings differed (and the similarities). On Friday 24 January several of our people enjoyed the Nagpur Link Curry Evening, and on Sunday 26 January we joined with other Allestree Churches for the Songs of Praise at Broadway Baptist Church. Toddler Group celebrated the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat. 

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February started with Candlemas. The Communion service at St Matthew's included a procession, here the choir gather at the west end. Harris was baptised at St Edmund's in the afternoon (with parents Michael and Stephanie), and in the evening we had Choral Evensong with a procession, candles, and a glass to celebrate the end of the Christmas Season. (All the photos on this page are posted with permission).

More than seventy people packed into the Fellowship Room on Thursday 6 February, keen to find out from Derby University staff and students, and a local resident, why wildlife in our gardens and in the churchyard is so important. A full report is on the Green Church page (on the Activities tab).

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Storm Ciara swept the country the following weekend. The railways closed down, the National Trust closed their properties, we had six services! On Monday there was a sudden snow storm - here is St Matthew's. An hour later St Edmund's looked lovely. The next weekend was pretty horrible too.


On Sunday 23 February we baptised Jody (here with his parents Jessica and Jamie). On Shrove Tuesday Peter was interviewed by Sally Pepper on BBC Derby about the importance of pancakes, and then we had Pancake Lite at St Edmund's Church Hall.


Ash Wednesday was busy - twice our normal congregation for our 10 am service, the whole of Walter Evans School in two services (we looked at the Temptations of Jesus), and a Choral Communion in the evening. 


Rather unusually, we started Lent with two weddings, both at St Edmund’s. On Thursday 27 February Thomas and Emily and on Saturday 29 February Thomas and Nicola. Peter managed to get the right Thomas married to the right girl!


We started March with a well-attended All Age Worship at St Edmund's and a well-attended Communion at St Matthew's. Peter took the service at Sinfin Moor Church. On Saturday 7 March several of our choir went to an RSCM Day Conference at Derby High School, and Peter went to Norwich for a day on Medieval Pilgrimage. He also explored several Norwich churches, this is St Edmund's. It was built about fifty years after Edmund's martyrdom and stands next to the defensive ditch built around the City - spiritual protection. On Tuesday 10 March Peter took assembly at Portway Junior School, and was rather pleased to see St Edmund's Allestree on their new window vinyls.

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As Lent progressed the Coronavirus, Covid-19, swept the country. Firstly we were told not to share the Peace and only to take communion in one kind, then our churches were closed for public worship, then the churches were locked and we were all told to stay at home. We managed to produce a leaflet with Morning and Evening Prayer and get them circulated in every parish magazine, and put worship and prayer resources on the website. After a wet winter, it was a beautiful Spring, but a struggle for all of us. 

Kierran and Olivia married at St Matthew's just before the closure - only a few people in church, but still a special occasion. 

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Peter used this picture of an Anglo-Saxon chalice from Hexham Abbey on the website - this is not the first crisis in the thousand year life of the chalice. Walter Evans School decorated their fence with rainbow pictures made by the children, and Peter videoed an Easter Message for the children. It was based on a window at the Bridge Chapel in Derby, and the same image was used on our church Easter Card and letter - posted to several hundred people.

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Holy Week with no church services was very odd. The archived page "Worship while our buildings are closed" gave lots of ideas for services, and people enjoyed listening to something different. Several joined in a virtual hymn sing for Maundy Thursday led by Alex from Derby Cathedral. On Easter Sunday Geoff Howell took this wonderful photo of St Matthew's and an Easter Candle. Peter took less good photos of the Easter Candle at St Edmund's and beside the Yew tree. (I was coping with a candle that wouldn't stand upright and a wind that kept blowing the flame out. I  wanted a photo of the candle alight beside the tree - after all, the tree was been here before the church - but I didn't want to be the Vicar who burned down the Allestree Yew). 

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Caroline, our church administrator, was working from home and caring for her children. She helped Noah make "Mallard", a train for Peter and Selwyn, the Vicarage cat. May's magazines were both posted on line, with a few printed copies sent to those without internet access. Peter worked on his in the garden. 

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When lock down has started and access to the churches was forbidden, we stopped St Matthew's clock as it is wound by hand. Six weeks later a caller to BBC Radio Derby said that the noise of its chime was something she was missing. Peter was interviewed and commented that it chimes 156 times a day (two x 1, plus two x 2 ..., plus two x 12). We decided that it was safe to restart it, and raised the flag for the anniversary of VE Day and all the other celebrations through May and June. Christian Aid Week is on line this year - Geoff Bailey made this display for St Edmund's churchyard.

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We had had plans to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day with a Tea Party in Darley Abbey and a Choral Evensong in St Edmund's. Instead Peter raised a glass to his grandad who made this waistcoat while stationed in Brussels at the end of the War. The Garratt family joined their street party, and the Church bunting decorated Alex and Matt's new house. 

Peter told the story of his grandad on his daily facebook rambling - you can read them all on his blog

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On Wednesday 13 May we were informed that clergy, but only clergy, could enter churches to pray. We have had several funerals over the last few weeks - at the Crematorium there is a limit of ten mourners, or we can have a similar number at the graveside.


On Thursday 14 May the Standing Committee of St Edmund's met by zoom. Zoom was also used for JACK, St Edmund's Junior Church, on Sunday 17 May - Karen organised for us to make a rainbow. Caroline worked with her children to make a Get Well card for John in hospital. 

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Peter produced a video for Walter Evans school, and worship material for Ascension and Pentecost (archived on the "Worship while our churches were closed" page). We should have married David (our morning organist at St Edmund's) and Karen on 31 May. He has a Compton Organ in Belper, and Karen filmed him playing "I'm (not) getting married in the morning". 

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On Monday 1 June Walter Evans School, which had remained open for the children of key workers, opened to Year 1 children too - a total of 120 children (about a third of their normal number). St Edmund's Pre-School reopened for about 20 children. The Hall was given a deep clean, cleaning materials purchased (and used), and the children were glad to be back.

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Work also started on Monday 1 June to repair and redecorate the Nave ceiling of St Edmund's - a project paid for by money left us in legacies. At the end of the first week the scaffolding had been erected. The second week was spent sorting out the plaster, as well as testing for woodworm and asbestos. Geoff Bailey managed the project for St Edmund's, and wrote us a weekly report. 

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At 10 pm on Saturday 6 June - a ridiculous time to make any announcement - the Government said we can start to reopen churches for Private Prayer.  It took about 25 hours of work to get St Matthew’s open. 6 hours to get the church empty of everything (books etc), 12 hours of cleaning, 4 hours of printing and laminating labels, and 3 hours to write a risk assessment to be signed off by the Archdeacon. The church re-open on Thursday 18 June, and was then open on  Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2pm until 4pm.

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Work continued on the Nave ceiling of St Edmund's. Plastering work continued, Michele the churchwarden donned a hard hat, and Geoff and Jill did a lot of cleaning in the tower. The area above the staircase was swept out, and the metal work holding the bells in place got a coat of paint. Then painting started on the ceiling too. Here are Geoff's reports for weeks 3 and 4. 


Some church groups met on zoom - this is St Matthew's choir - lots of phone calls were made and emails sent. Worship material was produced every week, and the Vicar's beard continued to grow. Peter posted a video message for Walter Evans pupils every week, looking at a different bible passage.

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So we move into the second half of a very strange year - the diary continues on a new page.

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