2020 July to December in the churches

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July would have started with a special service and a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Peter's Ordination. That will have to wait as both churches are closed for Public Worship due to Covid-19. The Order of Service for worship on the Sunday after the Feast of St Thomas included this topical cartoon (source unknown).

July saw Church Magazines back in printed form after two months when they were only available on-line. We have posted 70 to people on church lists who are not currently subscribers. It is a useful way of keeping in touch, and we hope for some new subscriptions.

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Ceiling work continued in St Edmund's. In week 5 the painters finished the ceiling, we looked at the remains of the old organ loft, and a blackbird has nested in our quiet porch. The work was completed in week 6. Geoff's progress report for weeks 5 and 6 are here. 

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Week 7 saw more cleaning and painting. One major job was the heating ducts - we even found some pre-decimal coins! The full report is here. 

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St Matthew's was open for Prayer and Quiet three afternoons a week with a steady flow of people. New noticeboards were erected - the end of laminating posters and the staple gun. Our first service was Ian's funeral on Monday 13 July. When we locked the church after Evensong on Sunday 15 March, we didn't think it would be four months before we reopened the building. At the end of that week we caught a glimpse of our church as Gardener's World visited the hydrangea garden in Darley Park.

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We had a service of Communion at St Matthew's on Sunday 19 July. Just 23 of us, but it was good to be back. 

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JACK at St Edmund's met on zoom and made bunting based on the Parable of the Sower.

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At the end of the summer term, St Edmund's Pre-school used the Vicarage garden for their end of year farewell and Peter went to Walter Evans to say goodbye to the Year 6s as they moved up. We held another service of Communion at St Matthew's on Sunday 26 July, with 30 in the congregation. On Monday 27 July School's Out started their Holiday Scheme in the Church Hall, and Caroline (our church administrator) was back in the Office. Risk assessments and re-opening statements were produced for both churches (St Matthew's on the left, St Edmund's on the right)

A lot of hard work went into getting St Edmund's ready for worship. Here is the final report - huge thanks to everyone involved. Our first service in the building was on Sunday 2 August, and we had 42 people. It was lovely hearing the organ playing again (with David on the keyboard), to share the sacrament, to pray and worship together (while remembering that most of our regular congregation was not present, and that some of our friends are worshipping "on another shore and in a greater light" to quote the Carol Service). Alex and Matt took some video.

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We worked through August with a Communion service in one church on a Sunday and Morning Prayer in the other. Face coverings were made compulsory - Peter wants Matt's High Speed Train mask - and names had to be taken for Track and Trace. We cannot use Service Booklets or hymn books, so Peter and Caroline are producing a separate sheet for every Sunday and they are placed on the pews before we all arrive. David, Geoff or John have played the organ for us, even though we can’t sing hymns. In order to reduce infection risk, Peter is preparing the altar and clearing up afterwards, and we are only taking communion in one kind. The person who leads the prayers also reads a lesson (again that reduces infection risk). We are unable to offer lifts to church. The services, sermons and prayers are on the church website every week. We are ensuring that envelopes and money are left in the safe for a few days to ensure any virus has died, and the contactless giving machine is available. Both churches were open during the week as well on different afternoons for "Prayer and Quiet."

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Most of our wedding couples have postponed until 2021, but Shaun and Georgina were married at St Edmund's on 22 August and Thomas and Sally on 29 August. Shaun and Georgina had 30 guests, Thomas and Sally 16. Sally arrived at church ten minutes early - and as everyone was present, we made a start. In 25 years of being a priest, this is the first Wedding Peter has known start early!

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September started with Morning Prayer at St Edmund's and Holy Communion at St Matthew's - and will continue with the same pattern through the month at 10 am. First Sunday is Food Bank Sunday - so Mike and Shirley collected at St Edmund's, then drove to St Matthew's at the end of the service and collected from there, then returned to Primrose's Book Shed at the Vicarage to collect what had been left there - and took a car load to the Hope Centre the following day. Thank you!

Another sign of normality was that both Parochial Church Councils met for their meeting - held in church, socially distanced and Covid-secure.

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The Friends of St Matthew's met in church for their annual service and AGM. Peter spoke about John Bunyan and his words "I have often thought that the best Christians are found in the worst of times."

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Once again we were involved in the Scarecrow Festival, which had a Disney theme. Amy, Colin, Louis and Horatio produced Friar Tuck, and Michele added some other Merry Men. Captain Hook was at the Red Cow, St George at St Nick's, and Amy and Colin had produced "One of our dinosaurs is missing" on their front drive.

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Julie and Peter went for a five mile walk to see as many as possible - though we didn't manage all 26. We won the prize for the Best Community Group Entry. The Festival raised almost £600 for two cancer charities. It was a pleasure to be involved. 

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St Edmund's choir sang for our morning service on Sunday 13 September, and then we had our first baptism since we re-opened.. Welcome to Harper - just a few people, all masked, and Peter is not even allowed to hold the baby. We married Pete and Sophie on Saturday 19 September - with Just-Ice before their reception in the Hall.

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Peter's friend Anne has spent lock-down researching all the names on the Allestree War Memorial and Roll of Honour. She came with the fruits of her labour - for which we are very grateful. We will get copies made for the Local History Society and the Local Studies library. 

St Matthew's celebrated their Patronal Festival, the Feast of St Matthew, on Sunday 20 September with a congregation of 38. This carving is at the National Memorial Arboretum - one of a set of the 12 apostles, carved by ex-Royal Marine and Shropshire woodcarver Jim Heath. 

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We hosted the Derby Organists' Association for an evening masterclass by Tom Corfield. Everything was done safely, and the evening was filmed. You can watch it on youtube and read the handout.

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We now have extra notices up in both churches, with QR codes for track and trace. 

Derby Rotary have planted 200 purple Crocus bulbs in the St Matthew's churchyard to mark Polio Awareness - here are Les, Sue and churchwarden David working hard.

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Stuart and Sarah got married on Friday 2 October, just 15 people are allowed under the new Covid regulations, but it still a special day. 

We spread Harvest over two weekends in both churches, but it wasn’t the same without “We plough the fields and scatter”. Ralph was baptised at St Edmund's - this photo is by mattoakley.co.uk.  We are only allowed six at a baptism, so we just had his parents and four Godparents. Then we had an open air Christian Aid service at St Edmund's. The Food Bank collection from both churches was busy too. Here are photos of the displays in both churches.

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Annual Parochial Church Meetings are supposed to take place in April, but they didn't happen this year. Every year we have to produce an Annual Report - St Edmund's is on the left, St Matthew's on the right. They were 90% complete when lockdown started, but the world has changed. At St Edmund's Patrick ended his term as churchwarden, but no-one was willing to replace him. We reflected on a very interesting few months, and wondered what the future holds. "Nothing can separate us from the love of God."

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There was an arson attack on St Mary's School, the Roman Catholic school in Darley Abbey. They coped with amazing resilience and faith. On Wednesday 14 October we got this lovely photo of St Matthew's. In the early hours of Thursday morning our neighbours woke to see that there was a fire at St Matthew's. Our shed was destroyed, but no major damage was done to the church or Fellowship Room.

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Will and Karen were married at St Matthew's on Saturday 17 October. Peter liked the car.

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We celebrated the Feast of St Luke on Sunday 18 October. We had our first Choral Evensong at St Matthew's - 19 in the choir, plus organist, vicar and 18 in the congregation. Peter rang the bell to welcome us in. It was a very special service, a time of prayer and peace at the end of a difficult week. 

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On Saturday evening, 31 October, the Prime Minister announced a new National Lockdown would start in a few days, so we met for worship on All Saints' Day, Sunday 1 November, feeling rather knocked back and confused. Normally we would have had an All Souls' service in the afternoon. We write to all the next of kin of those for whom we have done funerals in the last year and invite them to a Commemoration.  With 61 funerals that is more people than we could safely welcome into either church, so we had sent them all an Order of Service. Peter went into St Edmund's on Monday 2 November (All Souls' Day) and read/prayed the list of names. 

Lockdown came in on Thursday 5 November. 16 people shared communion on Wednesday 4 November. We decided to anticipate Remembrance - the first reading was from 1 Timothy 2 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity." It seemed appropriate the day after the American Election, and as governments round the world fight Covid. 

Matt and Nicole were due to be married at St Matthew's on Saturday 7 November. On a couple of days notice, we moved it to Wednesday 4th. Matt and Nicole both work in schools, so came after work - and were back at work the following morning. We send them our love and prayers. 

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In preparation for Remembrance Sunday we had to accept it is reckless to meet together - the letter from Derby City Council is attached as part of our history. Yet we can still decorate our churches, prepare worship material (also attached), share material prepared by others, and stand by our front doors to remember. Peter prepared a video for Walter Evans School, and St Edmund's Pre-school taught the youngest of our children about the need to remember (our thanks to them for permission to post these photos). 

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JACK, Children's Church at St Edmund's met on Zoom on Sunday 15 November and read the story of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. St Edmund's PCC met on Zoom on Tuesday 17 November - they did not have an exciting story to read, nor craft to make. 

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We started a Zoom service on Advent Sunday 29 November. About 70 people joined in and another 40 watched the youtube video later on - the service is archived on the "Worship while our buildings were closed" page. Caroline, our Church Administrator, lit the first candle on the Advent Wreath with her children Noah and Grace. 

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We were back in both churches on Sunday 6 December and met on Zoom as well. Annabelle found Peter's sermon absolutely fascinating. In the afternoon we baptised Oliver, with parents Thomas and Sarah, and brothers Joshua and Jacob.

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The Church Office was a hive of industry as we produced 400 Christmas cards and arranged delivery. We also produced Christingle bags as we had a Zoom Christingle on Sunday afternoon 13 December. The photos are all posted with permission. 

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Louise spent a day producing Christmas bags for the ladies and gentlemen of St Edmund's Lunch Club. The broomstick nativity figures, which are usually handled on Christmas Eve, were displayed in the Fellowship Room. All the children at Walter Evans School took part in a Zoom Christingle with Peter, and a video went to Portway School. Matt spent some time in the churches taking photos and film, 

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Sunday 20 December saw two services, one in each church, with about 30 people in each, and a Zoom service at 11.30. In addition, the families of St Edmund's had a Nativity Play on Zoom, while the families of St Matthew's had a Nativity and Christingle on Zoom. 

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St Nick's church had organised a Window Trail round Allestree, and Pre-school and the Garratt family have joined in. Broadway Baptist Church produced a Hedge of Hope.

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We produced a Christmas video, as well as a video of the Zoom service every Siunday (you can find those on the Worship lock-down page under the Archive tab). Although we couldn't have our Crib services on Christmas Eve we tried to keep in touch. 

Just one Midnight Mass this year at St Edmund's with 22 people. The church looked beautiful. On Christmas morning we had two communion services - with 30 people at St Edmund's and 15 at St Matthew's. Then we had a Zoom service with about 45 people, and the video of the service was watched about 20 times - including by the residents at Stanley House. A very different Christmas, but one with a little more time to think and pray. 

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On the final Sunday of the year we normally have one United Service. In this strange year, we ended the year with three services! One in each church and a service on Zoom. David, one of our St Edmund's organists, recorded a Christmas medley to end the service. Was there another church anywhere in the country which ended their 2020 worship with "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus"?