Distrist News – 31 March 2020

This Week’s News

It has been heartening to see the number of churches engaging with technology to help their congregations continue to feel connected with each other.

If your own church hasn’t taken the plunge yet, There are many already on facebook that you can follow – either complete services or individuals offering prayer and reflections. Let the office know if it would be helpful to have a link to all that is going on across the District.

You can read Gill’s pastoral letter here: 29 March

Who is allowed into our church building?

Cleaning? gardening? maintenance? builders? decorators? security?

New guidance has been issued by the Connexional Property Support team on Monday 30 March. Please read before allowing anyone into your building for any purpose

https://www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/property/coronavirus-guidance-for-property/

Employment Issues

Guidance, FAQs and a template “furlough” letter are now available on our website https://www.sheffieldmethodist.org/coronavirus-lay-employment-support/ . Please keep us in the loop about how you are responding on employment matters to the COVID-19 situation, so that when governmental schemes or other guidance change we can quickly get latest advice to the employers likely to be affected.

Neil Harland and Rob Cooper have also set up Q&A sessions for Line Managers, using the Zoom video conferencing software. If you are a line manager, but have not been invited to these, please let the District Office know, so you can be included in future sessions.

The Line Managers Support Meeting which was going to be taking place in Leeds on 29 April now be virtual – again using Zoom. Details for how to register/find the link will follow next week.

The Lay Workers Networking Event on 28 April will also be virtual – full details will follow once we have worked out how to do this!

Sad News

We are starting to receive news of deaths due to the Coronavirus. We would hold all who have been affected by this in our prayers, especially as they are likely to have been separated due to the restrictions currently in place.

Stories of Hope from Whirlow Spirituality Centre

Sarah is part of the community at Whirlow and has been rebuilding the Cairn on our front lawn. She and her son, Ed, who is brain-injured, were happy to work on it together during these quiet days. They finished it on Monday, just before rules about isolating became stricter and the Centre closed completely

Read their story here.

Chairs looking for a new home

Do you want some chairs? Hemsworth, in Barnsley Circuit have 95  and need to find homes for them in the next 10 days. before their building work starts. You would need to have them collected.

Ring Elizabeth Haigh on 01977 614771 if you can offer them a home.

Learning and Development during COVID-19 pandemic

Whilst most of our activities are closed down and many of us are self isolating there are lists of websites and Youtube links offering us distraction activities, games to play, fitness exercises and endless films and ‘box-sets’ to view.  We had thought that our Learning and Development activities might close too and, of course, any planned group events, courses and conferences have been cancelled or postponed.  But that doesn’t mean that learning must stop; indeed this may be a great opportunity to take up some of those things you have thought about…’If only I had time to….’ or ‘I would love to….. but I don’t have time’.

However, there are many free learning opportunities available to us, using the web and social platforms.  For example, you may want to set up – or continue – a book group, where everyone reads a chapter of a book and then talks about it via Skype or Zoom or Facebook.  Or you may want to set up a virtual ‘house-group’ to share a course, or materials, using one of the social media platforms as a meeting place.

On the other hand you might want to use the opportunity to take up some individual study, reflection or exploration. This enforced isolation means we don’t have to feel guilty about not attending a meeting or going to see someone; the time could be used to develop knowledge, skills or become more informed about an aspect of life or faith.

There is a great deal of information on our website: https://www.sheffieldmethodist.org/category/learning-development-sheffield-district/  Many of the resources and opportunities are free of charge. Similarly, there are free ‘courses’, many of them ‘bite-sized’ which are offered by the Open University.  https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses/full-catalogue  Taking up a learning opportunity to help what we might do to support our health and well-being during stressful times – as now – could not only help to pass the time but also help us to stay safe and well.

Should you need funds to purchase books, study packs or resources, there is money available from the Learning and Development group; just fill in a simple form following the accompanying guidance and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.  The groups continues to meet ‘virtually’.  https://www.sheffieldmethodist.org/grants-for-learning-and-development-opportunities/

See COVID 19 as a gift of time and use it to learn and develop yourself and your faith!

Yorkshire Plus Learning Network

The Yorkshire Plus team have sent out a newsletter with information on where to access resources for home worship, and where you can find both nourishment and peace for the troubled mind. It also has updates on events which have been cancelled or postponed.

If it is information on corona virus you need – for your church; what to do about baptisms and funerals; how to support your foodbank, you can find it here

You can read the full newsletter here: Spring 2020

Methodist News

The Well – Children, Youth & Families

The arrival of Coronavirus is having a great impact on the whole of life and we are all acclimatising to new ways of being, particularly as we distance ourselves socially and self-isolate when unwell.

As we move into this new era of creating community and gathering together, we are finding ways to remain in close contact, growing faith together in virtual spaces with children young people and families.

To help you with this, the Children, Youth and Families team has created a whole new set of pages for its section of the Methodist website.

This section includes step-by-step guidance, including safeguarding advice, for moving your children’s/youth meetings online.

In addition to these pages, you might also want to visit the newly created pages to support continuing mission during this time, which includes a page on talking to young people.

Finally for now, three new Facebook groups have been set-up to encourage communities of practice and support for the duration of the epidemic:

Advice from the ICO regarding Data Protection

As we enter these unprecedented times, please be careful to ensure that data protection does not take a back seat when it comes to changing our working practices and dealing with data protection issues in general. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have released a useful list of FAQ’s many of which will apply to Managing Trustees.

Read more

A prayer

The Revd Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference writes:

Loving God,

If we are ill, strengthen us.

If we are tired, fortify our spirits.

If we are anxious, help us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.

Help us not to stockpile treasures from supermarkets in the barns of our larders.

Don’t let fear cause us to overlook the needs of others more vulnerable than ourselves.

Fix our eyes on your story and our hearts on your grace.

Help us always to hold fast to the good,

See the good in others,

And remember there is just one world, one hope,

One everlasting love, with baskets of bread for everyone.

In Jesus we make our prayer,

The one who suffered, died and was raised to new life,

In whom we trust these days and all days,

Amen.