By Gloria Benson, Holy Angels Community Projects Coordinator
Blessings to all readers as we slowly come out of the pandemic lockdown. Father Robin, Parish Priest for Holy Angels Catholic Church in Ash, spent the entire two lock downs live streaming Masses for his congregation on his own behind locked doors. He, along with our Deacon John Edwards, was more than pleased when we were allowed to open our doors for albeit, small numbers of attendees, while at the same time still live streaming for those Parishioners who were isolating or feeling vulnerable because of the high figures reported.
Holy Angels can currently accommodate up to about 70 people and in the coming weeks we are hoping to adjust the seating yet again to enable more Parishioners to attend the Masses as well as other sacraments like baptism, weddings and funerals. Our Youth and Confirmation Groups have, out of necessity, been conducted via Zoom and although it has served a purpose it really cannot replace our usual face to face meetings. The renewal of these meetings will be an absolute joy to the catechists leading these groups as well as getting all the social aspects of parish life to reawaken once again. Simple morning coffee will be a joyous occasion I am sure, and how amazing it will be to have music and singing again!
We must not under estimate the well-being effect of this pandemic on people reluctant to step out and back into our churches but we also must have complete and utter faith in the Holy Spirit knowing that if we ask he will act and walk beside us to gather in the lost and afraid. We are also very aware of local hardships with families and indeed if any Holy Angels Parishioners are experiencing acute hardship please do contact the parish office. Holy Angels is part of Churches Together in Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham and there are many outreach projects where we can point to help.
We will continue to adhere to strict Government guidelines of cleaning after services with church attendees sanitising their hands on the way in, wearing masks and signing in either on the track and trace barcode or physically filling in details. SO for those current Parishioners feeling a little nervous still you are INVITED to come and see and receive a warm hello and welcome and for those new to the Parish you are INVITED to come and see and again receive a warm hello and welcome.
By Revd Claire Holt
It is lovely to have a shared magazine and to get to know more about each of our churches! I am Claire, the vicar at St Paul’s where I have been part of the church family here for the past 9 years, whilst the church is just over 150 years old. I love the mix of all ages worshipping God and serving together. We like to encourage all to have a go at things and don’t mind mistakes!
We have a mix of services from traditional communion services at 8am and mid-week, through an informal Sunday service at 10am and then Messy Church monthly on a Thursday evening. Though most of this has been online recently or in packs!
We have good links to St Paul’s infant school and have seasonal events for children e.g. Exploring Christmas and Exploring Easter. Our aim is to be for all in the community, so we also have our monthly Fellowship lunch for retired, small groups for adults and events for all ages.
Our Sunday 10am service has groups for children and we love families worshipping together at our family services and as part of our groups online. On Sunday evenings we have a group for teens called The Hub.
We have a passion for the environment and supporting people in need (see later articles!).
And finally, we support a few local charities and mission organisations, including Step by Step and Phyllis Tuckwell. But our main mission link is with Blythswood Care. We have been linking up with a project in Romania as part of our services, collect shoe boxes for them and have a member of our church working for them which means she has been able to visit with her family – and excitingly we have been invited to take a group out there when it is possible to arrange too!
Our vision is to be a “growing community of faith” – welcoming and including all and helping everyone to encounter God’s love for themselves. We aim to resource people to live out their faith in everyday life, reflecting on God in the ordinary and everyday, and thinking about how we can serve Him wherever we are.
By Revd Keith Bristow & Revd Carol Monk
Warmest greetings from the Reverend Keith Bristow and the Revd. Carol Monk. We would like to tell you a bit about the church here, which has enabled people to worship God and serve others, for about 800 years.
We are a friendly bunch from all walks of life and all ages. As well as our weekly services we always have lots of other things going on – from our daily pre-school to events for those of more mature years! We are very excited about welcoming back lots of groups to our fantastic Parish Centre, now that COVID restrictions are lifting. Our facilities are available for hire for children’s parties, dance groups, U3A, uniformed organisations, craft groups and much more. As a church we hold a Summer Fete and a Christmas Fayre, monthly soup lunches, social evenings, quiz nights and afternoon teas, to name but a few. Prayer groups and Bible studies help us to get to know God better, and become the people He wants us to be.
We welcome many families who bring their children to be Christened (Baptised), and sometimes adults ask to be Christened too – you’re never too old! We enjoy celebrating weddings with couples setting out on the adventure of married life. We also offer Blessings for those not married in church, and renewal of vows for those celebrating special anniversaries. On a sadder note, we can be there for people when a loved one dies. We conduct funerals in church or, if preferred, at the Crematorium, and we tailor each service to reflect all that the person meant to their family and friends. Every November we invite families to a service to remember and give thanks for them all. We also have a caring Pastoral Team of trained volunteers who offer support too. You don’t have to be a regular church member for us to share in these life events with you – just contact us and we can take it from there.
Our worship is centred around Holy Communion but we also have a more informal family service each month and other types of relaxed worship from time to time. Whether you have been a Christian for years, or just want to explore what it’s all about, you will quickly feel at home with us, just come as you are! We look forward to meeting you soon.
May God bless you,
Revd Keith and Revd Carol