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Good news stories

At this challenging time, we all need to gather as much positivity as we can. Please see below some good news stories from around the diocese, describing some of the positive things that have occurred during this time.

Two members of our congregation – Christine Hall and Karen Bridgen – decided that with church 'closed' they would put a display of the cross and empty tomb in the foyer surrounded by flowers. For Easter Sunday, the words 'Alleluia. Christ is risen' were then hung on the gates. However, the letters are cut up using an atlas, so that the words cover every single country in the world. The message can clearly be seen from the main road.

On the gates as well we have placed a pouch containing a laminated A6 Easter prayer for people to take away, as we get a number who pass the gates – taking exercise and walking their dogs. Even though the church is 'closed' we are still using it to proclaim with joy the Easter message!

Revd Mark Bridgen
Rector of All Saints Church Paston

I just thought that I would share with you some of the things that we enjoyed as we learn how to our worship our God in new ways, which we have been finding very encouraging and refreshing in these challenging times. 

I am sharing three links with you. 

The first is our Abington Church Family Bible Drama Challenge. During lockdown each family is encouraged to produce their creative expression of a particular Bible story. It was very well received by the congregation during our worship. Here is the Palm Sunday drama by the Canfields –

The second is our virtual choir. Each member of the choir sang an anthem in their own homes, and then they were all put together into one which was played during our Worship Online. The link is here –

The third is just a link to our Worship Online video which starts from 8 min 30 secs in case you want to watch the whole thing –

We as a church have been finding God's goodness and grace and the good news in these times as we continue to explore new ways of worship. 

Revd Byung Jun Kim
Rector of St. Peter & St. Paul, Abington, Northampton
Chaplain of St. Christopher's Care Home, Northampton

Other than the general extra grace with which I think we're treating one another (which is much welcomed) I think one of the best things is the new connections being made with other 'people of peace' (Luke 10 and other places).

We're working with a scheme run through the parish council, designed to ensure nobody is without supplies of food or medicine etc. And whilst we're helping with the practical needs, we're also offering our pastoral care services. We're working together with others in the village we haven't really even chatted to before, creating connections and positive experiences of each other. It also means we are very slowly beginning to make contact with people we cannot reach through social media or poster – in many cases those most isolated and most in need. But we've a long way to go.

It's also caused us to quickly do jobs we've been working on slowly – being much more proactive about ensuring everyone is connected to a Connect group, and redesigning our pastoral care system to make it much more robust and expandable. 

This situation has also made the whole church far more IT friendly. Our 93 year old retired vicar is now accessing our live streamed and recorded services via our Facebook page, we have a group of 14 ladies who now meet via Skype, my study is now a recording studio (well almost) and others are now contributing more and more. When normal service resumes, we won't forget all of this, and will (I hope) put it all to good use.

I am also prayerfully expecting a very spiritually powerful Holy week. Bittersweet it will be (very suitable for the mixed emotions of Holy Week) and will really draw us in close to the power of what the week is all about. Being apart will make us draw together, a bit like how sometimes whispering makes people listen harder.

Revd James Pennington
Rector of Holy Trinity Deanshanger and St Guthlac's Passenham

Our positive story is of Waitrose Wootton, who contacted both me and Revd Lakshmi Jeffries, vicar of Wootton, offering care packages for local vulnerable people. Both Lakshmi and I have linked up the local support groups to ensure that all those who are needing that bit extra will receive help. The pictures are the first delivery of food to Hardingstone for our support group to take out.

The cross pictures are from a bigger and growing collection. I'm doing 'virtual worship' using WhatsApp. I lead morning prayer every weekday and worship on Sundays at 11am. These are available on our website (and as a document too) but the live version is growing in popularity. This way, people can respond to and post prayer requests together, watch YouTube clips of songs at the same time and see films of the vicar offering a short talk. It's been a great way for people to come together

In preparation for Palm Sunday, I've challenged everyone to make a cross in whatever way they like, and have it ready to hold up during the Sunday service. I'm hoping for toddler Duplo crosses and junk modelling, and have already seen a lovely selection of crosses.

Canon Beverley Hollins
Rector of Living Brook Benefice and Rural Dean of Greater Northampton