The Latest News From Around Capel

COVID-19 Briefing 09/07

I am enjoying ploughing through Judges at the moment in Morning Prayer even if it does make for difficult and depressing reading sometimes.  It was Gideon’s story that caught my attention recently.  I did smile, as I wondered if the angel of the Lord, having read our clergy well-being covenant, was taking a day off as he sat under the oak tree at Ophrah.  But what made me laugh was that the angel, on seeing Gideon, calls out to him, ‘The LORD is with you mighty warrior’ (Judges 6:12). 

At one level that is a ridiculous statement because we find him threshing wheat in a winepress of all places.  You crush grapes in a winepress, you don’t thresh wheat.  A wine press is normally set deep into the ground with high walls and you would normally thresh wheat out in the open air to allow the chaff to blow away leaving the precious grain.  Gideon is afraid that the Midianites will see him threshing wheat and come and steal this crop from him at a time of famine.  He is hardly behaving like a mighty warrior!  As the story continues, he declares himself as the weakest of the weakest, acts under the cover of darkness so as not to be seen and asks the Lord several times for signs to counter his nervous indecisiveness.  A mighty warrior – really!

However, on the other hand, the angel of the Lord recognises God’s call on Gideon’s life.  He sees the potential in Gideon, despite his indecisiveness, timidity, and nervousness, and identifies what Gideon, through the Lord’s gifting and call, will become.  It is of course all about God rather than Gideon, which is why Gideon’s army is whittled down to 300 before they enter into battle against the might of the Midianites. 

One of the delights of lockdown has been the way that many in our pews have stepped up and taken on greater responsibility than ever before, in ways that I suspect they never thought that they could.  This has been particularly true when it has involved the pastoral ministry of the church and our community focussed outreach, as well as the more techy side of things.  The level of involvement of the laity has grown hugely during this time, which is something to be celebrated and is one of the things we need to take with us into the future.

I wonder if many of us, like the angel of the Lord, have seen not just the potential in others, but also the real gifts that many have, during these past months.  How can we encourage this all member ministry to grow even more as we begin to emerge from lockdown?  Has the Lord revealed new callings on people’s lives?  How can you encourage and invite the Gideons in your congregation to consider a new calling because of the potential you have seen in them?

Archdeacon Martin

Critical Reading

New for this briefing

  1. Nationalguidance 
  2. Responding to Black Lives Matter as a Christian
  3. Follow up from Exploring Ministry Online
  4. Sunday Sermon 
  5. Updated FAQs on crematorium capacity, children and young people in church, as well as children and young people’s work and those who are vulnerable
  6. Last two Wednesday Webinars 

How might we respond as Christians to Black Lives Matter?

As Guildford Diocese looks to launch a new Racial Justice Focus Group to promote greater racial diversity within the Diocese of Guildford and its leadership, and to ensure that people from all racial backgrounds are enabled to fulfil their potential within the Body of Christ. Esther Prior speaks with her brother-in-law about the impact of ‘Black Lives Matter’ on her personally and how we might respond to it as Christians. Watch the interview here.

Exploring Ministry online
If you missed the excellent webinar on ‘Equipping You for Online Ministry’ hosted by the Communications and Mission Teams, then you can catch up online here.

If you want more information please email and we can forward some to you.

We asked you what you were intending to do for ministry over July in a quick poll on Facebook – 40 people responded and shows that each parish is doing what is right for them and their community. 

  • 55% are staying online only.
  • 40% are running a combination of online and in person services.
  • 5% are running in person services with a small online offering.

We are really keen on helping all parishes to think carefully and creatively about the next few months and years of ministry, and how best to serve both the new communities that have emerged in recent months, as well as our pre-existing communities. If you have ideas or questions please get in touch via and please keep your eyes peeled for future webinars.

As churches start to reopen, Bishop Andrew wanted to say thank you for everything you have done and will do. Please feel free to share his words or video with your parishes, your leadership and your community. 

Sunday Sermon 

Bishop Jo is preaching from Matthew 13.1-9,18-23, on Profligate Sowing for this week’s Sunday Sermon.

It will be on our website, our YouTube channel and in written form 

Diocesan FAQs

Your Questions answered

We warmly welcome all children and young people into our buildings as they explore and grow in their faith. Young children should be supervised by the parent or guardian and appropriate hygiene precautions followed. Places of worship can help remind children and young people, and their parents and guardians, of the important actions they should take during the COVID-19 outbreak to help prevent the spread of the virus. Posters on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website.

Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed and/or put out of use. Where young people or children are coming unaccompanied then we would advise consulting Safer Environment and Activities from the National Safeguarding Team, particularly section 2.10 Young People who attend church activities without their parents.

If you are collecting data for NHS Test and Trace the details of the parent or guardian of an accompanied young person or child need only be collected. For unaccompanied children or young people aged 13 years old or over, they can be asked to provide their details and sign the consent form, or make an individual booking where consent is required. You may need to explain to them what the data is being collected for so they understand what Test and Trace is about, rather than relying on them reading and understanding the privacy notice on their own.

Questions on Youth & Children’s Work
The National Youth Agency has changed its guidance for Youth and Children’s Work, downgrading from Red to Amber.

Please read it at National Church of England guidance has therefore also changed. Very limited children’s and youth work is permissible. Work should be fully risk assessed, and held in ‘Covid-19 Secure’ buildings.

Particular consideration should be give to anything that might normally be shared – toys, meeting spaces, toilet areas etc. Many churches are remaining online only since it is nearly the summer holidays, and the restrictions, particularly for younger children make working safely very difficult’ 

Clergy over 70
Following numerous inquiries regarding the status of clergy over 70 years of age, we confirm that, as those in the clinically vulnerable group, it is now possible for them to officiate. It is essential, however, that they only do so following full discussion with and agreement of their incumbent (or area dean in a vacancy) and that they assume full responsibility for the decision to offer ministry. (for further guidance for those with PTO who are over 70 please see here.)

How to cover Communion services
We are aware that with in-person services restarting some parishes may find there are communion services without an available member of clergy to take them. This may be because of individuals shielding, illness or holidays.
Where cover is needed for no more than a few weeks we recommend that you firstly investigate whether there is anyone within your parish or Deanery who would be able to cover the service. If no-one is available you then can arrange for cover using the clergy on call register (please note there is a charge for his service).
If you anticipate your parish being without a member of clergy for more than a few weeks e.g. if parish is in vacancy, please contact your Area Dean for further guidance.

Crematorium capacity
Please note that the crematoriums across Guildford Diocese have different socially-distanced attendee capacities, and that these are subject to change as restrictions ease/tighten. Please check with the funeral director and/or the crematorium itself to confirm what numbers are being accepted.
If you have a reasonable concern that a family may not keep to the numbers limit (whether at a crematorium or in a church) you are not obliged to take the funeral and must put your safety and the safety of crematorium staff (as well as that of the family itself) first.

Wednesday webinars

Wednesday 15th July at 2pm – Hosted by the Peter Harwood, Director of Mission – reflecting on the changing pattern of church life that Covid-19 has forced upon us, and what challenges and lessons that holds out for us for the future, as we seek to live out and proclaim the gospel in a post-Covid generation. Register here
Wednesday 22nd July at 2pm – Hosted by the Revd Dr Sam Wells on meeting God in the Exile of lockdown. Register here

Other training available this week

Join Guildford Deanery Synod tonight at 7.30pm on zoom to hear from Revd Margot Hodson, the environmentalist from the spiritual A Roche group (behind Eco Church) speaking on the Theology of Creation Care.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Rebecca Brown 
An opportunity to join the Digital Church Toolkit team tomorrow 10th July at 10:00am. Register here
They will outline the 3 things you need to know about your church’s website – with strategies, tips & ideas you can implement right away.

For the latest National guidance click here
For the latest Diocesan guidance click here
Next briefing will be issued on 14th July 2020

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St John The Baptist Church, Capel is a small friendly village church in the centre of the village. We are part of the Surrey Weald Team of parishes close to the south Surrey border with West Sussex. The other parishes in the team are St Peter’s, Newdigate, and St Mary Magdelene, South Holmwood. Our church offers a variety of worship, both separate and as part of the Weald Team.

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