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Parish Brief – 2nd February 2021


‘Now is the time to be sowing onions’.
It was a throw-away remark from a friend last week, which somehow stuck in the mind. At that point we were still in the middle of the forty days of Christmas (which draw to a close on the feast of Candlemas, which we celebrate today); and this particularly bleak midwinter was evidenced by the snow on the ground as I looked out of my study window. The idea of anyone planting anything at such a time seemed absurd. But my friend knows a thing or two about gardening, and I had no reason to doubt him. Now is the time to be sowing onions.
It was the Area Deans who gave me some idea of what that might look like as we met together on a zoom call yesterday morning. No-one was minimising the challenges of this season in the life of our church and wider communities (not to mention the personal challenges it’s throwing up).  No-one was unrealistic about the complexities of a gradual return to some kind of normality. But as we began to address the question, ‘What might a post-pandemic church look like, and how should we prepare for it?’ there was a real energy to our discussions, and a sense of renewed hope. True, things won’t be the same, everyone agreed that. But do we want them to be the same? Does God? Or may this prolonged crisis give us the opportunity for new vision, fresh thinking, based on all we’ve been learning along the way? Is now the time to be sowing onions?
It’s a theme we will be exploring further as we look towards the season of Lent; and it’s prompted a prayer that I’m finding myself praying most days, based on the words of Isaiah 43:19:
‘Lord, you are doing a new thing. Help us to perceive it’.

Bishop Andrew

Critical updates

A call to pause, pray and reflect

A #prayerforthenation is shared across social media each day at 6pm – these are available to download here. We are encouraged to join the collective prayer at 6pm tonight and every night in February, following a weekly pattern.

Tonight we are invited to pray for the elderly, isolated and vulnerable:

  • We echo God’s commitment to those most at risk of this virus by praying today for those who are particularly vulnerable and isolated: praying for their deliverance, protection and comfort
  • We hold before God those who care for them – that they would be strengthened and encouraged in this work

2020 Statistics for Mission data submissions

A big thank you to all those who have completed their 2020 data submissions to the National Church using the online parish returns system.  While the usual deadline for completion would be 31 January, this year’s final closing date for this year’s data entry is Easter. 

The National Statistics team recognises that 2020 has been a very difficult year so they have tried to shorten the form and just collect what is essential and/or easy for churches to tell them about. They do want to celebrate what has been going on this year and have included some questions regarding online services.

You can find an FAQ here and if you have any further questions please get in touch with the Parish Coordination Team at

As we approach Lent 2021, we have created a Lent 2021 campaign page on our website to host all information, resources and ideas.

This page will be kept updated with the latest information including:

  • What to expect from the Diocese
  • Resources for Children & Families
  • Resources for Schools
  • Information on how to support the Bishop of Guildford’s Community Fund Lent Appeal 

We will also be hosting a Wednesday Webinar on the 10th February at 7.30 filled with ideas on how to think creatively for Lent and Easter – click on the training link below to register. More details in the training section.

Lent 2021- Supporting the Bishop of Guildford’s Community Fund

The Bishop of Guildford’s Communities Fund makes grants of around £40,000 a year to parishes and charities which are reaching out to help the disadvantaged and vulnerable across the diocese.

The range of community projects funded includes those which support people with disabilities, mental ill-health, the isolated and marginalised, young families and older people. The Fund also supports training and skills programmes to help young people into work. It is financed by collections at licensing and confirmation services, by Lent giving and contributions from both individuals and parishes.

However, the Fund can only give away as much as it raises and because of the pandemic and the cancelling of many church services, its income is substantially down, so a major fund-raising appeal is being launched this Lent to enable this vital work to continue. To find out more about the Fund and examples of the projects it has supported, please go to

Each week in the Lent Parish Brief a short interview will be profiled with one of the funds recent beneficiaries.

Lent 2021 – See, I am doing a new thing (Isaiah 43.19)

This year we will be sharing:

  • The first Lent Parish Brief will be shared on Wednesday 17th Feb and then a weekly Lent Parish Brief will be issued every Monday including a reflection on our theme, See, I am doing a new thing.
  • prayers with the senior team, online 12.30-1pm every Wednesday in Lent
  • Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday 1st April at 11am 


Sign up link for the Lent Parish Brief

As you already receive the weekly Parish Brief you will receive the Lent Parish Brief. Please share the sign up link ( with anyone who would find comfort in receiving these Lent emails. 

For your information 

Did you miss a Wednesday webinar?

All of our webinars have been recorded an are available here 

Do you have a suggestion for a webinar?

Please let us know by emailing Peter Harwood, Director of Mission.

Sunday sermons will continue to be provided each week until at least Easter. 

Sunday Sermon

‘Theology in Lockdown’ is the theme of Bishop Andrew’s sermon this week, as he especially focusses on the lectionary epistle reading from Colossians 1:15-20. 

Dates, Events & Training

Church Buildings, Faculties, and Churchyards

3 February, 8-9.30pm

Each year, our diocese stages a training event for new churchwardens. This year (just like the Zoomitation!) it takes the form of a Zymposium over Zoom. This session will give tips and resources for all Churchwardens need to know on buildings including how to apply to make changes.

NEW Creative and 2021 friendly ideas for Lent & Easter
10 February, 7.30-8.30pm

Our Wednesday webinar will be thinking about creative and 2021 friendly ideas for Lent and Easter – covering Ash Wednesday on to lent prayer ideas and Holy Week and Easter. There will be ideas for multi-generation households, for adults and children, mid week and Sunday worship. We may even touch on some Thy Kingdom Come resources for Pentecost if we have time.
To Register for this practical and time saving webinar click below:

Weekly bitesize leadership formation in lockdown

Mondays, 12.30pm
There is still time to join our new weekly guided reflections on leadership for clergy and LLMs. Hosted on Zoom, the 30 minute weekly reflections will centre on scripture using Jonathan Sack’s brilliant book “Lessons in Leadership” and have time for discussion and prayer.

Net Zero Heroes

The Central CofE Environment Group has put together a veritable smorgasbord of webinars on all matters carbon, and the reduction of. If the recent Synod motion to achieve ‘Net Zero’ by 2030 has left you reeling, all the information you could possibly need is contained in these webinars, which have been recorded and can be viewed at your leisure.

From putting in an electric vehicle charge-point, to calculating carbon footprints and installing renewable heating, Jo and Catherine have the answers ready and waiting. 

Maxed-out incumbents, do not fear – the Diocesan Environment Group is likewise available to provide support and advice to you (or even better, your Net-Zero-PCC-subcommittee!)

Please contact our Diocesan Environment Adviser, for any help that’s needed.

Get the information as it happens

We have set up a Facebook Group, bringing together leadership across the diocese, to share best practice, to ask questions and encourage one another.

The next brief will be issued on Tuesday 9 February at 4pm. 

The post Parish Brief – 2nd February 2021 appeared first on The Parish of Capel and Ockley.

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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