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Parish Brief – 5th January 2021

Hello <<First Name>>

The Morning Prayer lectionary reading yesterday was Isaiah 61, a familiar text which announces ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’. At the start of a new year – and (at least for BLT) our first working day back together – we reflected on our longing for God’s favour in 2021. What might it look like if we dare to dream of life post-pandemic? Whether despite or because of the renewed lockdown currently, and based on the conviction of God’s favour, we NEED to do some dreaming…
Isaiah 61 is a classic text that anticipates Israel’s return from exile. Even though the return is only fully fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (see Luke 4), even its original context has striking relevance for our current circumstances. God’s favour brings beauty out of ashes – in the form of good news for the oppressed, freedom for captives, comfort for all who mourn, and a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. I wonder if you could do with any (or all!) of those at the start of this new year?
The promise of Israel’s return from exile was a sign of God’s favour and equipping: not a magic ‘return to status-quo anti’ but a resourcing for the hard work of starting again. Israel’s life had not so much been paused by exile – it had been decimated and destroyed. The return was an opportunity as well as a promise – for learning some lessons, for reimagining corporate life and for rebuilding from ruins. What was rebuilt was not a replica of the old – at all – rather simpler, bolder, humbler, suited to a very different political and religious context. For example, now ‘strangers’ were present, feeding flocks and dressing vines: no longer excluded but included in God’s holy people in the new era. How might the exile of pandemic change what we rebuild and recreate, and who finds belonging? How might our life be simpler, bolder, humbler?
Surely the returning exiles had anxieties a bit like ours. What form(s) should worship take, online and in-person? How should we re-start children’s and youth work? Will funding be sufficient, not least if giving is all contactless? It might have been easy to rush in and rebuild as before, but instead they reimagined and reconfigured. A different era called for different practices. And so with us: how might we do different in full confidence that ‘the spirit of the Lord God is upon us’ continuing to bring favour and extend everlasting joy?

Bishop Jo

Critical updates

Government Guidance 

Following the Prime Ministers statement last night – national lockdown rules apply in England – in essense Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. 

Bishop Andrew wrote to all Clergy today in an Ad Clerum advising them on what this means for worship, taking care of each other and making sure all aspects of our lives are supported during this ever changing time. 

response from the Bishop of London was also issued last night. 

Government guidance on worship and Church of England guidance is expected to be updated in the coming few days.

We don’t have the answers as yet, so have kept the Tier 4 guidance and FAQ’s on our website. We anticipate that restrictions will be tightened in Lockdown but will share this when it is made available nationally. 


Key Worker eligibility

In the light of yesterday’s announcement on national lockdown and the move to remote learning for schools, the government has asked schools to continue to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Clergy (religious staff) are included in the government’s list of key workers so clergy who are parents with school aged children may be eligible for on-site schooling so this is worth considering especially for clergy with very young or primary aged children where it is not possible for them to be looked after within the home environment during the lockdown period.

Most schools are writing to parents to ask them to register as key workers so they can establish the need and demand for provision, so in the first instance, you should contact the school office to see if it is possible for your children to attend.

The government have also recently revised the criteria for vulnerable children to include those children who have difficulty engaging with remote education at home due to lack of access or IT equipment or suitable places to study, so clergy may also want to consider this.

More information is available here:

Supporting you with your online needs

We know, for a number of you, that another lockdown means embracing online church or hybrid church and that while we all have learnt a lot since March, there has still been a lot of change. 

If you need any advice, guidance or support with going online, please contact and we will do all we can to help you. We also know of a number of experts across our Diocese, and if you would like to be added to this list to support others, please email.  Our aim is to grow our knowledge together to enable an accessible church for everyone, supporting our communities during this very strange time. 

We are planning a refreshed Wednesday webinar on online church in a few weeks. Building on the one we held one in September, it will look to share best practice, invite specialists and enable you to ask practical questions. If you would like to participate, share your journey into the digital world or have any other ideas please let us know. More details will be available next week.  

Update on the Local Ministry Program and a call to action

Happy New Year from the Local Ministry Programme!  As you know, we train both lay and ordained ministers who assist with a parish’s life and worship.  Our academic year, like yours, has been disrupted but we have continued with online teaching and virtual ‘residentials’.  Hopefully in  we can return to something like a normal formational process soon.

I am getting in touch with a reminder about encouraging vocations.  If you have someone in the parish who might be exploring a vocation, or if even if you haven’t yet, please do think about the possibilities.  You may have recognised in a parishioner the potential to do or be something more: you may have sensed in them a desire to learn and develop their discipleship in a structured way.  LMP can help!  Further information is available on our webpage

The vocational journey begins slowly for some, a direct conversation can work, for others a drop-in to visit a teaching session is a more useful (and anonymous) way to see what ministry training involves.  We can do this easily by Zoom if not in person.  So, if you have someone in mind whom you think would benefit from a conversation about the vocational journey, our diocesan vocational advisor is always happy to meet and discuss possibilities

Also, for those who want to do some more structured learning, we open up some of our modules to any interested learners from parishes – they just join the existing class group to deepen their knowledge.

Finally, a reminder about dates, if you do have someone that you think is ready to proceed with the next stage of the discernment process, there is quite a long lead-in time.  For potential ordinands, the typical lead-in is about 9 months to a year.  For Licensed Lay Ministers it can be shorter, but there is still an application process which takes around 3 months.  

The dates for LLM selection are 20th March and 8th May 2021.  Please contact Helen Roche, the Selection Secretary, for an application pack using  Now is the time to act if you have a prospective candidate!

Please do come back to me with any questions.
With best wishes for this New Year
Steve Summers

For your information

Training including Wednesday Webinars

We are currently considering our training provision this term, in particular our Wednesday Webinar offering.   If there are any specific areas of training you would consider helpful, please send an email to Peter Harwood, Director of Mission

Licensing services

The intention is for these to continue with a small defined group at the service with streaming for everyone else. We will be in touch directly with those being held in January to finalise and support. 

 Resources and FAQs

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

Sunday Sermon

‘Who do you think you are?’ is the theme of Bishop Andrew’s sermon for this Sunday, based on the lectionary readings for Epiphany 1, including the story of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:4-11; and what does it mean to be ‘God’s Beloved’?

Transcript here and to download directly click here 
Clergy Study Day on the 27th Jan has been postponed in light of current situation. 

This is a list of training or events or important dates to remember

Monday 11th January – Friday 15th January 
A free five-day challenge with the Digital Church Toolkit team will help you: 

  • Develop a communication strategy that underpins the unique vision & calling of your Church
  • Overcome the biggest comms mistake every Church makes.
  • Decide which platforms you should be pouring resources into.
  • Establish a routine of management and posting, reducing stress.
  • Make a plan happen whilst keeping your team and leaders onboard.

Sign Up

Torch Trust, the Christian sight loss charity,  are holding free 30-minute Taster sessions about becoming a Sight Loss Friendly Church (SLFC). 
Thursday 21st January 2pm
Tuesday 26th January 2pm
Tuesday 23rd February 7pm
Wednesday 24th February 2pm
Thursday 18th March 2pm
Tuesday 23rd March 2pm. 
These interactive Zoom sessions offer an opportunity to hear about all the benefits of this free resource, as well as a chance to meet the SLFC team and ask questions. Visit or email for more information & to book your place.  

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 post Parish Brief – 5th January 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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