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Letter to Churches March 2021

March 18th, 2021

Dear Friends,

Following the First Minister’s latest briefing on Friday March 12th and its interpretation for places of worship received from Cytûn this week my colleagues and I have met to discuss what should be our recommendation to churches concerning worship for the month of April onwards.

We have given consideration to the current state of affairs with regard to coronavirus in Cardiff and Caerphilly.  We have also sought guidance from the Circuit-based team of advisors who assisted us when we first began to put together covid risk assessments for worship last Summer.  Bearing all this in mind, we have decided to suggest that churches may consider a cautious return to face-to-face worship from the beginning of April should they feel that it is the right time for them to do so.  This is dependant on the managing trustees revisiting their Covid Safety Risk Assessment, making adjustments to take into account current advice, especially as it relates to the new, more infectious variants of the virus, and satisfying themselves that the church is able to deliver and abide by the required safety measures.

I offer the following points for your consideration:

  1. At the heart of our Circuit approach from the beginning has been that no Minister, Preacher, member or congregation should be expected to do something which makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Congregations should only return to their buildings for worship when there is a conviction among the trustees that the time is right. This will differ from congregation to congregation;
  2. With this in mind, I ask Church Stewards, with their Ministers, to begin a conversation regarding if and when their congregation may wish to return to face-to-face worship. It is important that those who “manage” the risk at such gatherings feel willing and able to do so before any decision to reopen is taken.  Churches should not reopen if there are not an adequate number of people available to oversee the safety measures;
  3. Risk Assessments for worship must be revisited and revised as deemed appropriate. All the mitigating factors we had before – strict social distancing, provision of hand sanitizer, face masks to be worn by everyone over the age of 11, no singing – will continue, with additional thought being given to protecting worshippers against the current virus threat in Wales.  An important emphasis in recent guidance is increased ventilation (during and after worship).  Care should be taken in ensuring all aspects of the Risk Assessment are put into operation;
  4. Congregations which do seek to reopen need to be aware that we may not be able to provide a planned preacher every Sunday. We will not be planning any Minister or Preacher to lead a “live” service in more than one venue per day because of the possibilities of transmitting the virus between communities. This may result in conversations about churches being open less frequently than weekly and/or of covid safe ways in which Local Arrangements may be delivered.  For the foreseeable future at least one online worship service will be available every Sunday across the Circuit;
  5. As a result of the ongoing uncertainty of our situation we will continue for the foreseeable future to issue a monthly preaching plan, rather than quarterly;
  6. We are reminded that at the moment organized children’s activities are not permitted and, as the government continues to assess the impact of returning to school on our communities, we should not be providing separate children’s sessions such as Junior Church;
  7. Since Wales went into Tier 4 restrictions in December there has been a ban on outdoor worship unless it is on the church’s own grounds. This has not yet been lifted.  The Welsh Government has been approached to ask if it will consider lifting the ban but we are unlikely to hear if they have before the next three-weekly briefing due on April 2nd (Good Friday);
  8. The current regulations as they pertain to churches can be found on Cytûn’s website by following this link COVID 19 – Papur Briffio – Eglwysi Ynghyd yng Nghymru | Churches Together in Wales (cytun.co.uk)

I would be grateful if churches could inform me via their Ministers as soon as possible whether/when they would seek to return to face-to-face worship so we can plan accordingly. I am happy to have conversations with any Church/Stewards who need further information.

I close with a sobering thought shared by members of the Circuit’s Covid Advisory Group who, while agreeing that it is reasonable now to consider reopening churches, also cautioned that the greatest risk we face at the moment is complacency.  Lower infection rates and more people vaccinated do not mean coronavirus is no longer dangerous. As we move forward slowly and carefully let our concern be for each other and the wider communities in which we live and worship.

Yours in Christ,

Cathy

Posted by LIsa Medina

Letter to Churches January 2021

Please find below a letter from Rev. Cathy Gale.

January 4th, 2020

Dear Friends,

I wish for you all God’s blessings in this New Year.  As 2021 begins, there is no doubt that we will face some challenges (and we already are!) but I pray you will know the hope of our faith in your hearts – God is with us and better days are ahead.

This correspondence comes to bring you up to date on a few matters:

1. Public Worship

The current Tier 4 restrictions in Wales do allow gathering for public worship but this is just a reminder that we have decided there will be no public worship planned for by the Cardiff Circuit at least for the month of January.  This difficult decision was taken based on the alarmingly high transmission rates of the Covid virus in Wales and our perception that we could not mitigate risks enough to feel confident that we would not put worshippers and leaders of worship at risk.  Equally importantly, we felt that we should do our bit to help protect the NHS at this extremely challenging time.

Please note that this does not enforce such a decision on other denominations which may use our premises for worship. Such a decision would need to be made between the denomination (following its own risk assessment review) and the managing trustees of the building.

As we receive the government review(s) of the current Tier 4 arrangements in Wales we will review our decision on public worship across the Circuit and keep you informed of future decision.

2. Alternate Arrangements for Worship

There are several online alternatives for worship on Sunday mornings provided by our ministers and others.  All of these are “open” to be joined and, while originating in a particular church or cluster, are by no means exclusive.  Please let folks know that they can contact Lisa at the office or any of the ministers directly if they wish to join a particular Zoom worship.  Other services produced locally are available on Facebook and YouTube, with some being placed on the Cardiff Circuit Facebook page.

It is my hope that we can continue to meet monthly on Zoom for evening worship as a Circuit.

We are constantly working to make worship resources available for those who don’t have access to technology or don’t feel confident using it and we are grateful for all your help in spreading the word.

3. A Methodist Way of Life Course

One good thing to come out of 2020 was studying together in Bible Studies and the like.  We are offering a new course for January/February entitled “A Methodist Way of Life”.  It’s a challenge to think about how our faith affects our day to day living and complements the start to a new year, renewing our Covenant and what looks like several weeks where restrictions will enable us to have a bit more time for reflection!  There are resources on the Methodist Church website if you’d like more information, but the ministerial staff will deliver the course over Zoom on Monday evenings at 7:30pm for six weeks, beginning January 11th.  Please spread the news widely and ask people to contact Lisa or their minister for Zoom login details.

4. Morning Session on Pioneer Ministry – Saturday January 30th

For just over a year we have had the Rev. Judith Holliman in our circuit and she serves as a Pioneer Minister, with a specific focus on the Plas Dŵr estate near Radyr.  On Saturday January 30th from 10am to 12pm we will be hosting an open session on pioneer ministry – what it is and how it might give insights for ways of doing God’s work wherever we may be.  Speakers will include Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, Rev. Simon Sutcliffe (Chester and Stoke District Learning Network and Pioneer) and Judith, our own pioneer.  Please could people contact Lisa or Judith for log in details.

5. Paul Martin’s Sabbatical

All ministers in the Methodist Church are encouraged to take a sabbatical every seven years for rest, reflection and renewal.  Paul is actually overdue in receiving his and Synod have granted him permission to be on sabbatical leave from mid January to mid April 2021.  While he is off, the other staff members will look after the congregations under his pastoral care as follows:

Conway Road – Alana and Alexis
Ely – Judith
St. Paul’s – Kofi
Pontprennau – Cathy

We wish Paul all the best for a good and productive time.

Every blessing to you and the congregations as we look forward to a year ahead under God’s guidance and care.  Please feel free to be in touch if there are any questions about any of the above.

Yours in Christ,

Cathy

Posted by LIsa Medina

January Worship

Please find below a letter from Rev. Cathy Gale, that was sent out to Churches regarding Worship in person during January 2021.

December 16th, 2020
Dear All,
I hope this letter finds you well and anticipating our celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Two thousand years ago he came quietly and without fanfare and this year we are forced to strip back our celebrations due to covid restrictions.  I can’t help wondering if there may be something positive to found in that stripping back – might we meet the Christ-child anew when we have less to distract us?
I write to let you know that the Circuit Staff, with the support of the Circuit Stewards, have taken a decision to close all our churches for public worship during the month of January.
As I write, the First Minister has just announced that from December 28th Wales will enter Level 4 restrictions, which is the equivalent of a Lockdown.  This Level does allow places of worship to remain open but given all we have heard recently about the levels of virus in our communities, the critical strain on the NHS and Welsh Ambulance Service and the anticipated spike to follow the increased household mixing over Christmas we feel that closing is the right thing to do.
The plan is to reassess the situation towards the end of January and then make a decision for February and beyond.  While churches are closed there will be alternative worship opportunities made available online and through other media.  Please contact your minister for information.
We appreciate all the work done by churches which have reopened to make their premises covid-safe and this has been acknowledged by the Welsh Government.
As things stand currently there are no plans to stop services already set for December 20th and Christmas Day but, given the very real concerns about virus transmission at the moment, I ask each church to look again at its risk assessment and ensure any additional safety measures necessary.
Let us hold one another in prayer as we continue to reflect on God coming into our broken world to show the extent of his love for us all.
Blessings,
Cathy
Posted by LIsa Medina

Christmas Services 2020

Here is a  full list of Christmas Services happening around the Circuit. Sunday morning Services can be found on the main Circuit Plan. Contact the named Minister or office@cardiffmethodist.org.uk for details of online Worship. All are welcome!

Posted by LIsa Medina

Refugee Week 2020

At Trinity Centre they are currently preparing for the upcoming Refugee Week (15 – 21 June). As the celebration is going to be online this year, they would still like to engage with the local community to educate and celebrate how we not only welcome but value refugees in Cardiff.

They have created the Trinity Centre Tree Project – an easy way that people in the community can show their support for Refugee Week 2020. On the back of this sheet there is a template of a tree for people to decorate with leaves using paint, gluing pieces, colouring, printing…they’d love for people to get creative! You could also create your own tree. This is to represent that Each leaf is unique and has its own story, but all leaves come together to make fantastic trees.  

They would love to see your trees – once complete, please put them in your windows during Refugee Week (15 – 21 June) if possible, and either send a photo to them at enquiries@trinitycentre.wales or tag them on facebook @TrinityCentreCDF or Twitter @CdfTrinity to show the refugee and asylum seeking community that we are all here to support them.

Download Tree Template

Posted by LIsa Medina

Prayers for 31st May

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Nick Oborski

You can download a copy of these prayers here. 

Dear friends, today is the last day of our month of prayer. I hope you have found it an encouragement and help to have journey through this month. Of course, prayer does not stop today so I encourage you to continue to pray for our world and the Methodist Church every day. Please join the District prayer meeting tonight at 8pm on Zoom. If you want the password to join please contact your Minister.

Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you … Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.’
PSALM 102:1–2

As you know I have used material from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) and today is no different. Tomorrow the differences between England and Wales become more pronounced as children in England begin to resume schooling. My own granddaughter is in yr. 6 and will be back in school tomorrow. It seems right to finish our month praying for those in Education. Again, below are thoughts from those who are involved in education

Giving thanks …

  • ‘I see God in the social, emotional, physical, and practical work being done by schools to support pupils. Nearly half of our pupils received free school meals. Over the past nine weeks, staff have delivered food to their homes.’ Teachers are ‘selflessly still going to work to care for others, putting themselves at more risk and giving up their free time, in most cases unpaid.’

Ask for God’s help…
Pressures: What are the pressures affecting this context?

  • ‘The pressure is for those children and young people who are considered vulnerable – those with special educational needs, those eligible for free school meals, those who are on child protection registers. There are many children who experience difficult or less than loving homes and schools are their safe spaces.’

  • ‘New online ways of teaching are very demanding, and many teachers are feeling isolated and stressed, complaining of very bad headaches and sleeplessness.’

  • ‘Where we’re predicting student GCSE and A level grades, we feel pressured to make sure that we do it accurately, and it will be hard dealing with the fallout from students and parents if they don’t like what they get.’

Praying God’s heart for these people and situations…

Loving God we thank you for the gift of Education. We pray for all those working to educate our children, grandchildren, our nephews, nieces, and cousins who would normally be in school. Help them as they produce and mark work to be mindful of the different needs of each child. We pray for those who should be going back to school tomorrow, some excited, some fearful and for their parents agonising over whether it is right to send them. We ask that your peace may descend, and right decisions will be made. We know that school cannot be the same, but we ask that you will help teachers and children to adapt to the new ways of working that will begin tomorrow. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen

Praying for the Wales Synod and Our Circuit

I invite us to use this Pentecost to pray for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon us, our churches, and our nation.

A Prayer

Loving God we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, forgive us when we fail to acknowledge your presence or allow you space to move in our hearts and minds. Father, we have seen revival in Wales in the past and we pray for another revival in this place. We ask that you send down your Spirit upon us. Give us the courage to follow you and to proclaim your love and power to everyone we meet. Help us to be bold to pray asking and expecting you to act and we ask that you would indeed honour our prayers as we seek the rebuilding of your kingdom in Wales. Amen

Posted by LIsa Medina

Prayers for 30th May

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Kofi Amissah

You can download a copy of these prayers here. 

You can watch a video to accompany this here.

The name given to the month of May by the Gà people of Ghana, is ‘Agbienaa’. Farmers who sowed seeds in previous months are hopeful that the rains will fall in great measure to water and nourish the crops so that there will be a bumper harvest. For fishers, ‘Agbienaa’ begins the harvest season when great catches are expected. Thus, aside the rain, bumper harvest is the real thing in May for the Gà people of Ghana.

We all anticipate one harvest or another in various areas of our lives. The church also looks forward to the harvest of souls into God’s kingdom. God promises those who obey him that he will send rain on their land in its season, so that they may gather in their grain, new wine, and olive oil to eat and be satisfied (Deuteronomy 11:13-15).

So, pray that as you obey God’s commands, God will send seasoned rain of blessing upon you so that all that you have laboured for will flourish and prosper.

Pray that the harvest of souls will continue in the life of the church and that all our labours will bear fruit.

Pray for the Methodist Synods in Wales and the Methodist Church to be the beacon of God’s love to the nation and the barns upon which God’s end time harvest will be stored.

Pray for yourself and your community, bringing needs and desires before God who promises to answer us.

Pray for a bumper harvest for the world in the fight against COVID-19, that all efforts made in all fronts will yield positive results to bring the pandemic to an end.

THE PEACE OF GOD BE WITH YOU.

Posted by LIsa Medina