Vicar’s Letter

 St James’ & St John’s together with St Thomas

Coronavirus COVID-19 –Updated 1st June 2020

Hope you have all been able to enjoy the weather we have been blessed with over this time. As I write the forecast is for it to get cooler from Wednesday onwards. We are going through a period of regular change again since the Government began its plan to loosen the lockdown. At times it can seem confusing what is actually allowed under the rules and these are changing seemingly weekly. Today primary schools – at least some of them – will be opening up for Reception, Y1 and Y6 children as can groups which are registered on the Early Years Childcare Providers register – and this means some groups which meet in church halls and church buildings. For us Dame Tipping will be opening this week for Reception and Y1 but are delaying Y6 return until 15 June. The St Thomas Pre-school group are planning to open on 8 June with a limited number of children. Please keep all schools and pre-school groups in your prayers at this time as they face the challenging of meeting the safe social distancing criteria and health & hygiene rules at this time.

As the lockdown rules loosen each individual will have to decide what level of risk they are willing to take, which of the now relaxed social contacts they are prepared to contemplate. Whatever these may be the overall rule is still that people who live in different households should remain at least 2m (6ft) in physical distance apart. Where this is not practically possible, for instance for those at work, them some level of PPE should be available. I say this as my own personal experience is that people are starting to ignore this basic principle. 

In terms of church buildings opening for worship with gathered congregations, this does not seem likely until 4 July at the earliest. And when we do, there will be restrictions on the numbers allowed in the building. We are beginning to plan for this time and will keep you informed at the points we are able to.

In the meantime… we are continuing to develop our technology skills to widen our on-line provision. This Sunday at 10am we aim to stream on Facebook worship recorded by our young people that we will edit together. See the weekly plan below for more details. We are also developing our experience of using the Zoom platform having used it for Morning Prayer last Thursday and the Coffee Morning the week before that. This week we will move Morning Prayer on Thursday to 10am and continue on after that for coffee and a chat. On Friday at 4pm Verity will host a Lady’s get together via Zoom (don’t worry blokes, we are working on a meeting for us too). At 6pm Bedtime Prayer will be Zoomed.

Our Next Bishop. I sent out with an earlier update a briefing paper on how our next Bishop of Chelmsford will be chosen. I re-attach that now. All individuals and groups are able to contribute to the consultation through an on-line questionnaire which can be opened through this link. I also attach a hard copy – if you are unable to use the on-line link you can complete this in pen and we will return them to the Diocese for you. WE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO COMPLETE A FORM AS A REPRESENTATION OF THE PARISHES VIEW ( St James’ and St John’s). To do this we will hold an open Zoom discussion on Thursday, 11 June at 10.45am. The ID Code for this is 823-3488-7253. We are waiting for a resource being produced by the Families & Youth section of the Diocese which will help in peoples thinking about this. This involves our Area Bishops will be interviewed by a young person on aspects of a Bishop’s role.

Diocesan Day of Prayer for Discernment on Sunday 7 June. As we seek God’s will in this process of appointing a new Bishop, the Diocese has identified this coming Sunday as a Day of Prayer for this.  Prayer resources for this have been written by Nicholas Henshall, Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral and can be found at this link. A hard copy is also attached with this update.Below is the Prayer for Discernment:

 God of provision and care,

 discernment and knowledge:

 lead us in your love,

 empower us by your Spirit,

 and equip us with your gifts;

 give us hearts full of love for all people,

 minds open to the signs of the times,

 and wisdom to know how to respond

 to the voice of your calling.

 We ask this through him who’s coming is certain,

 whose day draws near, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Amen.   

Bible Reading and Prayers of Intercession. Have you in the past or would you like to help in our worship by reading the scripture or leading the intercessions? The Diocesehave produced two useful on-line training resources the you might like watch in the time you may have available at the moment. These are narrated Power-Point presentations and can be found at the links below. 

 Reading the Bible    Leading Intercessions

Church buildings themselves remain restricted to clergy and licenced lay leaders with members of their household) entering for the purposes of private prayer or live streaming or filming worship services only.

Thanks to all who supported the coffee morning in aid of St Francis Hospice on Thursday. We have so far raised £570 + £101.25 in gift aid.


This means of course that our church buildings will remain closed and that we shall continue to maintain our church family life through our Church On-Line activities. With this in mind we will be increasing our presence on the St James St Johns Facebook page and a weekly stating from this coming Monday can be found below.

Please all our buildings are to remain closed and should only be entered once a week for a brief inspection by a specified person. This is to reduce the risk of cross infection. For each of the buildings those people are:

St James’ Church & Centre –Barbara Bowman

St John’s Church –David Anderton

St John’s Hall & Centre –Verity Collins

St Thomas’ Church & Hall –Gail Harris

If you are a key holder for any of the buildings please do not enter them until further notice. If you feel there is an overriding need to gain access then please consult the specified person above for the particular building first.

The vehicle access gates to all three churchyards have been secured and locked in accordance with guidelines from the national church.

Pedestrian access to St John’s and St Thomas’ churchyards are still open and people are welcome to walk through them as part of their daily exercise, however people are discouraged from lingering or gathering there.  This includes for the purposes of tending graves.

If your daily exercise takes you passed one of the churches we would be grateful if you would do a visual check and if anything strikes you as unusual or suspicious would you please contact the specified person above for that building.

Funerals will still take place in St John’s Churchyard and we currently have two booked neither of which are related to COVID-19 infection. There are severe restrictions to those who can attend and to the length of the services so please keep in your prayers all those who are bereaved and mourning at this difficult time.

Ways if Helping

If you have time on your hands(!) and feel like you could and would like to contribute them there are various options open to you.

Havering Food Banks–the demand for their services has increased if anything and because many of their usual volunteers are in the high risk categories they are in need of extra helpers. If you feel you could help then please contact Mark & Caroline Gilmour losgilmore@gmail.comwho are co-ordinating the response.

Havering Volunteer Centre –if youwould like to help in other ways locally contact this group

Staying Connected to St James’ & St John’s and St Thomas’


St JJ’s page isSt James St Johns

Here we will live stream and post various videos –for weekly schedule see below.


St JJ’

Here you will find updates posted and links to videos on our YouTube account.

St Thomas’

WhatsApp –the following groups are connected to St JJ’s

St JJs Church Family –administrator David Anderton(07751269412)

ØSt JJ boys, beer &banter –administrator Alan Moss((07928770220)

St JJs Ladies–administrator Sue Pye(07729632951)

If you would liketo be on any of these groups please contact the relevant administrator

Distribution of printed materials etc to individual homes.

We would have liked to distribute various things to people’s homes such as the Palm Crosses and various printed resources, howeverthe Church of England’s Medical Advisor’s assessmentis such action represents a significant risk of cross infection for the delivererof,and those receiving such materials and guidance has therefore been not to do so. It would also be considereda non-essential journey under the government’s restrictions.

We are therefore having to rely on electronic communications only and appreciate this means some cannot access that which we are providing. We are regularly talking with those whose only route of communication is a phone call. If you know of anyone in this category we have missed please let me know.

ExtraFacebook Streaming

As you will see in theschedule below we are increase the frequency of our love Facebook streaming from this Monday. On Monday & Wednesday mornings we will stream Morning Prayer following the Church of England Daily Prayer App. If you can download the App that is great but you can follow without it too.

We will also increase the 5.15pm Update and Reflection times from once to twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday Worship will remain at 10am followed by the posting of a pre-recorded sermon.

Please stay safe know and keep all our key workers in your prayers.



Downloadable version – click here