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Rector's monthly letter

Back to school, back to normal, back to church ...

The start of September heralds the start for a new school year. As children return to classes, the hope is very much that it will be possible for them to experience a more normal educational experience. Teachers hope to be able prepare students for exams that will be sat in person. Headteachers hope to lead school communities that will not be kept separated from themselves in bubbles. It is just another sign of life returning to “normal” and hopefully things will be able to stay that way.

However, our normal is different in many ways, and we all wonder what the future will look like. The Church is also contemplating the future since the pandemic forced huge changes in the way in which the Church fulfilled is mission of proclaiming the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nationally, and in certain areas, churches are using alternative, or virtual means of gathering, as happened during the pandemic. However, here in the Test Valley, with an abundance of church buildings that need to be used, unreliable communications technology and strong local community identities, we have been quick to restore worship and church life to our church buildings.

During the lockdowns we all got used to doing different things, we broke old habits and formed new ones. So, it has not been a surprise that some people’s habits of church support and attendance have been disrupted. In most of our villages we are the only representation of the Church to the community, and of course it is possible to keep a local church running with the support of the local community. Churches are facing the same financial challenges of other charities that have not been able to fundraise for a couple of years. Volunteers are also our lifeblood as are congregations who worship God and encourage one another.

Although many of our habits have changed over the last 18 months, regular churchgoing and supporting your local parish church needs to be retained habit if we are to ensure that the Church can continue to be a functional part of our communities.

Revd Philip Bowden, Rector