Information we have regarding the on-going crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus with most recent posts first.
Posted on 4 April
As another week passes with us still in lockdown, with the news on the TV telling of an increase in the spread of the virus and our isolation is to continue, we pray that you are keeping healthy and feeling strong.
The Church and Café Connect are now fully shut and those who worked in the building have been furloughed. A new word for us all, but, at Mannofield, it means that we have told our family of workers that we want them to remain part of our Team and to carry on doing the great work they had been doing and get back to doing it just as soon as we are allowed. We hope and pray it will be safe to do so sooner rather than later. However, in the meantime, as part of the Government Scheme, any financial worry will be eased for them.
The increased workload since “lock down” has continued and brings pressures because, not only is the new work out of the ordinary, but the ways of doing things can be totally different. It has been a sharp learning curve and there is no manual to refer to with a list of things to do and how to do them. The 2 main areas of focus have been helping those in need and looking for ways to stay in touch.
In relation to helping, the help lines are producing an increasing number of calls, (30 in the past 2 weeks – 12 from members of the congregation and 18 from the community). As a reminder the numbers are 07592 714891 and 07922 831715. Please get in touch if you need help. Not only for practical things like collecting prescriptions or provisions, but also if you are feeling affected by isolation and want to hear a familiar, reassuring voice. With the number of calls increasing, a request was put out to help and it is pleasing to report that we now have about 20 volunteers on stand-by to deal with calls. An amazing response and another example of how we all want to help as and where we can.
In relation to staying in touch with one another, we are continuing with our virtual Huddle on Tuesdays at 10am. This reviews what we are doing and looks at ways we can do more. All ideas, thoughts and news on what others are doing are shared. Please pass on to us any ideas which you think may work.
In addition, some form of worship has continued and reports back are that people are enjoying being able to have our own and local forms of Worship. Again, it is a steep learning curve into a new area, but all involved are learning. The Wednesday Service podcasts will continue and the links by Anchor, Apple, Google and Spotify are given below. Some without internet connection, have had the podcast played to them over the phone this week and have found this comforting.
This coming week is, of course, Holy week starting with Palm Sunday on 5th April. As well as the Palm Sunday Worship at 10.30 am on Sunday, the Aberdeen West Ministers are recording a daily message for Holy Week on the same You Tube Cults Church Channel. This will be put on the channel at 7pm each evening during Holy Week and the Thursday broadcast will include a virtual Communion. The You Tube link is repeated below.
Also, we are running a Bible Study following a course produced by Prof. N. T. Wright on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and a number of people, not only from throughout Aberdeen, but also from across Scotland are “meeting” by video conference to take part. Connections being made, even though we are unable to visit.
For now, have a great weekend and continue to keep safe.
Keith (Minister) and Bob (Session Clerk)
You Tube Worship: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6aIrjGmvx2kBKjp8QIHchg
Posted on 28 March
I pray that you are keeping healthy and feeling strong.
On the surface of it, when you think that with Public Worship no longer taking place, the Church and Café Connect in full shut down, it not being able to make any visits to hospital or to people’s homes – that my working week would be short of things to do. How wrong!
The fact is, as I was discussing with a colleague this week, I don’t think I have had a fortnight with as much intensive working for a long time. At the latest count in the last 10 days I think I have: convened 12 virtual meetings, dealt with over 350 emails/ messages, continued to contribute to online worship, continued podcasting, set up an online Bible Study and led its first meeting, helped take in food for our Foodbank on Sunday, conducted a Funeral, tried hard to keep communicating through social media, prepared a Grant Application for funding relief, and conducted around 30 phone calls.
In addition to this I am pleased to say that the response to the invitation we circulated, to be used by anybody in the community who needed support, has resulted in a 5 visits to Pharmacists and then delivering these Drugs to people who made the request, 2 phone calls of support; and Dorte our Families Worker has been involved on 2 occasions doing and delivering shopping.
I am not sharing this for any other reason than to let you know that even in these time of Lock Down we as a Church remain very active in worship, in pastoral care and in community care. In other words we are doing what we need to do as ‘Church’, to support people in need and give people encouragement through the provision of prayer, Bible Study and Worship. Church may be different, but God is still using us! Tomorrow the Trustees will engage in an online meeting to approve the Accounts. We adapt to the times and do what we can.
I remind you again of the joint online Worship that will be available on the Cults Parish Church YouTube Channel tomorrow at 10.30am, and our own Midweek Service that is on Podcast. Plans are in place to provide an online worship each evening during Holy Week (including Communion on Maundy Thursday), and offer an All-Age Family Service on Easter Sunday.
The Church across Scotland is conducting itself with great ingenuity and care and we can be very proud of our denomination. At the end of the week I received a letter from the Trustees of the General Assembly. Like many Businesses and Organisations this current situation places a huge strain on Finances – both at the local level and centrally. I have some ideas in place that I will share with you next week about how we protect ourselves financially locally, and continue to generate the funds that we share with Edinburgh to keep the overall work of the Church of Scotland going, and importantly enabling it to continue to meet the needs of the poorest people of Scotland. I will write more about this next week.
For now have a great weekend and keep safe.
Posted on 28 March
Keith and Dorte each have a mobile phone so that anyone in need of help during this crisis can contact them. They can offer help with picking up shopping, collecting prescriptions and drugs, posting mail or a reassuring friendly phone call. Their numbers are:
07592 714891 for Keith and 07922 831715 for Dorte.
Posted on 19 March
From: Presbytery of Aberdeen
Subject: Important, Please Read – CANCELLATION OF PUBLIC WORSHIP
At the time of writing, we are waiting for advice from the Church of Scotland Faith Nurture Forum about what is happening regarding public worship.
I am expecting this advice to be that public worship should cease until further notice during the Coronavirus outbreak. However, regardless of the advice, the Presbytery can make its own decisions regarding public worship.
Given the advice from the Scottish and UK Governments (which specifically mentions religious congregations), given the age profile of our membership and the duty of care we have to them all, I have sought powers from the Convener and Vice Convener of the Business and Finance Committee and the Presbytery Moderator to issue the following:
In light of the ongoing crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus, Presbytery:
Instructs all congregations to cease public worship with immediate effect until further notice and to ensure that the Government advice regarding avoiding non essential contact with others is adhered to;
Encourages congregations to continue pastoral care of their members using other means of communication such as phoning, Skyping, Facetime etc. and to seek ways of offering any practical support that that they can for vulnerable members of the community;
Encourages congregations to explore options regarding placing worship resources on their web site or Facebook page if they have one;
Encourages everyone to uphold in prayer all who are suffering as a consequence of the virus.
I would be grateful if you could pass this on to your congregation and feel free to include it on your web site and/or Facebook page.
The Business and Finance Committee will be discussing further practical aspects of the situation and I will be in touch later in the week.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions during what is going to be a very difficult time for us all.
Rev Dr John Ferguson, Presbytery Clerk.
Posted on 13 March
In his broadcast on 12th March, the Prime Minister was quite correct to reiterate that in a time of national challenge it is important that we look out for one another and have special concern for the most vulnerable in our society and world.
In Mannofield I know that a real spirit of fellowship and care exists and it goes without saying that we take seriously our responsibility to look after each other. That is one reason why I believe that keeping the worship and activities of our church running as best we can during this time of challenge is crucial. Church is important not just spiritually but also socially. For many without church there would be much greater sense of isolation and that is not good for anyone.
We have to be sensible and responsible of course. It is not ‘business as usual’ but it must be stressed that church is and will remain ‘open for business’. The business of Worship, Fellowship, Activity and Care.
Below I have summarised a few precautions that we are putting in place and offered some description of what to expect.
Hygiene & Coronavirus
To put people at ease and to reduce the possibility of infection we will be following the latest guidelines from the Scottish Government.
Food will not be left open for communal sharing. This means that at coffee time on Sundays and Wednesdays there will be no open plates of cakes or biscuits but instead biscuits that are individually wrapped will be used where available or no biscuits offered at all.
Milk and Sugar Sachets will be used instead of milk jugs/ bowls.
For the time being the Offering will not be taken using the communal bags but instead can be placed in the Collection Plate before and after Worship.
We will review the holding of the June Communion nearer the time.
Precautions will be taken about the logistics of Communion at the Maundy Thursday service.
Those who count the offering will follow good practice of washing their hands before and after.
Those on door duty will be delighted to make you welcome but there will be no handshakes, hugs or kisses.
It is advised not to use communal Hymns Books and Bibles. The words will appear on the screen as usual.
Whilst there is inevitable anxiety for us during this time there is no reason for us to be fearful of the impact of our Church activities but instead we will remain vigilant and always use best hygiene practices.
There is no reason unless you are unwell to stop coming to Church. If however you develop a new persistent cough or have a fever you should stay away from the church for 7 days.
The services will continue to be available as a Podcast accessed through Facebook, the website or through a search on usual platforms or by using the link https://anchor.fm/keith-blackwood
There may be some drop off in availability for pastoral visits in the event of any developing symptoms of coughs/ fevers etc. and in the coming weeks following Government advice visits to Nursing Homes will be limited to direct referrals.
CAFE CONNECT is taking its lead from the appropriate guidelines and putting in place best practice hygiene. The Staff would appreciate the congregation’s support in attending the Cafe for coffee/ snacks and lunches during this time. Inevitably there might be some drop off in business in some areas, so it would be really helpful to the continued operation of the Café if those who are able can make intentional effort to support the Café as much as possible.
Following these precautions is sensible. Meantime know that Mannofield is definitely ‘open for business’.
Rev Keith Blackwood