DEVIZES FOLK RIDE AND STRIDE TO RAISE MONEY FOR HISTORIC CHURCHES
Some of our Parishioners at St John’s Church in Devizes took to our country roads and lanes by bike and foot over the weekend to support the National Churches Trust’s annual ‘Ride+Stride for churches’ event to raise money for historic churches. Money raised by participants in Wiltshire will be used to support churches in Wiltshire.
Ride+Stride for churches is a sponsored bike ride or walk between churches, exploring and enjoying the countryside from Cornwall to Northumberland. It takes place every year on the second Saturday in September. The money raised helps to repair churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout England.
Among those taking part were Stephanie Williams and James Carey who rode 38 miles in visiting 15 churches around Wroughton, Ramsbury, Marlborough and nearby villages – their longest ride in some years.
Stephanie Williams said:
“Our historic churches are important symbols of permanence for the community in these uncertain times where they have taken on an added poignancy.
“The weather was perfect – not too warm but nice and sunny. The high point was our break at The Blue Boar at Aldbourne which did an excellent pub lunch!”
The Revd Chris Burdon has already raised more than £400 with donations still coming in. He also enjoyed the excellent conditions as he biked around 17 churches in Devizes and the Vale of Pewsey.
The Revd Chris Burdon said:
“Many of the Vale of Pewsey churches are ancient buildings serving parishes with tiny populations, so help with preservation is really important. I saw plenty of other bikes on the road too, and some welcome refreshment provided by volunteers at some of the churches.”
David and Carie Evans put on their walking boots to visit ten churches in Devizes and nearby villages.
David Evans said:
“In a year like this one it was even more necessary than usual to raise money for churches that might be in financial difficulties. Getting the event held at all this year was a real triumph for the organisers.
“We walked out to Poulshot, then over the fields to Worton, and up the hill to Potterne before heading home.”
St John's has Installed a Prayer Request Box for the Public
A “prayer request box” has been installed for people to can ask for prayers while the church remains open only for services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter box is in place at St John’s church in the town with pen and paper attached for members of the public to ask for things to be prayed for during the Wednesday morning service at the church.
The Ven Sue Groom, Archdeacon of Wilts, who is covering services during August, said:
“The pandemic has been a time when many people have felt a greater need to pray and be prayed for. At the same time, our need to keep the church Covid-19 safe means that currently the building is only open for two services a week, rather than being open for people to pray in every day as would normally be the case.
“People can ask for prayers for themselves, for others, or for things that are happening in the world and be assured that they will be brought before God at our midweek service of Morning Prayer which is restarting this Wednesday, 5 August, at 8.30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, but please wear a face covering, and like most other public spaces we will need to take contact details in case we need to assist public health officials with contact tracing. While the current situation prevails, this will be our second weekly service along with our main Sunday morning service at 10.30 a.m.”
Gerry Lynch, our curate at St John’s added:
“People have been praying in St John’s for nearly 900 years. These prayer request boxes have proved popular other churches and we thought it would be good to make such a facility available to people in Devizes. It is a privilege to be able to bring people’s needs before God in prayer during what is a trying time for all of us.”
CHOIR RETURNS TO SONG AFTER LOCKDOWN HIATUS
Our Church choir which has been out of action since the lockdown was introduced in March will return to sing at our service on Sunday after government and Church of England guidance on music in church changed.
The choir which in recent years has sung on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship, at St Paul’s Cathedral, and in major churches in Latvia, will begin with a ‘pilot’ group singing at the 10.30 a.m. service on Sunday 30 August. If that is successful, the choir will sing at worship every Sunday under a ‘new normal’ from the following Sunday, 6 September.
Chris Totney, Director of Devizes St John’s Choir, said: “Both our many youth members and our adults have felt the absence of singing together during the past five months, and it is wonderful to be able to give them a chance to demonstrate their skills and to lead people at St John’s in worship.
“Live singing has been shown to have all sorts of health and spiritual benefits both to performers and those who listen. It is a relief and an enormous privilege that we will again be singing to the glory of God.
“Precautions are being to be taken to ensure worship is COVID19-safe in line with government and national Church recommendations. The most visible changes will be that singers from different households will sit at least two metres apart, and that the choir will be split into two groups singing on alternate Sundays. Many less visible steps are also being taken as a result of extensive planning behind the scenes.
“Singing by members of the congregation remains banned under government and Church of England guidelines.”
Gerry Lynch, Curate of St John with St Mary, Devizes, said:
“One of the greatest of Christian saints, St Augustine, said that those who sing, pray twice. Music has been integral to Christian worship since the Church’s very beginnings. Indeed, we estimate this has been the longest period without singing in St John’s for 809 years! We have greatly missed having our wonderful choir singing to God’s praise since we returned to church in July, and we are delighted that they will be returning to help lead our worship from Sunday.”