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From the Rector

Last month in the build up to Christmas, we needed to make plans for the annual Carol Service at Temple church.

Temple is the far outpost of our Benefice, a good 8 miles from the Rectory at St Tudy, the journey even crossing the A30.

The church at Temple is what we call a chapel-of-ease, essentially an Anglican chapel situated for the convenience of parishioners living a long distance from the parish church (Blisland).

So, Temple generally has just 6 services each year and the Carol Service holds a very special place in the life of that moorland community and for the friends from further afield who value the unique atmosphere of the place.

The problem was that Temple is by some way the smallest of our 7 churches and the main nave is very narrow, making social distancing almost impossible when the attendance is more than about 8 people. So, the decision was made unanimously by the resourceful folk of Temple. The service would indeed go ahead, but out of doors, just as all the services there have been since the onset of the pandemic; but this time it would be in mid-December.

I offered to schedule the service for 3.00pm, but the parishioners were adamant that the candlelit element of the occasion was paramount, so 6.00pm it was.

The imagination and faith of the people were astonishing. A plan of duties was drawn up, detailed preparations were started and a sense of excitement grew. On the night itself, the path down to the churchyard was lit with dozens of candles and lanterns, gazebos were in place to shelter the worshippers from the elements, mulled wine and mince pies were warming in the porch, a battery-powered keyboard was in place for the hymns. There were even paddock poles topped with tinsel to mark out the distanced spaces.

Their confidence was fully rewarded as more than 30 people braved the conditions, the drizzle stayed away (mostly), 6 carols were sung heartily and safely, and the lavish refreshments were savoured by everyone.

It was such a special occasion and a brilliant example of our shared ingenuity and optimism triumphing over the restrictions that continue to blight our way of life.

These past two years have been very tough for us all. So much of what we want to do and hope to do has been problematic in the light of the risks involved. But time and again, human resourcefulness has enabled us to keep going and to enjoy at least some of the things we love, albeit in slightly adapted forms.

There have been countless other examples of the kind of resilience and imagination shown by the inhabitants of Temple.

In the churches of our Benefice, we will continue to do all we can to enable our people to worship, pray and enjoy fellowship as safely as possible. We won’t allow these unprecedented challenges to stifle the Church’s life and ministry.

Together with my colleagues Steve and Robin, I wish you all a safe and hopeful New Year and offer you all our ingenuity and commitment to carry out God’s work among you all.

 

David Seymour

 

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