From the Minister’s desk:
On Easter Sunday, we said together “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!” In my sermon, I said that with God all things are possible. Out of death on a cross came life. Out of loss came hope. Out of suffering came joy. As we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Christ, I raised some questions. Will this Resurrection Sunday be the time of freedom? Will it be the time of a new beginning? Will it be the time of new life, as it is in the use of Easter eggs? I deliberately did not give answers, leaving it for each of us to reflect individually. As you read this Newsletter, I ask you please, to think about your answers. Perhaps we can relate to the night Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin? The night when Peter collapsed in the depths of despair because he had broken his promise and failed to keep his word, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matt. 26:35, NIV). Peter died that night, inside, in his soul, in his sense of self. Is this how we feel? But we know that is why the news of Easter is the truth that goodness can and does overcome all that is evil, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter Blessings to you.
As we – you as a church at East Croydon, and my family and I – prepare to say goodbye as I come to retire, I urge you “Please keep telling this Good News”. It was personally transformative for Mary, the disciples and followers at the time. It is transformative for us as we recognise that Jesus lives with us still in these unprecedented times and that we can experience him in our lives. When Mary Magdalene turns away from the untenanted tomb, she sees, “Jesus standing”. Just standing there, waiting to be noticed. How long has Jesus been standing in our lives, in our church at East Croydon, in our world, just waiting to be noticed? Keep on with the new mission Jesus gave to the Mary Magdalene and the other women, who went to the Tomb on that Resurrection Sunday morning – Go and tell the disciples and Peter – that is He is risen! Go, tell everyone!
Saying goodbye to Derrick
At the January church meeting Derrick told us that in April, he would reach the age when URC ministers are expected to retire. His last service as our Minister is Sunday 25th April. The March Church Meeting decided that we should hold this service in the church, not on Zoom. It can’t be the sort of occasion we would have planned at one time, but it is an opportunity to say thank you to him (and his family) for his 9 years of ministry, and to wish him well for what, knowing him, will undoubtedly be a very active retirement.
In the previous newsletter as well as offering our condolences on the deaths of Wilfred Tieku and Michael Jones-Mensah, we asked you to pray for Dingile Phiri’s husband Elias, who was in the hospital. Sadly, he did not recover from the virus. His funeral service included a tribute from the Zambian High Commissioner in the UK, commending Elias for his work as Chairman of Zambia Together in the UK. We send our love and condolences to Dingile and family. You have been in our prayers, as have the other families whom we have remembered.
Using our buildings
As you know, we decided not to re-open the building for worship even when we were allowed to. As the URC moderators said, ‘Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should!’ The safety of the congregation comes first. The decision about when to return to using the church will be taken by the Elders and Officers. The URC guidance is currently that Pentecost on 23rd May might be a suitable date to aim for. The exception to this will be Derrick’s final Sunday before he retires.
Continuing to provide a service to the community
In all the disruption caused by the Pandemic, we haven’t forgotten our responsibilities to the community. We are still there and still serving the community. The flower cross which we normally create together was there in time for Easter Sunday to remind passers-by of who we are and what we are celebrating. Ordinary lettings are suspended but the law allows certain types of groups to meet. This is the current position as agreed by the Elders and where appropriate, the Church Meeting. The Pre-school, the Link and the AA groups are allowed to meet as long as the Lettings Secretary is satisfied that they have updated their risk assessment. The pre-school is in session 5 mornings a week during school term time. The children have their temperatures taken and wash their hands when they arrive. Everything used is thoroughly sanitised. The children, and their parents, have adapted really well to the new routines. The Link is meeting on a Thursday evening. The volunteers serve hot drinks and sandwiches to people in need and give out clothes, toiletries and tins of food that have been donated to them. The AA groups on Monday and Saturday evenings and Al Anon on Wednesday lunchtime will start as soon as arrangements are agreed.
Staying safe and keeping well – a reminder from our A&E consultant
As we’re sure you all know, Dr Jacob Addo is an A&E Consultant who has direct experience of the impact of Covid-19. Jacob has stressed that we should be under no illusions. This virus is very real and awful to contract. The pandemic is not a myth. He strongly recommends that everyone has the vaccine when invited. Derrick has been reiterating this in our Sunday Zoom worship services.
Keep well and stay safe