Rector Jane Skinner: Latest information as of 19th March.
An excellent statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York sets out both
our response to the COVID19 and a vision for a new way of being church. In a joint letter,
Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said it was now necessary to put public
services on hold until further notice.
But they said that far from having to “shut up shop”, the Church of England must face the
challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving
It comes after the Government announced unprecedented peacetime measures to try to
control the spread of the virus, with restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.
The Archbishops expressed the desire that church buildings may, where practical, remain
open as places of prayer for the community, observing social distancing recommendations.
They also invited clergy to maintain the ancient pattern of daily prayer and, where possible,
the eucharist – live streaming their worship if they have the resources to do so.
And they urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support
for the poorest and the most vulnerable during the crisis. “Being a part of the Church of
England is going to look very different in the days ahead,” they wrote. “Our life is going to be
less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the
prayer and service we offer each day.
“We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can
certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
“Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the
night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes
happening right across our country in communities
to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those.
“Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the
gospel – a hope that can counter fear and isolation - will spread across our land.”
They added: “This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for
all, or just the church for ourselves.
“We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming
months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to
The Archbishops have joined other church leaders in calling for a day of prayer and action
this Sunday (Mothering Sunday) particularly remembering those who are sick or anxious and
all involved in health and emergency services.
Further information on what the suspension of public worship will mean will be available as
soon as possible on the Church of England website:
Mothering Sunday is a National Day of Prayer
We unite in prayer at 7pm and light a candle. If you can do so safely, place a lighted candle
in your window as a witness to our united prayer and Christ, the light of the world.
God of love and hope, you made the world and care for all creation,
but the world feels strange right now.
The news is full of stories about Coronavirus.
Some people are worried that they might get ill.
Others are anxious for their family and friends.
Be with them and help them to find peace.
We pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists,
and all who are working to discover the right medicines to help those who are ill.
Thank you that even in these anxious times, you are with us.
Help us to put our trust in you and keep us safe. Amen.
Despite these worrying and uncertain times, we must never lose hope. Think of the Italians
in isolation, singing beautifully from their windows, the Dutch recently singing from their
windows – maybe not so beautifully (they stated themselves “perhaps we best leave it to
Italy!”) Some people are even putting their Christmas lights back up as a sign of hope and
happiness. The media focuses on the infection rates, the deaths – remember that there, too,
are recoveries and there are people working on and testing vaccines to bring an end to this
Please remember in your prayers those with whom you usually worship and those you see in
the community around you. If someone especially comes to mind, pick up the phone and
We’ll find lots of ways to keep connected and these will include our website
and a weekly Information Sheet. There might not be
events to list but there will be much to share. Some of our churches are in central positions
and may be a refuge of peace. Keeping our doors open daily is really important, even the
more remote buildings may be a sanctuary to someone. We are putting up posters to point
out that the doors are unlocked and people are welcome. Inside, observe the ‘social
distance’ from others but come and find peace.
Some students from Bideford College looked around St. Nectans at Stoke this week,
especially interested in the women portrayed and represented in the church. I asked their
impressions on entering and having been there a while. One girl said it smelt religious and
sniggered uncomfortably but another said she felt calm and peaceful. I hope more people
without previous experience will come and see our churches, get over their discomfort and
discover a valuable resource in our sacred spaces.
Please keep in touch with Madeline
Jane and myself
We will be praying for you, seeking to work with the local Parish Councils to join our efforts
together wherever possible and will send the Church Wardens updates from the Church of
England and Diocese as this information becomes available.
Some of you may have participated in the recent "Answers on a Post-card" exercise. Postcard images were used to prompt groups of us to make responses about the current state and expected future of the Church and similar topics. At the recent Deanery Synod we received feedback about our outputs, summarised aptly as Four "Mirrors" to show us what we said. These reflections are summarised in the document you can see here:
Special News - list of graves and memorials at St Nectan's Church, Stoke
Joy Cooper had the idea that a register of graves and memorials in the Church would be a valuable document and she was joined in this endeavour by Kay Greenish, one of the Churchwardens. They compiled a list of the names and dates in the churchyard and inside the Church itself, and they recently updated it. It comprises getting-on for 2000 items in an Excel spreadsheet available under the button below.
The columns in the sheet show:
A number which can be used to find the item
Month and date of death
Year of death
Age at death
Where they lived
Of course, not all of the information is available and some has been lost to time. The earliest grave with an identifiable date is that of Charles Carter who died in 1738 at the age of 64, but there are undoubtedly earlier examples if they could be read. The most recent are those for 2016, and Kay will continue the update process as time permits.
If you click on the button you will be shown the Spreadsheet immediately if you use the Chrome Browser with the Office Online extension. Otherwise the Spreadsheet will be downloaded to your machine, where it can be viewed using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
If you find the list particularly valuable or interesting please consider making a donation to the Friends of St Nectan's whose charitable funds help to maintain and improve the fabric of the church. BACS donations should be sent to:
Sort Code: 30-90-78
A/C Number: 01158740
A/C Name:The Friends of St Nectan's Stoke.
There are also some Recent Burials noticed in the following small spreadsheet - some of them do not yet have a headstone. The list may be seen here: