Newssheet August 30th 2020

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Dear Friends,

It is good to be back home after a really enjoyable two weeks away on holiday in Devon.

Our first week was spent in Seaton, a place where we lived for five years (2000-2005). We enjoyed wonderful weather as we visited the local beaches and walked across the cliff top to places like Branscombe — an idyllic spot also famous for the container ship MSC Napoli which spilled its cargo of containers into the bay in 2007.

We had a ride on the Seaton Tram for old times' sake and then spent a very enjoyable morning walking around the Seaton Wetlands complete with beautiful marshland, reed beds, farm animals and lots of wildlife along the Axe Estuary.

Our second week took us to Dartmoor where we stayed in a farm cottage right on the edge of the moor which was covered with the bright yellow gorse and pink heather.

Sheep, cattle and ponies roamed freely and the views from the Tors were stunning as was the River Dart dramatically changing overnight into a raging torrent of water after a deluge of rain! With sunshine and heavy showers, we experienced all aspects of the British weather — as befits any visit to the moors!

All of this dramatic beauty spoke profoundly of the wonders of nature and the God of all creation.

The Psalmist writes: (selected verses from Psalm 148)
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.
Praise the LORD!

I am very grateful to Liz and all those who were on hand to cover my duties whilst we were away on holiday — Thank you!

A Return to Collective Worship

During July and August, a team of people in our churches have been working hard to put in place both the mandatory risk assessments, cleaning and notification needed in order for us to begin to make tentative steps back into our buildings both for worship and limited user groups. It has been a huge task of great responsibility — thank you! The risk assessment for Alton will be attached to our weekly email for your peace of mind.

Alton- following a Church Council by Zoom we have agreed the following:

From Mid-September we will aim to hold a midweek Pause for Thought Service lasting 20 mins or so (From Wednesday 16th at 11am). This will enable us to gather, to pray, to reflect on a bible passage and get a feel for what it is like to worship together again as a small group. More details to follow and what to expect re registering.

From October we will aim to hold a Sunday Morning Service (30-40mins) at 10am for those wishing to attend. It will be different, maybe more reflective and an opportunity for us to learn from the experience and adapt where necessary!
We are allowed to play instruments and one person could sing! However, everyone will need to wear a mask (unless for medical reasons) and book in re 'track and trace' requirements which will guarantee a seat at a socially distanced space.

Rowledge — Following conversations with the stewards, property team and members of the congregation for those able and wishing to attend we will hold a Sunday morning service at 10am from September 20th, keeping this under review.

Hale - We will consult with members and friends of the church shortly about their own wishes and the practicalities of meeting together noting that the risk assessments needed are a work in progress. We are delighted to say that the Nursery are thrilled with the renovated building and will meet five days a week, morning and afternoon from September. The building works are virtually complete (apart from one or two expected snags to finish off).

The Spire (Farnham) - The CafĂ© has opened five days a week and really is a lovely place to enjoy a light lunch — all beautifully spaced out in the large sanctuary area.
During September a live Sunday Morning service will be led by Rev Michael Hopkins via Zoom with contributions from the congregation.
Returning to worship as a congregation remains under ongoing review due to present restrictions.

The On-Line Service

Please be assured we will continue to provide the on-line service for the present time.

You can find it this week, as usual by going to www.altonmethodist.org.uk It is a circuit service.

Sunday September 6th will also be a circuit wide service as we welcome Rev Nick Oborski into his role as circuit minister with particular responsibility for Fleet and Hartley Wintney. The deputy chair of district Rev Sam Funnell will be the speaker.
The on-line services will then continue to be more locally based.

Every blessing
Philip

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