Why are we making such a fuss about a virus? Surely we don’t really need to close the church!
Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease that in severe cases causes acute breathing problems and even death. Although older people, especially those with existing medical conditions, are most at risk, Covid can hit younger people badly, too. Not everyone with the virus develops symptoms, but they can still infect other people without realising it. If we’re not careful, a church service could become a way of passing the virus on to lots of people. It’s up to us to do all we can to keep others safe, and so that’s why the church is closed at the moment.
Some people don’t believe Covid-19 is that serious, comparing it to seasonal flu, and there’s a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theories on the Internet. If someone asks you for a source of reliable information about the virus, you could recommend the public health information from Hamburg’s health ministry (in English). If they’re interested in learning about the science, you can refer them to insidecorona.net, a website operated by the University of Hamburg’s Coronavirus Structural Taskforce.
In view of the rising Covid-19 case numbers and the new restrictions in Hamburg and elsewhere, the churchwardens have taken the decision reluctantly to close the church with immediate effect until at least the end of January. Even though churches have not been instructed to close, it is up to us to do all we can to keep people safe, and so we believe that closing the church is the only reasonable and rational thing to do.
Even though we cannot now meet physically, there are other opportunities to gather virtually. A group meets for compline or evening prayer every Saturday at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If you would like to be sent the weekly link, please email Yotin and Arwen at music (at) anglican-church-hamburg.de and ask to be added to the list. There are also online resources – for instance, Canterbury Cathedral broadcasts the daily offices and Sunday services on its YouTube channel. Please see the Covid19-update page on this website for further information.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reflects on the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in this video on Canterbury Cathedral’s YouTube channel. On 29 December 1170, Justin Welby’s predecessor as Archbishop of Canterbury was killed during vespers in the cathedral by four knights, possibly sent by the king. His shrine became one of the greatest European sites of pilgrimage.
“Christmas will be simpler this year. And for many it will be sadder,” writes our Bishop, The Right Reverend Dr Robert Innes, in his Christmas Message 2020. He continues, a “well-known … carol speaks to us about ‘tidings of comfort and joy’. In 2020 we need to hear these tidings. For Christmas is at heart the story of a God who draws near to us in Jesus, sharing the sorrows and joys of human experience … He is ‘Immanuel’ – the God who is with us.” You can read his message in full here.
The Anglican Church of St Thomas à Becket in Hamburg is pleased to announce that its next Chaplain will be Revd Jules A. Barnes, currently priest in charge of St Margaret’s Warnham in the Diocese of Chichester in England. We expect Jules to join the chaplaincy in March 2021.
Before moving to Warnham, Jules was Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol and a minor Canon at Bristol Cathedral, with a range of diocesan involvements. She started her ordained ministry ten years ago, in Wilton, Salisbury.
Jules brings with her a breadth of pre-ordination work experience, too, having worked in contexts from the London Stock Exchange to easyJet and from NHS project management to media and family history research. Her initial university was Durham, where she read music as an undergraduate. This was followed by an MBA and then later, when her calling to ordained ministry was discerned, she studied theology at the Cuddesdon College, University of Oxford.
‘I can’t wait to move to Hamburg and to take up my new role as Chaplain to St Thomas à Becket Anglican church,’ she says. ‘I look forward to getting to know you all, and the city, and to our future mission and ministry together. I want the church to be a sign of hope, that deals in abundance of life, and welcomes all who come there.’
The St Thomas Handicrafters (and friends) have been hard at work over the summer and have a lovely selection of handicrafts this year for you. This year the offering includes the usual jewellery and scarves, but there are also wrist warmers, hot water bottle covers, and lots of other wonderful things.
You can virtually peruse the Handicrafts Stall and reserve items here: https://forms.gle/Aaxg9USMseTTxJFu7 New items will be added as additional contributions come in, so it’s worth checking back in occasionally.
Once you have had your selection confirmed, and have transferred payment to the church account, then you can either pick-up your selection at church on a Sunday or have it posted to you.
Under the present pandemic circumstances, it has unfortunately become clear that holding a mini-market in place of the traditional Christmas bazaar on 21 November is not feasible, as it would not only expose stall-holders and visitors to possible risk of infection, but also entails too many risk mitigation measures to be practical, since Christmas markets across the country have been banned. Therefore the Chaplaincy Council has taken their decision not to go ahead with this in line with many other organisations.
However, all is not lost. British products such as tea, English biscuits, Christmas crackers and puddings, home-made jams, marmalade and chutneys, the renowned recycled Christmas cards, mince pies and Christmas cookies, handicrafts and books, can be ordered by sending a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and the order picked up after the Sunday service from 12:00–13:00. The preference is for products to be ordered in advance to avoid long queues. However, these products will also be sold on small stalls every Sunday until Christmas from 12.00–13.00.
An order form with information about products available and how to order and pay for them can be found here. Please see separate information regarding online ordering of Christmas cards.Please see separate information regarding online ordering of Christmas cards.