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Greetings from the Manse!

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'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'. Jeremiah 29:11

Well friends, we may have been in Lockdown since March 23rd, but the weeks, to me at least, seem to have flown by. However, with it having been so long since we have been able to meet together and worship together in person, and with much uncertainty as to when we will be able to do so again and in what format, it seemed right to put together a Circuit newsletter.
As we enter the Summer, there will be several things happening differently, but happening all the same. Rev Les Nevin and his lovely wife Norma will be leaving our Circuit, and whilst we will not be able to 'give thanks' for their years of dedicated ministry in the ways that we might have hoped, we can still mark their parting appropriately. Therefore, the Circuit farewell Service, scheduled for Sunday July 26th, will now be an online service at 4pm on that day. An email link will be sent out for the service and for those not on the internet there will be a home worship sheet made available. I know many of you would have looked forward to being able to express in words to both Les and Norma how much you have valued their presence in the Circuit and I still encourage you to do that by sending them a card or short letter. Personally, the cards and letters that I have received when moving on from all my previous appointments have been the things I have treasured most, and I am sure Les and Norma will treasure yours. On the same note, it is currently unclear what restrictions will still be in place on August 20th when our new Minister, Rev Julia Reid, arrives and therefore, in order to give her a warm welcome perhaps a card or short note sent to the manse would also be appropriate. Julia's welcome service is still scheduled for Friday 4th September, 7pm at Richmond, but, as I write, it is unclear whether we will be allowed to gather in person. As soon as I know anything concrete, I will ensure that the information is sent out to you.
Due to Covid 19 the annual children's King's Club will not be taking place in its usual format this year but as you will read in Rachel Pinkney's report, the Circuit are enabling a postal version. In fact, there has been an increasing amount of children's work carried out through using the post and online, and Rachel needs to be congratulated for being imaginative and proactive. I am also delighted to inform you, if the news has not already reached your ears, that Rachel was successful in her candidature for the Presbyteral Ministry and will commence her training part-time in the Autumn.
I would like to take a moment to offer my deepest sympathy to those of you who have lost loved ones during the Lockdown. With churches closed and hospital visiting not permitted it has been a challenging and stressful time for those experiencing bereavement. Some of you may wish to have Services of Thanksgiving for your loved ones at some point in the future and I promise you that I will do my very best to enable those, but I would also like, restrictions permitting, to offer some 'Services of Remembrance for Loved Ones', perhaps in November this year. These special services give us all an opportunity to remember someone who has died, give our thanks to God for them, hear their name read out, and light a candle in their memory. I will be looking at the preaching plan to see how these might be incorporated, but they can of course happen mid-week.
One of the joys, as well as learning curves, has been the increased use of social media for staying in touch, worshipping together, holding meetings, and reaching out with our Christian message. I never thought I would be a regular You Tube contributor, but just goes to show you should never say never! I am hugely grateful to the Media Team and especially Kevin Pellatt as we have endeavoured to upscale our use of the Circuit website and Facebook page. It has given us much to think about regarding continued future use, and how we keep and improve our much-appreciated social media presence. The virtual Easter Parade and the Lockdown Stories have, without doubt, given many of us joy and purpose.
So, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand!

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