Hello from the Vicarage

It is now mid-May and some of the days have been so wonderful with warmth and blue skies that one can physically feel just how good it is to be part of God’s ‘very good’ creation.

It has been a difficult, sometimes distressing and generally a testing time for most of us since we entered the period of ‘Lockdown’ in March. Some of you have suffered greatly from anxiety, loneliness, and depression – you have all been in my prayers and those of so many of the people of our church family. Some of you have been touched by tragedy, or certainly near tragedy, as we learn of our loved ones being infected and hospitalized due to this awful viral infection. Those whom I have been supporting within their personal grief, have had to cope with very constrained funerals due to the requirements of social distancing – this makes you realise what a service the church so often provides for those who are struggling with this difficult point of transition in life.

As Christians we are walking through this situation with the knowledge and love of our Lord, Jesus. If this is so we should try to see through the darkness, to see how and where His light is shining. Many of us have commented on the peace which has descended upon them, not as a negative, but as a peace of ‘re-creation’, a feeling, or an awareness of being drawn back to a more wholesome way of living – the peace which only Jesus can give. Others have seen acts of loving kindness between complete strangers, or from neighbours who previously had little or nothing to do with each other; the encouragement of a greeting and a smile across the street – Jesus told us to love our neighbours as ourselves. It has been good to see how people in the church family have taken it upon themselves to contact and support others – for this I am very grateful.

Many of you continue, as you are safely and financially able, to support the ongoing work of our Food Bank. At a ‘low point’ we were very grateful for the wonderful support of the local Garstang Volunteer Force, working out of the Bellflower Pub, who gave us the resources which we needed to keep supporting needy families until our own resources became adequate.

Time for prayer has been a gift called by God out of our isolation. For many this has in fact been a ‘spiritual wonder’, a lighting or re-igniting of their walk and talk with God. We have been working through the ‘Prayer Course’ with some of our groups online. I am putting the videos for the course on this website as we work our way through – so they are available for everyone who wants a ‘prayer refresher’, or who simply wants to explore how you can build up your own life of prayer. I hope that we continue to build upon this gift and so strengthen both our own relationship with God, but also continue to strengthen the spiritual life of our church – even when we are apart!

Prayer is of course the central theme of the global movement of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. This was started by the Archbishop’s of Canterbury and York five years ago, and it has now become a global, ecumenical event. Please see the article on 'Thy Kingdom Come' and how you can join in later in this magazine section.

The Diocese has now allowed us to resume maintenance of churchyards, so we have begun the process of bringing it back to its high standard of appearance.

Things come and go – but it will be good to look back at all that we are going through and to be able to point out the good things which have come from it because of our faithful journey with God.

Please continue to ‘tread carefully’, safeguard yourselves and others, doing all things for Him and in Him.
God bless,
Revd John

 

Volunteer Shopper Scheme

Our shopping buddy Jonathan phones us on Wednesday to check we are ok and see if we want any shopping doing. We only use him once a week as we don’t want to bother him. I write a list, mainly from Aldi, I try to put the list in the order of the shop to make it easier. I hang the list and our shopping bags on the porch door and Jonathan comes round about mid-day and gets the bags and the list. He brings our shopping back and pops it in the porch. We get the receipts out and by the time he gets home Evan has transferred the money into his bank. He is wonderful in what he does and always gets the best he can. He has collected a prescription for us when we’ve need one as well. It doesn’t seem right when we are both fit and well but, he assures us that it’s fine and he doesn’t mind. He is a blessing each week.

Janet Gray

This scheme is available to anyone who isn’t going shopping themselves at the moment. You can use cash, bank transfer or the Booths telephone payment scheme. Guidelines are drawn up and signed. All volunteers are DBS checked and are members of our STG Church family. Please phone Kathryn on 01995 606288 if you would like to be paired with someone.

 

8 Ways and still counting!

 

During the current situation you won’t be surprised to hear that STG Mothers Union and other members of the STG Family have been working together to support people in need in Garstang. The Food Bank has been operating daily delivering food, toiletries and God’s love to vulnerable people in our local area. This is what one of our recipients wrote:

'I have been receiving a weekly donation of food from St. Thomas's church throughout the lockdown. Being a single mum on universal credit who’s not been able to work her usual hours, I can honestly say it has been a blessing from above. It's hard work trying to budget monthly money at the best of times but with this extra hardship I would have really struggled without the church's help. I am gluten and dairy intolerant so I need to buy 'free from' products that cost more money than regular foods, the food bank have supplied me with these as well as toiletries, and even little treats for my little girl to help cheer her up whilst she is unable to play with her friends. The generosity of the church volunteers and the people who have donated has astounded me and also inspired me to want to help others when I can because I now know what it means to you when you need help and others reach out to you with their kindness. I know that the church supports many families in Garstang, and I am sure I am speaking for us all when I say how extremely grateful we are. Myself and my children cannot wait to be able to enjoy the beautiful church services again. Many thanks Team STG'.

Many of us have prayed into this initiative because we know that with God, we can do everything! Here are the eight ways that God has responded to those prayers so far:

1. Our wonderful school generously donated food on their last day at school before lockdown. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of families at a time when others were stock piling.
2. We had a delivery of unwanted tins and fresh produce when a member of our congregation thought of us and mentioned our food bank at just the right moment.
3. A Mother’s Union Member had the super idea to put a collection box outside the Parish hall (it’s still there!)
4. Many of you have been moved to give financially, simply dropping envelopes of cash off at 10 Maple Rd (labelled Food bank) or giving me money when you see me walking the dog.
5. We were supported when stocks were low by The Garstang Vulnerable People Fund working out of The Bellflower Pub- they just phoned us up to offer their help.
6. An application was made to The Covid19 Community Support Fund and we received £500.
7. A lady telephoned me to say her son was closing his shop and would we like his remaining stock.
8. Booths supermarket telephoned and now we can go and choose whatever we need from their donations stock.

What way will God find next? I don’t know, but I do know He will find a way. He will move a heart, give someone courage to speak up, make a connection, shine a light into the situation. Why? Because he cares about these families, people brought low by circumstances at the moment. They’re His children and He loves them.

How can you be part of this? Pray, that’s it! Maybe you will be part of the 9th way we are provided for!

Cucumbers!

Recently we had a particularly eventful and funny day which we thought it would be nice to share with you.

A delivery came our way. Lots of bags of fresh items, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, apples, oranges and…in each bag three cucumbers! I don’t know about you, but I do like a cucumber, but three! I messaged about and asked everyone I was delivering to that day even if they were only getting a prescription or something else small “Do you like cucumbers?” It turns out that Garstang is in love with the humble cucumber! There are healthy children eating a third of a cucumber as if it were a bar of chocolate or a lolly pop. Older ladies who do the same and as for cucumber sandwiches! We Garstonians love them!

How can I support our Food Bank?

There is a box placed under the porch of STG parish hall, it’s labelled Food Bank. When you are out shopping pop a few extra items in the trolley and on your way home take them to the box. Please don’t make an extra trip to put them in, this would be against current guidelines. If you are in need contact us on 01995 602162 or 606288.

Best to buy!

  • Shower gel
  • Toilet rolls
  • Hand wash
  • Wraps
  • Crisps
  • Shampoo
  • Noodles
  • Bags of fresh fruit

 

KEY WORKERS IN OUR STG CHURCH FAMILY

Rachel Allot - Pharmacy Technician 

My main role is to process prescriptions. My role has changed due to Covid 19, I now must wear a face mask all the time in the pharmacy and gloves when serving customers. My hours of work have changed both because the pharmacy opening hours have changed and because the way the pharmacy is staffed has changed. The whole pharmacy team has been divided into two groups and each group works alternate days. Weekends and bank holidays have had to be cancelled.

The best part is being able to do something meaningful and worthwhile in the crisis, but I personally find it very difficult to ‘recharge my batteries’ on my days off and I do really miss seeing my colleagues in the other team. Oh, and I find trying not to overheat while wearing a face mask very hard too! My faith gives me courage and hope that there will eventually be light at the end of this dark tunnel.

 

Karen Deakin - Cashier/Shop assistant at a Spa garage

Since Covid19 it is slightly busier in the shop and there are a few more tasks to fit in during a shift, eg cleaning of baskets and surfaces. The best bit about my job at the moment is supportive management. Also that my part time hours have been allowed as requested. My faith gives me perspective and hope in this difficult time.

 

Trevor Sperring - Engineer at Heysham Nuclear Power Station and Prospect Union Rep

I am now working from home. I have an engineer on site three days a week and she is my eyes and ears on the plant. The arrangements at the station are very strict and start with a temperature check for every person who enters the site. There is a lot of home working and changes of shift pattern to minimise contact and ensure we have a back up team available at all times. I do keep in contact with the people on site every day. The positive bit about all this is that all meetings are now on Skype (Zoom for businesses) so no-one knows who is on site and who is at home. It also gives me more time with the family, and it is nice to work with a cat on my lap. It is hard working from home all the time and it feels very remote from my friends and colleagues. I miss the non-work chat – all conversations are very business-like. There is a lot to sort out at work and there is a lot of nervousness around. I pray that the people I work with will find comfort and that when I speak to my trade union members, I find the right words to reassure them.

 

 

 

 

MISSION OVERSEAS

Thankfully, none of our sponsored children have the virus. The country is in total lockdown and many are unable to find food. We have been able to distribute food to many villages, so that people can have at least one meal a day. As well as Covid 19 they also have the locusts to contend with, but thank God that He is protecting them.

Below is a video of one of our children, Solomon Asiata, who has been diagnosed with cardiac problems, playing and singing to thank God for all that he has received.

Elizabeth Swarbrick