I received the following letter from our Diocesan Bishop recently after a really excellent presentation by Malcolm Brown at Wolvsey a couple of weeks ago. I thought that you (as our worshipping community) might like to read it in full. I have endeavoured to write a letter from the Rectory for the December edition of Itchen Valley News which reflects the general approach of these thoughts. That article will also appear here in due course. It is important how we relate to each other and the language that we use about each other, as we well know from living in village communities. Please could I ask those of you who are preparing prayers for our services to review the link below and see what prayers might be appropriate on this very sensitive subject.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The General Election campaign season commenced this week with Parliament now dissolved. Public prayer is important now more than ever. As Bishops, we continue to pray for peace and reconciliation over the division and unrest in our society. We encourage you all to continue praying for wisdom for our national and local leaders. We are particularly concerned that all parties will promote policies and programmes based on practical compassion, especially for those who are marginalised or struggling with daily life.
There are many differing views on Brexit and the country’s political governance. Nonetheless, all can agree that the abuse and hatred that has been experienced by many MPs is never acceptable. Please hold in your prayers, our local MPs and their families as well as those across the country.
Last week we welcomed the Reverend Canon Dr Malcolm Brown, Head of Mission and Public Affairs at the Church of England, to speak to a group of clergy and laity on Brexit and the upcoming General Election. Malcolm addressed the current political situation in the UK, as it changes on an almost daily basis, and the role of clergy and laity in our parishes in helping maintain a degree of commonality in local communities.
The paper, Brexit-shaped Britain and the Church of England, written by Malcolm, offers a thought provoking position on the role of the Church of England in Brexit and the upcoming General Election. We encourage you to make use of the paper when considering your part in the coming weeks ahead of the General Election as this will undoubtedly be an important to issue to your parishioners. It is available on the Diocese of Winchester website for you to share with your congregations: https://cofewinchester.contentfiles.net/media/documents/document/2019/11/Brexit_and_the_Church_of_England_-_Malcolm_Brown.pdf
The words we choose to use are powerful. The presence of the local Church in the Winchester Diocese grants us the opportunity to encourage and support our communities and the common good but it is also an important opportunity to bear witness, displaying a kindness and patience towards one another as Jesus teaches us.
We have included some prayer resources below that you might like to use. We suggest that you make these available in the pews and possibly hold open days offering a time when people can come to your Church building to pray and reflect, on their own or with others.
Yours in Christ,
+Tim, +David and +Debbie
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin
The Bishop of Winchester