This morning in Itchen Abbas proved a wonderful breakthrough after many long months of out of the ordinary services necessitated by the Covid pandemic. Just over 50 adults and children gathered for an outdoor service in the field adjoining the church, following a carefully designed plan to ensure appropriate social distancing – wide aisles separated those gathered and families remained in their bubbles. As a direct answer to prayer, the potentially threatening wet weather did not materialise and so everyone was able to enjoy a rain-free service in the fresh air with, for the first time after a long hiatus, the ability to sing aloud rather than to hum along.
It was a brilliantly led and well-engineered service, with an effective mobile sound system operating from the back of Chris Ellis’ car and the band’s instruments and equipment protected from the elements by a gazebo built before the service and deconstructed afterwards principally by Nick, Jasper and Wilber Fuggle. A discreet camera allowed for the service to be broadcast via Zoom for those unable to come in person.
James Greig led the service with his customary charm and warmth, conducting a great interview with Cameron Young, who arrived with his family to join our community in April. James Wright drew on Acts 11 and 12 to speak convincingly of the capacity of ordinary people to do extraordinary things in God’s Kingdom when empowered by the Holy Spirit and his wife Julia completed the service with apt prayers of thanksgiving and hope.
Perhaps most notably, Tim Clapp and his band (composed of Laura Young, Chris Ellis and Dave Parker) led the congregation in robust renditions of Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art and In Christ Alone.
All in all, it was a very special and much anticipated service and it established a good, innovative template for outdoor versions of any of our services. It was wonderful to see some new faces today and we will look forward to welcoming other newcomers to our next set of services, whether held in- or outdoors.
Much gratitude is due to all who worked so hard to bring together such a successful outcome (with a special thank you to Beccy Clark, who as ever was working away behind the scenes in the days leading up to today doing all the essential tasks that need attention to make our services happen so smoothly).
A recording of the service is accessible here –