On Wednesday we entered the third national lockdown for the pandemic we are in. This week the deaths reached a milestone, the highest we have yet seen in this country for any week, and more than 80,000 in total. A new variant of the coronavirus has been identified that is far more easily transmitted. Hospitals are reporting significantly higher admissions, higher than ever seen for winter flu.

A difference between the first two national lockdowns (starting March and November last year) is that Places of Worship may remain open. This week the Parochial Church Council of Whitburn Parish Church met and considered whether it is appropriate to remain open in the light of the first paragraph. They took the decision to request a temporary dispensation from the Bishop of Durham of the Canons (laws) of the Church governing Public worship. This has been granted, therefore with immediate effect there will be no services in the building other than funerals, with a review at the February PCC meeting.

Bishop Paul has written to Incumbents and Churchwardens saying “There has been clear sorrow at having to decide that closure for a period is best. But the reasoning has shown real concern for the wider public first, the health and safety of regular worshippers and a real concern for the well-being of clergy.”

Just because our buildings are closed, we do not cease in our worship and prayer, nor our common life.

Our recorded Audio services will continue to be available each Sunday, as they have for the last eight months. Additionally we will try and livestream a service at 10.00am on the All Saints Cleadon YouTube channel. As this is the first time we will have endeavoured to do this in this particular way it might all go wrong.

Donations for the Hospitality and Hope Foodbank can be left at 48 Front Street, Whitburn, following the directions at the gate on where to leave them. Please remember that these should not include fresh produce but packets and tins with a reasonable shelf life. It can take time for them to get to the foodbank and then to be given out to the recipients.

Parishes continue to have expenditure that needs to be met and so continued regular giving should continue. If it is your practice to give through the plate in Church then pop it in an envelope and put it through the letterbox. You may use the letterbox of your Churchwarden or mine at the Vicarage. If you are part of the envelope scheme then please use these.

If we do not have your email address and so you are not getting the Pastoral letters we have been sending out then please get in touch and let us have it.

Given the increased transmission capacity of the new variant it is really important that we keep at least 2 metres from those outside of our households; we wear face-coverings over our mouth and nose; and we wash our hands for at least 20 seconds or use sanitizer regularly and frequently. It has been commented to me that at a vaccination centre the queues of those waiting for their vaccination were enjoying the company of others but forgetting that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. I am informed that once vaccinated it takes two weeks to build any immunity, it is not instantaneous, nor 100%, even after the second vaccination.

Please also remember not to be socially isolated. Our mental health requires us to have contact with others so perhaps the use of the telephone needs to increase. Let us look after one another.

And finally, for some light relief:

  • My mates told me there was a job going. £100 per hour at the local clockwork toy factory 
    Turned out to be a big wind up.
  • A guy knocked on my door and asked where I get my energy from. I said mostly from food and sunlight.
  • There was an explosion at the pie factory. The blast could be heard 3.14 miles away.
  • I bought a book on medical procedures. When I opened it I found the appendix was missing!
  • I asked the librarian if the library had any books about paranoia.
    She whispered, “They’re right behind you…”