Announcement About Christmas Services

UPDATE: As part of the countrywide efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, all church worship services have had to move to an online-only format. There will be no services in the meeting houses until further notice.

Dear church family,

This year the Christmas Day service was scheduled to be a united service in Ervey. This was all planned before the pandemic. Under our current restrictions we’re unable to have united services since it is necessary to keep numbers down to a safe level and maintain social distancing. Because of this we were left with the decision of what to do on Christmas Day.

The elders of each congregation have been consulted and have decided not to hold a service on Christmas Day this year. We will instead be sticking with the usual Sunday service schedule (1st and 3rd Sundays of the month in Corglass at 10:30 and Ervey at 12:00, 2nd and 4th Sundays in Trinity at 10:30 and Corraneary at 12:00).

For Trinity and Corraneary that means that this Sunday (the 13th) will be the last service before Christmas Day with the congregation meeting again on Sunday the 27th. So, I’m going to try to make this Sunday a bit of a Christmas celebration for the members of those congregations. Corglass and Ervey will next meet on the 20th and I will try for the same thing in those services.

On Christmas Day itself I will be uploading a special Christmas message on the church website.

I hope this has cleared up the confusion over the Christmas service schedule. It is sad that we will not all be celebrating together on Christmas Day, but we are taking these steps to protect one another and do what we can to ensure a happy Christmas and a good start to 2021.

Whatever your plans for Christmas I wish you a happy and peaceful one and may we all take this time to remember the true reason we have for celebrating this year and every year: God is with us and he has come to save us. May this weary world rejoice in the hope of Christmas!

God bless,
Rev. John.

Important Announcement Regarding the Resumption of Congregational Worship – December 2020

Dear church family,

With the lifting of government restrictions, church services may now resume in a limited format.

Due to social distancing restrictions space in each church building is extremely limited and we ask that you only attend the church where you are a member.

Services are scheduled to resume on Sunday the 6th of December in the meeting houses of Corglass (10:30) and Ervey (12:00). Trinity and Corraneary are scheduled to resume on the 2nd Sunday of the month for the members of these two congregations, commencing on Sunday 13th December.

These arrangements are temporary to help us to safely meet during the pandemic.

To make our services safe we must follow the guidelines issued by the government and PCI until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. a cough, raised temperature) please do not attend church, seek medical advice and isolate.

Keep a safe distance (currently 2 metres) from others before, during and after worship. Please refrain from congregating to chat before or after the services. Please do not make any physical contact with those outside your household (no embracing or handshakes).

Please use hand sanitiser, which will be provided in each church building. You may bring your own hand sanitiser, mask and water for a drink. Face coverings are required for the safety of others present.

To allow for social distancing within the church building, some pews have had to be closed off. As a result, you may not be able to sit in your usual pew at this time. Each family should sit together at a safe distance from other families. The minister will remain in the pulpit for the duration of the service. At the end of the service, you will be ushered out of the church in an orderly fashion. Please follow the instructions given.

Services will be shorter than usual with a reduced number of hymns and the children’s talk included in the sermon. There will be no singing. Music will be played, and you may follow the words on the screen or from your own hymnbook. There will be no Sunday School for the time being. You may bring along a children’s Bible or colouring sheets.

Only one toilet will be available for use. If you do need the toilet, please wipe surfaces you touch, including handles, with wipes provided and place them in the bin provided after use. Young children should be accompanied at all times.

I know this is not the type of service that we are used to. It is not the type of service that we have been missing and longing to get back to. It will be some time before we are back to something resembling the old normality that we miss. We are starting small, but we hope that God will bless us and enable us to grow.

Please note that I will continue to provide the online resources that I have been providing since March. The sermon that I preach in the meeting house each week will also be available at the same time via our church website (www.bgpc.ie). I will also continue to send CDs and sermon scripts to anyone who requests them. I do not want anyone to feel pressured to come and If anyone is at all nervous about attending at the present time that is entirely understandable and I encourage you to stay at home for the time being and avail of these alternative services.

Please see the “Staying Safe at Church” guidance below.

God bless,
Rev. John.

Engage for Teenagers

Engage

Another delivery!

Youth fellowship has also suffered greatly during these pandemic times, so I’ve bought these to help our BGPC teenagers. These “Engage” books are are designed to help teenagers engage with God’s word. If you or your teen would like one, please let me know and I’ll get one out to you.

Bailieborough Group members can request a copy by commenting here or by email or phone.

Also, I want to remind you please just let me know if you’d like a chat about anything.

Table Talk for Families

Look what the courier just delivered!

I know that family Bible time can be difficult, but they are so important for the spiritual development of our children. To help parents, especially in the absence of church Sunday school, I’ve ordered these great little Table Talk books. The books are designed to be quick and easy to use to help you to share in some Bible time with children aged 4 to 12.

Please just let me know you would like a copy for your family and I will get one out to you. Bailieborough Group members can request a copy by commenting here or by email or phone.

Refined – A Digital Conference by PCI

PCI’s first digital conference is now available for congregational use. With present restrictions on gatherings, we cannot come together for conferencing and events in the usual way. Instead, we share the challenge and encouragement of this digital conference at this crucial moment of a very irregular season of our denomination’s life and witness.

As part of the new Refined digital programme for supporting and developing congregational life and witness, the conference material offers encouragement to reflect on recent circumstances and seek God’s leading and guiding for this next season of church life together. 

Neil Hudson, author of Imagine Church and Scattered and Gathered and a long-standing friend of PCI, brings a voice from outside our denomination, calling us back to God’s Word as we find it in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. A panel discussion teases out the application of some of what Neil has said to us in PCI at this time. Other features invite us to personally reflect and respond to God in prayer and praise.

The first version (50 minutes) features the message from Neil Hudson based on 1 Corinthians 3: 9-17 and a panel discussion between the Moderator, Dr David Bruce and Rev Nigel McCullough, facilitated by Rick Hill, PCI’s Discipleship Development Officer. The conference concludes with a prayer.

The reduced version (28 minutes) of the conference features the message from Neil Hudson based on 1 Corinthians 3: 9-17 and concludes with a prayer.

From PCI’s resources for Congregational Life: https://www.presbyterianireland.org/Resources/Congregational-Life/Resources-for-returning-to-church-life.aspx

Church Closure During Stage 3

Dear friends,

Due to the rise in cases of COVID-19, the government has decided move the whole country to Stage 3 of the government’s “National Framework for Living with COVID-19” from midnight on Tuesday the 6th of October. This means that church services must go online for at least three weeks.

This has been all over the news this week, so you probably knew all this already, but I wanted to write to encourage you to continue on. Continue to sow seeds. Continue your worship at home. Continue to join me on for the reflections and prayers online. Continue to play your part in our fellowship. I know missing this Sunday in church is particularly difficult for the Trinity and Corraneary congregations who were planning to have harvest thanksgiving services this Sunday. I know it’s tough going and we’re all tired of this virus and the fight against it has wearied us, but God has brought us together and given us fellowship with one another. Even though we must physically keep our distance from one another, we can still support and love one another and enjoy that fellowship.

Please join us as we seek hope and peace in God’s word during these difficult times. Online sermons and prayer will continue to be provided. For those who would prefer them, I am more than happy to send out audio CDs or sermons in written form.

Please pray for the country, for those who are sick and for those in the front line of this battle against the Coronavirus – those who are fighting directly against the disease, and those who are fighting to keep essential services up and running. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for those who are anxious or lonely. This is a very difficult time, but God is our strength and fortress.

I encourage you all now to read and reflect on the words of Psalm 46.

God bless,
Rev. John.

Psalm 46 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.’

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Please Remember the Presbyterian Children’s Society

In these current hard times I want to make sure that those who are in great need are not forgotten. Normally our collection to support the Presbyterian Children’s Society is done door-to-door by faithful volunteers every year, but that cannot happen this year because Covid. Please spare a few minutes to watch the following video about the Presbyterian Children’s Society (https://www.presbyterianchildrenssociety.org) and consider donating to support them.