Funerals – What to do if you cannot attend?

During this time, when the world is faced with the Coronavirus Pandemic, people will continue to sadly die, from illness and disease, from accidents and from old age.  However, in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, for the time being at least, the way funerals happen have to be changed.

The principal changes are that funerals may now only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside.   Numbers attending will be strictly limited to only immediate family members – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, all of whom must keep their distance in the prescribed way.  Sadly it is not recommended that those over the age of 70 or with underlying health issues attend.

This does unfortunately mean that extended family, friends and neighbours cannot attend.  We understand how difficult that this can be, so this short reflection ( Funerals liturgy at home public ) has been specially written for you to do at home, alone or with those who share your home. You might ask others to take part at the same time from their home.

When this time of social distancing is over, there may well be an opportunity to meet together at a special time of remembering and thankfulness. Your memories now can be part of that experience when the time comes.

If you would like to speak to someone please contact a member of our ministry team, whose details can be found here.

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8.38-39)

Worship Resources

Just because services in our churches are currently suspended because of Coronavirus COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that we stop being church, and cannot still worship together.

The following are just some of the resources that are available to all of us:

Television programs
Sunday:           Songs of Praise at 1.15pm on BBC 1

Radio programs
Daily:               Prayer for the Day at 5.43am on Radio 4                                                                                                        Daily Service at 9.45am on Radio 4 Longwave and DAB

(The Daily Service is available on a Radio 4 DAB side channel which is automatically made available about a minute before the programme begins.  After tuning to Radio 4 DAB, select “Daily Service” (from your display) with the tuning wheel and press the selector button. On some radios the side channel can be stored on a preset button)

Weekly:           Sunday’s            Sunday Worship at 8.10am on Radio 4
                                                             National “Virtual” Service at 8am on Local BBC Radio                                                                          (and online in the Church of England and BBC from 9am)
                                                              Choral evensong at 3.00pm on Radio 3

Wednesday’s   Lent Talks  at 8.45pm on Radio 4
                                                               Choral evensong at 3.30pm on Radio 3

Online / On Demand

Many TV’s also have access to BBC iPlayer & BBC Sounds programs which offer a large number of Religious and Ethical programs.


Monday to Saturday at 8.30am – Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike will stream Morning Prayer.   You can watch live or at a time to suit you at

Monday to Friday at 5pm – St Edmundsbury Cathedral will stream Evensong/Evening Prayer.

Saturday & Sunday at 3.30pm – St Edmundsbury Cathedral will stream Evensong/Evening Prayer.

Sundays at 10am – St Edmundsbury Cathedral will stream a Holy Communion Service

You can watch live at

Other Resources

The Church of England have issued prayer and intercessions suitable for individual and families to use at home.  The can be found at:

Important Information about Church Services

[Updated – 24th March 2020 – Closure of Church Buildings]

This afternoon (17th March 2020), the Archbishops of York and Canterbury announced that all acts of public worship across the Church of England are to be suspended until further notice.

Whilst this is an unprecedented action, it is rooted with the love and compassion for our neighbours at its heart , at a time when the whole world is coming to terms with how to live differently in the face of the Coronavirus, the Church have made the difficult choice to protect some of the most vulnerable in our communities by setting aside our need to worship together – remembering that whatever we do, we already know that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)
Whilst this decision will mean that all public services in the 5 churches in our benefice are suspended until further notice, our churches will continue to remain open during the day for anyone to come in and pray. (as of 24th March 2020 – we are following updated government guidelines, therefore all churches will be closed).
On behalf of the whole community, Revd Mark, together with our retired priests, Revd Val and Revd John,  will continue to meet and prayer and celebrate the Eucharist together.  If you want to join with us in prayer from your own homes then we will be beginning this coming Sunday at 10am.
It is important to remind ourselves that this is not a suspension of Church, but rather a moment at which we will explore different and creative ways of being the Body of Christ.    As a benefice and a community we will continue to offer pray and pastoral support to everyone who would benefit from it by telephone and email, and if you are feeling lonely, or isolated, or just a little down, then please do not hesitate to contact Revd Mark who will be happy to talk or pray with you, or to arrange for another member of our Pastoral Team to speak with you.
Over the weeks and months ahead, we will be experimenting with different ways of keeping our communication with one another ongoing; different ways we can pray together; different ways in which we can care for each other.  We will provide details of services and resources online and will provide prayer and other materials for you to keep.  Please do also listen to services which are available on the national radio stations, as well as from the Church of England on Alexa and Google Aps.
For now we will continue to be the Body of Christ, and to be Christ to those whom we live alongside.
We will continue to pray, for our leaders and health care workers, for our families and neighbours, for our local businesses and employers.  Please do also pray for your priests and ministers.  For prayer ideas click here
Please do what you can for your neighbours, check in on the elderly or housebound (but remember to keep your distance if people are isolating).  Do shop local if you can and support our village shops and butchers.
Finally please do contact Revd Mark if you are ill, so that we can pray specifically for you, and offer practical help if we can.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.

Suspension of ALL Church Coffee Mornings, Afternoon Teas, Community Lunches, and Messy Church



We have made the decision to suspend all church activities where refreshments play a significant part. This is based on advice we have received from the Church of England (based on NHS and Public Health England) to help minimise the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

This also means that we will not be serving refreshments before/after our regular Sunday Services.

We are sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause.

We hope that all events will recommence as soon as possible, but only once we are advised that it is safe to do so.

Evening Praise (15th March 2020) – Cancelled


Due to the number of individuals who are considered to be at “higher risk” of complications should they catch the Coronavirus COVID-19, who attend Evening Praise in Leavenheath Village Hall, and also that the advice from the Church of England is currently not to share refreshments (which is an important part of the hospitality and welcome at Evening Praise), we have taken the decision to Cancel this Sundays service (15th March).

We will continue to monitor the developing situation in respect of all services in the Benefice.

We also continue to prayer for all who are worried or concerned about the virus and indeed any health issue, and pray too for all those medical and scientific professionals working to minimise the impact and care for those infected.

Cancellation of 2 upcoming fundraising events

Please note that in response to the current concerns over the Coronavirus COVID-19 and a desire to both limit its potential spread and indeed to not put some of our more vulnerable members of the community at unnecessary risk, it has unfortunately been decided that the following 2 fundraising events will be cancelled (but will be re-arranged at a later date):

14th March 2020 – Stoke By Nayland Parish Quiz

28th March 2020 – Leavenheath “Call my Wine Bluff”

If you would like a refund, please get in touch with the person you purchased from – otherwise the money will be held over to the rearranged event.

Also please note that the Wednesday Coffee Morning in St James’ Church in Nayland this coming Wednesday (18th March) is also cancelled as there will be no power to the church that morning.

We apologise for any disappointment or inconvenience that this will cause.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Important Information

A message from Bishop Martin in respect of Coronavirus (COVID-19):

“Our first response to the spread of the Coronavirus is to care for those who are most vulnerable, and to ensure practices, as best as possible, that will not contribute to infection. We need in particular to look out for those who do not have good support networks to ensure they receive the help and care they need. The tendency evidenced from behaviours like panic buying is for some people to think just of themselves – we are called to behave differently.

I realise there is a great deal of uncertainty among us as clergy and among our congregations, so I want to give advice for clarity and will update this as necessary.

These are basic practices I would now strongly advise we should all be adopting, particularly in relation to worship.

• We should all be more attentive to our normal hygiene routine of washing our hands thoroughly and often with soap and water or hand sanitiser (60% alcohol).

• At communion the priest and those who assist should wash with hand sanitiser before and after distribution.

• Communion should be only in one kind. I realise this is not yet the national guidance, but I would rather us take this step now and become used to it than regret that we did not take it sooner.

• The practice of intinction, dipping the bread into the wine, is not an option. It is an unhealthy practice in any event and should not happen. I realise it has spread widely in our churches in recent years, as an honest but misguided attempt to protect ourselves from others’ germs, or them from ours. Intinction actually presents greater risks than drinking from the same cup. Unhygienic fingers and fingernails all too often dip into the wine. Small pieces of bread break off, creating a real hazard for those who are gluten intolerant.

• No receiving the host on the tongue since there is a greater danger of passing on infection by this means.

• The peace should be passed without contact. I realise this, along with these other requirements, will seem difficult to many and urge you to develop local practices where you convey the sense of the unity of the body through other gestures – there seem to be plenty of ideas on how to do this.

• Holy water stoups should be emptied and remain so for the time being.

The Church of England’s team for Health and Social Policy is responsible for updates on the Coronavirus. They are working collaboratively with the Government and Public Health officials. The situation will be kept under close review and both the Diocesan office and my office are being updated regularly.

There is a dedicated page on the Church of England’s website which contains up to date advice. The news page on the diocesan website is the place to go for up to date advice

Since information is changing rapidly please do check the dedicated website page for regular updates

I want to thank you for your cooperation and emphasise that these are precautionary measures that will be removed once the Government gives the all clear.

We continue to pray for all those people caught up in the coronavirus situation, for those who are sick and for those who care for them, and for those responsible for planning for our care.”

Last Updated: 9th March 2020

Holy Land and Sri Lanka

Revd Mark has always enjoyed travelling, and he now enjoys sharing the joy of visiting  places around the world with all who wish to experience the Holy, the Sacred and the beauty of God’s creation.

This year it is not too late to join him from the 14th to 23rd June 2020 on a wonderful 10 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   Spend time in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.  Explore the deserts around Jericho and Massada.  Float in the Dead Sea and swim in the Sea of Galilee.

landscape tree hill river travel beauty culture traditional sri lanka rural area tours

Alternatively, why not join him for a Spiritual and Cultural Tour to Sri Lanka, an amazing Island Paradise of Forests, Mountains, Tea Plantations, Elephants, Leopards and Beaches; not forgetting the strong Buddhist and Christian communities and the legacy of the British of what was then Ceylon.

Full details of both of these tours, including how you can book, can be found at:

From Bishop Martin – a response to Pastoral Guidance on Civil Partnerships

I have just returned from a two-day meeting of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England to review the developments in the “Living in Love and Faith” project.  This project will produce resources that will help the Church to learn how questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of what it means to embody a Christian vision of living holy lives in love and faith in our culture.  It is seeking to find a way through our deep differences on these matters.

The meeting began and ended with expressions of great sorrow and distress about last week’s publication of “Pastoral Guidance on Civil Partnerships for same sex and opposite sex couples.”  As you may be very aware, this and the resulting comments have caused a great deal of hurt to many people, both within the church and in wider society.  An apology, signed by the Archbishops on behalf of the Bishops, is due to be issued on Friday.

Whilst this statement was generated when I was on sabbatical, I share in the corporate responsibility for its production. I am very sorry that it was published, and indeed produced in the first place, and for the deep personal pain and sense of rejection that so many have felt by its content and tone.

I and a number of my colleagues asked that the document be withdrawn, but this was decided against by the majority.  Whilst I accept it expresses the existing official position of the Church of England on the place of sexual activity in our lives, I cannot grasp why it needed to be stated now and in this way, particularly since we are currently in the process of questioning, learning and reflecting as part of the “Living in Love and Faith” project.

I recognise that some hold that the current teaching is exactly what we should be saying; others feel that we can say it, but in a way that suggests it is an aspiration; and still others want the Church’s teaching to more clearly reflect the ways in which sex is part of relationships that are not, or not yet, marriage.

Personally, I would hope that we can move away from this narrow focus on sexual activity towards encouraging relationships which embody and reflect God’s love for us, in which we support one another, and those who seek our help, whether single or in a faithful and committed relationships, to deepen lives in which we ever more truly know and show the fullness of God’s love for us all.