We give thanks for Prince Philip who died today (Friday 9 April) and remember him before God in this Easter season, and we pray for The Queen and her family. The flag on St Michael’s tower now flies at half mast, the tenor bell there will toll half-muffled ninety-nine times at noon tomorrow (Saturday 10 April), and prayers will be offered at our services the following day at 9.30 at St Gabriel’s and at St James’ and 11.00 at St Michael’s. We are sorry that Covid restrictions mean that other markings of his death such as the signing of a book of condolence or the laying of flowers are not possible.
It was good to share Easter Communion with live congregations, with St Gabriel’s having a Covid-safe capacity congregation, even if we were not allowed to sing in either church yet. We do now cautiously plan to continue with a service each Sunday morning at 9.30 a.m. at St Gabriel’s and 11.00 a.m. at St Michael’s on the old pattern of Morning Worship on 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays in each month and Communion on 2nd and 4th Sundays. Today (Tuesday 6th April) the decorators move into St Michael’s for six weeks, the final stage of the huge re-roofing and then re-wiring project; there should be clear space in which to worship on a Sunday, and we will have to see what Government guidelines are in place for mid-week prayer and tourist opening when they get near to completing this work mid-May.
In Holy Week, we will experiment with holding five forty-five minute services.
These will only be for those who feel safe attending and who are willing to abide by careful Covid-safe precautions: wearing masks unless exempt; hand sanitising on entry; sitting well apart as an individual, household or bubble; not socialising on leaving).
It is legal for public worship to take place – but we (and many other churches) have been wary of how practical or responsible this would be, and we had been given the Bishop’s permission not to do so. The Standing Committees of our two Parochial Church Councils has now unanimously agreed this cautious reopening plan.
Palm Sunday (Sunday 28 March)
10.15 a.m. – Palm Sunday reflections at St Michael’s, Haworth
Good Friday (Friday 2 April)
2.15 p.m. – Good Friday devotions at St James’, Cross Roads
Easter Day (Sunday 4 April)
9.30 a.m. – Easter Communion at St Gabriel’s, Stanbury
9.30 a.m. – Easter Communion at St James’, Cross Roads
11.00 a.m. – Easter Communion at St Michael’s, Haworth.
We will then reflect further. How have these services gone? What is the local Covid rate? Does the Government timetable still anticipate things like non-essential retail and gyms opening from 12 April? We might then plan to continue to hold our usual pattern of Sunday worship (at all three churches) from 11 April and then our usual mid-week worship (at St James’, Cross Roads) from 14 April.
Three formal and informal notices at Sunday 7 March.
Covid cases have increased locally and the Church Council’s Standing Committee and those it has consulted hasn’t been able to come to a common mind about re-restarting public worship, but it hopes to think again and to announce re-start a date soon, possibly Palm Sunday.
We are just submitting a formal application for permission to put bird netting across the west window of St Michael’s (something the Church Council agreed a year ago) and a Public Notice will go up outside the church for twenty-eight days beginning tomorrow.
We have just issued a Press Release (see below) about sensitive support being offered to those exploring the possibility of placing a memorial on a shared babies’ grave in Haworth Cemetery.
A little known but special section of Haworth Cemetery may soon be better marked.
Rev Peter Mullins, Rector of Haworth, is helping those who wish to mark the passing of the young children and babies of the parish of Haworth from times past.
About fifty children were buried in a shared grave in Haworth Cemetery between 1958 and 1971. This may have been a financial choice or one of compassion as many families were glad of the opportunity not to have their baby buried alone. The grave is by the wall at the top of the cemetery and is currently unmarked.
Caroline Henry of Oakworth says ‘My brother Steven is one of those buried there. He died in 1964. I know the lifelong sadness and pain my parents felt, keeping their terrible loss to themselves and feeling unable to share their grief. We would love there to be a simple memorial which shows that the children and their parents are not forgotten’.
Bradford MDC who are responsible for the Cemetery are supportive of a memorial commemorating the children and any memorial would not include individual names or religious references.
‘The first thing,’ Rev Peter Mullins says ‘is to make sure that the other families of those buried there have an opportunity to be express their opinion or be involved. Nobody wants to do something which would exclude them or even upset them.’
‘I suppose there might also be others who would like to offer practical or financial help – creating and installing an appropriate memorial is likely to cost in the region of £4000’.