watch our online services: 


The Coronavirus changes:

Most of our 'normal' events have changed significantly. Yet, we still want to welcome you, whoever you are and wherever you're from. We're here for you and long that something on our website blesses you by pointing you to Jesus :-) We're now doing more and more online, and are constantly striving to be creative in how we reach out with the news of Jesus. We're doing Sunday services online, Pilgrim Groups (Bible Studies), Fearless and Prayer Meetings via Zoom, and Men's & Women's Breakfasts online.

Sadly there have had to be a few cancellations, first among them was our APCM, which should've been at the end of March. This will now be postponed until our Church buildings are back open and we're able to gather physically again.

Please find our April Church Prayer Diary here.

Please find the April's edition of the Parish Magazine here.

And below is an interesting article written by our Treasurer Iain Taylor on when church buildings in the UK were last closed:


WHEN WERE CHURCH BUILDINGS LAST SHUT IN BRITAIN?

 

The Coronavirus has taken over our lives with seemingly unstoppable momentum and will live long in our memories as its death toll around the world mounts so relentlessly. The Church of England responded sensibly, closing the doors of every parish church for the foreseeable future and saying we will be ‘a different sort of church in these coming months’. Alfold & Loxwood, like many Christian churches, is adjusting to that new reality, so we now watch our Sunday services on YouTube and attend Pilgrim Groups via the unfamiliar technology of Zoom. 

 

But, as we cope with social distancing and struggle to fill our time after ‘wfh’ (working from home) for the day, we might consider when the doors of our church buildings were last locked against their parishioners like this?

 

Interrupting our great tradition of Christian worship, going back to Saxon or even Roman times, would take something remarkable and terrible, one might think. So how about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6: 1-8) and what they represent – war, famine, pestilence and death?

 

The last major famine in England was in 1623-4. Hunger was a particular problem during the medieval period, with the Great Famine of 1315-17 killing up to 25% of the population, but the churches were never shut. Or world war? The blitz of 1940 destroyed many beautiful church buildings but Hitler’s Luftwaffe didn’t stop them being used for worship. Civil War? Puritans fought Roundheads from 1642-46 largely on competing conceptions of Protestantism. Although churches sometimes suffered the destruction of their graven images (the Puritan view), they were never shut, nor were they during the Wars of the Roses two centuries earlier. Pestilence? During the Bubonic Plague of 1665, which killed tens of thousands of Londoners so dreadfully, people were still ‘crowding into the churches’. The same was doubtless true during the Black Death of 1348-50, when up to a third of the population of our parish might have died.

 

The answer to the question involves not a Horseman but a disobedient monarch. In 1208 King John (of Magna Carta fame) refused to accept the Pope’s choice for the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded in drastic fashion, laying on all of England and Wales what was called a General Interdict. This meant, in theory at least, that most church rituals (such as Mass and funerals) were suspended, except for infant baptism and the confession of the dying. 

 

One chronicler wrote:

 

‘What a horrible and miserable spectacle it was to see in every city the sealed doors of the churches, Christians shut out from entry as though they were dogs, the cessation of divine office, the withholding of the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord’. 

 

The interdict was only lifted in 1214. We hope and pray that the Coronavirus will abate swiftly, for to be locked out of our church buildings for six long years, as John’s subjects were, would be truly awful. 



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