COVID-19 Briefing 13/10

It was a challenge I set myself as a young adult – to learn Romans chapter 8 by heart. Compared with the old Jewish practice of learning the whole Pentateuch (or the Muslim memorisation of the Koran) it should have been a stroll in the park, though it still took this bear-of-little-brain a while to achieve it. But even now, those rolling phrases from that great chapter frequently come to mind just when I need them: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his good purpose’. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’
Christian hope is at the heart of this chapter – not some false cheerfulness or mindless optimism, but a hope that is set against the darkest backdrop of suffering and persecution, and is inextricably linked with the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son and the coming of His Spirit. There is plenty of groaning along the way: the whole creation is groaning, we are groaning, the Spirit is groaning – but groaning ‘as in the pains of childbirth’, the image itself speaking of wonderful and unimaginable things to come. And following the great series of rhetorical questions at the end of the chapter, we come to the most moving verses of all, which I intoned, through the tears, at my own father’s funeral a year ago on Sunday:
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’.   
Let’s never settle for a bargain-basement hope, the ‘Peace, Peace, where there is no peace’, which is always a feature of false prophecy. Let’s continue to be nourished by the hope of Romans 8, with all its frustration and its groanings and with its roots deeply embedded in the amazing grace of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bishop Andrew

Critical Reading

Lay Minister Licensing

This Saturday, 17th October, eight new people will be admitted as Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers), and licensed to the Diocese along with one other LLM who has moved to Guildford.  Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there will be two services (with limited-size congregations), at 5.00 and 6.15, both at St Thomas-on-the-Bourne, Farnham.  The services will however be livestreamed from the church’s website so that everyone can participate.  

Please do pray for these LLMs as they begin their new ministry.

Archdeacon visitations 

Virtual Archdeacon’s Visitations will take place between 1930 to 2000 on the following twelve dates through November.
   All registrations can be found on our page dedicated to Churchwardens.

We hope that churchwardens will be able to join the Archdeacon and Area Dean in the Zoom for their Deanery in order to meet local colleagues but please register for the date that suits your diary.   Once registered you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link. The visitations have enough capacity for each churchwarden to be joined, in addition to household members on their screen,  by their incumbent and a supporter who is not on the same Zoom call.  If your parish has assistant wardens please invite them to register to join the virtual gathering too. Remember to send your completed declarations and certificates to the Archdeacons Office after your APCM. 


IICSA report

The final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) into the Church of England has been published.

The National Church of England has issued a statement on its publication.

Commenting on the final report, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson said, “I, for one, am desperately sorry for the ways in which the Church has failed victims of abuse, and am very conscious of their pain today. We must do better in building a culture where the needs of survivors are paramount, where  perpetrators can’t hide, and where all can experience the ‘life in all its fulness’ that lies at the heart of the Christian good news.”

Support is available for victims and survivors via the Safe Spaces service.

For your information 

Prisons Week 2020 United in Lockdown

The Diocese of Guildford joins the Christian community to pray for the needs of all those affected by prisons: prisoners and victims, their families, their communities, those working and volunteering in prisons and the criminal justice system.

This week, the Bishop’s leadership team are praying for our Prison Chaplains and the work they are doing in such a different time. 

Listen to Lesley (a prison Chaplain) talk about her experiences in and out of lockdown. 

Modern Slavery & Exploitation, The Clewer Initiative, Antislavery Day 18th October 2020

More than 200 years after the abolition of slavery there are still estimated over 45 million men, women and children trapped in modern slavery today, 136,000 in the UK.

The Clewer Initiative’s aim is to enable Church of England dioceses and wider Church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care. It involves working with the Church locally, identifying resources that can be utilised, developing partnerships, and creating a wider network of advocates seeking to end modern slavery together.

On this year’s antislavery day, 18th October please pray for the trafficked, the exploited, the enslaved; Pray for those working day & night to rescue and support victims. Pray that together we can whole heartedly say WE SEE YOU.


The postponed ordinations which are usually held in services at the cathedral, with 1,000 guests, were held over seven services this weekend, with only 30 people permitted per service. 

The two Bishops, Archdeacons and Diocesan Director of Ordinands travelled across the diocese to each service which were live streamed by our expert Parish tech teams to the Diocesan YouTube channel.

Over the weekend the recordings were viewed 5,615 times and the live chats were filled with support, congratulations and amens after the prayers. People tuned in from across the diocese and from as far away as New Zealand, Italy and America. 

Sunday Sermons – a choice this week

We are encouraging a focus on sermons from the Transforming Generosity resources during October, though our bishops will continue to offer a lectionary sermon each week.

Transforming Generosity Sunday Sermon

During October the Transforming Generosity sermons can be used and are in a playlist on YouTube.

This week, Bishop Andrew preaches from Luke 18:18-30 – The Rich Ruler
Sermon video: The Rt Revd Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford

Sermon transcript (Word)

Service outline (Word)

Service template (Powerpoint)

Sunday Sermon

In this Sunday’s lectionary sermon, Bishop Andrew preaches from Matthew 22:15-22 on the theme of tax, tithing and our dual citizenship in a Covid age, and coins the phrase ‘God loves a cheerful taxpayer’. 

Join us this Wednesday afternoon for Inhabiting innovation

2-3pm Wednesday, October 14th

Led by Ed Olsworth-Peter, National Adviser for Pioneer Development, for the Church of England.

A digital seminar for those in church leadership exploring what mission and ministry could look like beyond lockdown. Joined by members of the National Anglican Community of Pioneers who will share their insights from lockdown, this session will draw on pioneering principles and qualities as a foundation for thinking in fresh ways within the local church and community. It will explore how to innovate something new within your church tradition in response to the changing world around us as well as exploring what a physically gathered and digital mixed ecology of church could look like.

For the latest National guidance click here
For the latest Diocesan guidance click here
Next briefing will be issued on 20th October 2020