I wrote last month about my excitement at welcoming people back to church again. What I didn’t anticipate was how good it would be to have outdoor worship in the churchyard. This has been a revelation, transforming our services on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and at dawn on Easter Day. I also didn’t anticipate that the BBC cameras would be following the Park Lane Stables and the horse they provided on Palm Sunday, thus finding myself on the national BBC news!

Leaving my fleeting stardom aside, there are a number of advantages to churchyard services. The first is that we’re all allowed to sing outdoors, unlike in church when we’re still restricted to a small choir only. The second is that we tend to draw in a few passers-by who are surprised and delighted to join us for a while. The third is that it often feels closer to the stories in the Bible. Much of the action in these stories is outdoors, so we can more easily make the connections when outdoors ourselves. This was particularly true when thinking of the empty tomb on Easter day in a churchyard full of fallen tombstones.

So we plan to follow suit on a few more occasions, the first being Pentecost on May 23rd and then again for ‘Love your Burial Ground Week’ on June 13th. This happens to coincide with my last Sunday before taking a three-month sabbatical so I’m hoping for a sunny send-off.

I’m pleased to leave the parish in the very safe hands of my colleague Caroline Halmshaw. Caroline is coming to the end of her three years as a training Curate at the end of June and would normally move on to be the Vicar of another parish. But I’m delighted that she has agreed to stay on for another year with us as Associate Vicar.

Best wishes,
Rev Joe Moffatt