This year’s Animal Blessing Service was a smaller event, but was perhaps more intimate and personal for that. Five dogs brought their owners and friends with them, and after some initial barking settled down for their special service. They listened carefully to see how well their human carers knew them, as each were asked what the dogs enjoyed most. They must have approved of James commending the humans to learn from dogs’ exuberance and positive nature, and were reassured that by his comment that a blessing in church would make a dog no more immune from misbehaving as soon as they leave the church than any human.
The church celebrated today (in a socially-distanced, non-party way) with James, as he presided for the first time among us following his ordination as priest. Joined by his friend Julia Sheffield (from his sending church) who preached, and his parents, church members came together in person and online to thank James for all he had brought to the life of our church. He was presented with a card and present from his friends and folk at St Edmund’s. James acknowledged that it had been a lovely yet strange year, but highlighted that his ordination as priest wasn’t an ending – nor even a beginning – but rather a day of moving along, as we recover from these days of lockdown and find new ways of being with Christ.
On 18 March, St Edmund’s in line with all other churches across England suspended all services and activities in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our main act of worship transferred online using Zoom conferencing, with most of the congregation continuing to come together on video and by phone with an average attendance of 56. Our online worship and fellowship was included by the Diocese of Chelmsford, when it reported on good news stories of how churches were finding new ways to bless their communities. Now five months later, on 23 August, our main act of worship will resume in church, as we move towards finding a ‘new normal’. We are intentionally keeping to our ‘Eucharistic Fast’ for another month, with our first Communion since lockdown on 27 September. This will be the day after James our curate is priested and the service will be a celebration of new beginnings and new ministry, with James presiding.
St Edmund’s – together with our Anglican partners at Chingford Hatch and Higham Hill – are committed to working to reduce our carbon footprint and to take positive action to care for our environment, acknowledging that the world is not ours but God’s. On Saturday 15 February, we met at St Anne’s to hear from The Revd Canon Imogen Nay, who when Rector in Rugby last year led her church to becoming one of just five in the UK to receive an award for its eco-friendly work. We are seeking to learning from her experiences and achieving something similar here in Waltham Forest. Watch this space!
St Edmund’s Annual Christmas Market was held at the end of November, and proved a great celebration for the local community. There was food and stalls and entertainment. Waltham Forest Brass got all into the festive mood with Carols, and Guy Davids played Sax as residents and staff of local care homes danced around the floor. Father Christmas came to bring some magic for the children.