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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Summer 2020 issue

The account of St George’s in Lockdown

12th February, and at the Waterlooville Music Festival Committee meeting, it was raised as an afterthought in passing that perhaps the Insurance Policy should be checked as to just what cover we had, should this Coronavirus scare that had closed down a Chinese city become something to impact on the Festival. Little did we know or realise what was to come ....

On 22nd February the Revue: “The Bright Side of Life” was staged, and Lent started on 26th followed by Lent Groups, life was as normal, albeit a few worries about a pocket of Coronavirus in Brighton - resulting in a doctor’s surgery actually being forced to close! A bit extreme?

Then, Tuesday 17th March, lockdown was announced and St George’s Church was closed until further notice. Mothering Sunday - cancelled. The Bishop’s visit for Celebrations to mark the 50th Anniversary of the new church building - cancelled. Funerals and weddings - cancelled.

The Waterlooville Music Festival Committee had a difficult decision to take on the future of the 2020 festival. Where all this was going, and quite how long all the disruption would last was rather unclear, but it was decided that, whilst indications were that all might be back to normal a week or two before the festival was due to take place, it was too big a risk to find ourselves having to cancel it all at the last minute. So on 19th March the announcement was made that Waterlooville Music Festival 2020 was postponed until 2021. The plan is on track for the same programme as was planned for 2020 to take place on the usual dates for 2021, and at the moment preparations for this to happen are progressing well.

As time went on, the Palm Sunday procession - cancelled. The Good Friday walk of witness - cancelled. Easter - cancelled. The Pilgrimage to the Walsingham Shrine - cancelled.

On 19th April, the first live-streamed transmission of a Eucharist, from the Vicarage. Hereafter, Wednesday and Sunday Eucharists were transmitted via YouTube, and the viewing numbers suggested we were attracting quite a few people who were not regular members of the congregation. So this is something that is planned to continue as part of our Church Mission.

19th May saw the first of a weekly Quiz Night, via Zoom, which proved a popular event at a time when any other social activity was not possible.

As we moved into June, restrictions started to ease, and the Live Streaming of the Eucharist was able to take place in the Lady Chapel at the Church, albeit with only Fr Colin present.

At the end of June, the Church was able to re-open for silent, private prayer for a couple of hours, twice a week, and then into July Church services re-opened to the public, under very restrictive and difficult conditions.

It is curious in a way that in the year we mark the anniversary of the rebuilding of the church, it was exactly 50 years ago that the building was last closed to the public... although then, normal church life and services were able to take place in the Church Hall. This time around, fortunately, we had the wonders of YouTube, Zoom and Live-Streaming - a concept that fifty years ago would have been seen as fanciful science-fiction.

For St George’s these events are momentous and historic; for the Church as a whole they are almost unprecedented: the last time the Church was closed to the public was On 23 March 1208 (coincidentally, the same day in 2020 that the government imposed a “lockdown” on the UK). Under instructions from Pope Innocent III, the English bishops suspended the celebration of Mass throughout the kingdom, as well as the other sacraments. That year there would be no Easter liturgy, and the suspension went on for six long years. The suspension of 1208-1214 had nothing to do with a pandemic or with public health; it was, instead, the product of ecclesiastical politics, and was imposed on England by the Pope to punish King John.