Please note that due to the Covid-19 outbreak our churches are closed and all services and events up to May have been cancelled. We will update this information as things develop. We are finding new ways to serve the community and to worship. Please see online worship material on our Services page and more on the Exeter Diocesan website here. If you would like to contact us please see the following numbers/addresses:
Pastoral Tel: 01392 438866 (pastoral support; prayer requests; information on funerals, weddings, baptisms)
Admin Tel: 07856 848121 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Facebook address: @parishofcentralexeter
Exeter Community Wellbeing: 01392 265000 or email: exeter.gov.uk/wellbeing
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has recently launched Daily Hope which is a FREE phone line of hymns, reflections and prayers to give comfort during the current lockdown.
May Letter from Revd Sheila Swarbrick
As I write this at the end of April, with the continuing uncertainty around the spread of the virus and how any restrictions to the current lockdown will be lifted, we expect to be maintaining our pattern of providing material for worship, prayer and reflection via email and post until June. This time of change can lead us to reflect on what are the most important aspects of our lives as Christians and what does it mean for us to be ‘church’ at this time.
During the Easter season the lectionary gives a reading from Acts each Sunday and for the 3 May this is Acts 2:42-47. Luke’s first summary description of the life of the first believers following the dramatic events of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In May 1996, for a bible study module on Acts, I wrote an essay looking at Acts 2:42 as signs for a healthy church. The verse is ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’. I looked at how these 4 aspects of the first believers’ life together were replicated through the book of Acts and in a new church congregation that I had been part of during my second curacy in Chesterfield.
Now I wonder how this verse can encourage and challenge us today and in the coming months. We can continue to spend time in prayer and in reading/reflecting/listening/writing/drawing or whatever ways you find to develop your understanding of the Christian faith. But this is all very individualistic and life as a Christian has always been outward-looking, serving others, caring for the poor and vulnerable, offering hospitality. Some of us can get involved in our local neighbourhoods with community support or with the foodbank but many of us are confined to our homes. Some of us will be able to give money and will have our favourite charities while others are not in that position. For many years Christian Aid has had its annual week for street collecting and fund-raising events in May but obviously this cannot happen though the need for funds to support other countries is critical. The local Christian Aid representative has put together a leaflet showing the different ways we can donate, and I will include it with this letter.
In the midst of the suffering that many in our country and across the world are experiencing we can continue to use the prayers I shared in the April letter. This month I will conclude with a prayer of encouragement as we move from the Easter season to Ascensiontide and onto Pentecost.
Lord, help us not to dwell too much on the past,
holding you to the Galilean hills and the streets of Jerusalem,
but to know you more and more as present Lord and Saviour,
risen, ascended, and always present with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
With love and prayers for you all
April letter from Revd Sheila Swarbrick
A few weeks ago, as Christians we began Lent, aware that there was this unseen virus travelling the world but probably having no idea that it would change our lives quite so much. The Church Mission Society had produced a Lent resource called ‘Lament for Lent’, encouraging us to use psalms to lament over the injustices of the world, with no idea how much we would need to lament this Lent. Each week they have a prayer with the first sentence using a quote from an African Archbishop. Here is one of those prayers –
‘God of love.
There are things that can be seen only with eyes that have cried.
Give us, we pray, courage this Lent to give ourselves to lamentation
and to know again that your steadfast love never ceases (Lamentations 3:22).
Deepen our love for you, and for your world. So bring your healing now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.’
Now as we move into April with no public worship or gatherings, yet as Christians we remember the events of Holy Week – a time of great uncertainty and suffering – we may find we can connect more with the experiences of God’s people through the ages and today in many other parts of the world. Recently I have been reading Psalms 42-44 and I want to share with you two of the prayers that are given as meditations following these psalms in the preliminary Daily Prayer from Common Worship
Creator God, whose life-giving Spirit wells up with streams of living water,
sustain those whose spirits are heavy and whose wells have run dry,
through Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation.
In the darkness of unknowing,
when your love seems absent and your favour far away,
draw near to us, O God, through Jesus Christ,
the forsaken one, the risen one, our redeemer and our Lord.
Our celebration of Easter will necessarily be different this year, but it can be no less joyful as we know that the risen Lord appeared to the disciples behind locked doors. As we remain in our homes we can continue to say ‘Christ is in the midst of us! He is, and ever shall be!’ (Russian Orthodox acclamation)
With love and prayers for you all
March letter from the chair of the Parochial Church Council of the Parish of Central Exeter to all our parishioners – scroll down for a prayer for those in isolation and a link to useful resources:
“The present emergency is changing daily and is affecting the Church of England in the same way as everyone else. We shall try to keep you all updated about significant changes in the life of this Parish.
At present all public church services in the Parish and throughout the Church of England have been suspended. There are no services taking place in our churches until further notice. This includes Tuesdays at St Pancras. We are looking at ways in which as a Parish we can retain some sense of communal worship even if we are unable to meet physically. Please look out for more on this.
The Annual Church Meeting and all associated activities eg membership of PCC, churchwardens etc is postponed until October at least, and in the meantime everyone retains their current status.
You may like to look at the diocesan website on this link here for prayers, other resources and ideas during this stressful period.
A prayer for those in isolation
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill,
afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone
on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Go well, everyone”
The Parish of Central Exeter offers a variety of services, drawing upon both traditional and contemporary strands. The monthly 8.00am Sunday morning services in St Pancras use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; the twice monthly Eucharist in St Olave and the more flexible communion services at St Stephen’s use Common Worship. In addition, an informal act of worship, Meeting Point, is held in St Stephen’s twice a month.
Being part of God’s mission of love and reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, we are committed to:
Giving breathing space
- Providing an open, inclusive and non-judgemental atmosphere
- Providing a range of opportunities for worship and prayer
- Informing others about us
- Encouraging innovative use of our church buildings
Living the values
- Growing & developing our varied groups and congregations
- Supporting ourselves and others on the spiritual journey
- Supporting our work through prayer
- Responding to the needs of others
- Being open to the call of the spirit
Engaging with the city
- Discovering what others need from us
- Integrating the St Stephens Project with our overall mission
- Working with other agencies and churches
- Through shared use & these historic buildings available to all
If you have a concern about the safety of someone or the actions of someone working with children or vulnerable adults, please speak to someone:
- Our Parish Safeguarding Representative is Mary Keaney, tel No: 07856 848121
- Or find the Exeter Diocesan Safeguarding Team details here
If you are a young person and you feel unhappy about something happening to you, you can call Childline on 0800 11 11
If you are experiencing Domestic Abuse or know of someone experiencing Domestic Abuse please see the following link for support agencies and telephone numbers Domestic Abuse Support Contacts