This month

Thoughts on the Pandemic

Dear Friends,

It was one year ago that I left Dorchester and the Diocese of Salisbury and I am pleased to be asked to make a guest appearance in the pages of the magazine for September 2020. What a time we have had of it! In the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic many of us drew encouragement and hope from the words of Her Majesty The Queen:

We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.

This first speech was then followed by an Easter message, the first of her reign; and by an address to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

In the weeks and months that have followed we have become used to the words – safe, well and alert! We were called to look at our lives in a more essential way, to see what really matters, to ask who the people that sustain and enrich our lives are. A colleague wrote:

We need to be these types of people for others; and of course, we may find time to reflect and reconnect with our spiritual lives. This gives us the knowledge that we are not alone and lost in the world.

All things considered we have managed quite well as a family and we have seen London in a unique way; bathed in sunshine and empty of people!

Each one of us is sustained spiritually in a variety of ways and many of us find joy in the company of other people, with family and friends, with companions at work, on the sports field and in the worshipping community. For those who practise their faith, prayer and worship are important in keeping alive the relationship with God. At my ordination 25 years ago (on the 2nd July) I committed to pray Morning and Evening Prayer every day. Over the years I have found ways of varying the diet and in recent years I have used Reflections for Daily Prayer, as one way in which I can hear the voices of other people, as they commentate on one of the Bible readings said at Morning Prayer.

In the current edition Michael Ipgrave, the Bishop of Lichfield, reflected on the story of an adolescent Jesus talking with the temple elders in Jerusalem (Luke 2.41- end). Bishop Michael invited the reader to reflect on the fourteenth-century Italian artist Simone Martini’s painting Christ Discovered in the Temple, in Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. Jesus stands, arms crossed in an attitude of sulky defiance; Mary sits anxiously, not sure whether to be pleased at finding him or furious at his behaviour; and Joseph mediates, “Say sorry!” Martini captures perfectly the bewilderment of parents experiencing strange behaviour in their children. In challenging times, when we all have the capacity to exhibit behaviour which is out of character, it is reassuring to know it has always happened!

We are living through challenging times and many people are experiencing anxiety about the future, we all wonder what the future will look like! In this story of Jesus in the temple, Jesus’ mother Mary ponders what she has seen, heard and experienced. Mary knows in her heart the familiar patterns of life will never be the same. For us too, the familiar is changing; there is pain and loss in that, but there will also be blessings and new opportunities. Through podcasting and prayer, via Zoom, phone, FaceTime and conference call; in company with friends, family and work colleagues we are preparing for that future.

With best wishes,

Thomas M. B. Woodhouse

Chaplain of the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy within the Duchy of Lancaster, Chaplain of the Royal Victorian Order, Deputy Priest-in-Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen.


Covid-19/Coronavirus Update - Churches Closed

Following the government's announcement last night, we regret to tell you that all church buildings are closed until further notice.

However, we can still keep in touch with one another on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We also now have a YouTube channel where we will post the occasional video.

You can also register an account with this website, which will allow you to log in and contribute to our Forum.

There are also resources online for those hoping to find a virtual service - see Church Online - Virtual Services While Regular Services Cancelled.

And because we all need to remember that the Church is the people, not the buildings, we've chosen to illustrate this article with this excellent cartoon by Dave Walker of CartoonChurch.com, which really says it all. (Click on the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)

About us

Dorchester and the Winterbournes Team Ministry is your local Church of England uniting nine worshipping communities:

St Thomas a Beckett, Compton Valence;
St George, Dorchester;
St Mary the Virgin, Dorchester;
St Peter, Dorchester;
St Andrew, West Stafford;
SS Simon and Jude, Winterborne Herringston and Winterborne Monkton;
St Mary, Winterbourne Abbas;
St Martin, Martinstown;
and St Michael, Winterbourne Steepleton.

We are a community that attracts all kinds of people from across the town of Dorchester and six villages, Christians united by our common faith in Jesus Christ. We are a diverse and welcoming team of Christian communities, committed to prayer, service and growth. You are very welcome to join us in any of the things we do, and we welcome all enquiries.

Almighty God, the source of our joy, you gladden our hearts as we journey towards the heavenly city.
Deepen within us a desire for peace, that celebrating our differences and rejoicing in all we hold in common,
your people may prosper and come to praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Our message to you

You are welcome, whatever your beliefs, even if you find organised religion irrelevant.
You are welcome, whatever your lifestyle.
You are welcome, wherever you may be on your faith journey; believer or agnostic, conventional Christian, or questioning sceptic.
We look forward to receiving the ideas and experiences you can bring.
We welcome the infinite variety of human beings and hope that our shared witness to Christian faith will not leave anyone feeling unwanted or unloved.
We think that the way we treat each other is even more important than the dogmas we hold.
We think it is vital to take seriously the intellectual and emotional problems many people have with the Christian faith.
We think Christians must be concerned with global issues of injustice and suffering.
We recognise that our ignorance far outstrips our understanding and that there is great value just in asking questions as well as in finding answers.
We recognise that our faith involves discipleship and a consciousness of all that is bad and promotion of all that is good.
Our hope is that anybody visiting our churches will feel welcome.