Third National Lockdown

Dear Friends

Following the Government decision on national lockdown on Monday 4th January, the Standing Committee of the PCC met on Tuesday to discuss the situation, and the ministry leadership team also discussed this.

Although government guidelines say churches could remain open for collective worship, as long as updated new guidelines were strictly followed, the Bishop of Bristol and the diocesan leadership have made clear their understanding of the severity of the pandemic situation, and that the decision whether or not to remain open for collective worship, is a local one for each parish. Bishop Viv also made clear that they trust the decision making of local parishes, and will fully support whatever decision the parishes make.

The leadership teams of St Matthews Bristol have unanimously and clearly agreed that we should pause our services in the St Matthews church building for the time being, and focus our worship on Sunday worship online, and other online offerings.

The Covid figures continue to be hugely alarming, and we owe a duty of care to ensure each other’s safety during this critical phase of the pandemic, and to all play our own part in halting the spread of Covid. We believe there is simply too much risk associated with meeting in groups in church at this time, however hard we try to mitigate things and follow guidelines.

The leadership teams shall continue to meet together over the coming days, to discuss how we can respond to people’s needs during this lockdown, and to care for those who are particularly vulnerable and isolated. We shall also continue to constantly review the ongoing Covid situation with regard to the church building, dependent on how things evolve.

It is of course, disappointing to be in this situation again. But we do so as the Body of Christ, called to walk alongside our neighbours and those amongst whom we live. We also do so as people of hope. May we again encourage each other in living out this life of hope on the frontline of your lives, and looking out for others? Thank you for all you are already doing.

As we move forward, please join us in praying for each other and our communities. We ask for your prayers too, for us as a leadership team, but also for the most vulnerable of our communities, and those in greatest need at this time. Please do let us know if there is any specific help or support we can give you during this lockdown.

As Paul said to the church of the Thessalonians, ‘We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3Open Link in New Window).

Yours in Christ


Rev Ian Tomkins, Vicar.

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Kingsdown Advent Trail

A huge well done is due to everyone from St. Matthew’s and the local community who worked together to create the Kingsdown Advent Trail this year. It was Christmas, but not as we know it, so it was amazing to see how adaptable people to mark Jesus’ birthday in a new and special way. Click to see all of the different windows in case you missed what people came up with:Advent trail photos 2020

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Christmas 2020

Dear Friends

What a year! As we celebrated Christmas at St Matthew’s last year, and as we journeyed into the new year with the joy and hope our Alpha Course, none of us could have foreseen what would happen from March onwards. I am sure many will speak of 2020 being a year to forget. Yet the reality of this year is that it will in fact be one which people will especially remember.

It will be remembered due to the sadness, hardship, grief and anxiety which so many people have encountered and endured. It will also be remembered as a year of dedicated service, care and compassion of frontline workers across the country, the coming together of local communities, the sustaining of scattered church communities, and millions of simple acts of loving kindness from one person to another.

In the Bible, in his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’

Amidst the cacophony of life and in contrast to an all too frequent culture of judgmentalism and competition, it seems to me that living life God’s way has more than shown itself in 2020, to be the true way to know and experience ‘life in all its fullness’. Comfort and Joy come from knowing that we are loved by God, and living out his purposes in the world, sustained and encouraged by the Hope that Jesus Christ brings. It is His ways we see in the fruit of the Spirit, and I am more convicted than ever about God’s redeeming love for our world.

With this in mind, I want to thank all of you at St Matts—established church friends, new friends and colleagues, and all those walking with us, for your love, care, patience and forbearance in the past nine months. Due to a worldwide pandemic, focus and direction in life may at times feel confused and uncertain. But there remains one undeniable certainty—that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:11Open Link in New Window).

As we re-focus for 2021, I encourage you to look again to the source of all life and meaning. ‘For in Him we live, and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:28Open Link in New Window). Continue to live out those acts of loving kindness—fruit of the Spirit, and proclaim Jesus Christ with confidence. Pray for our Alpha Online, starting on 13th January 2021, and who you could invite to find the love of Jesus for themselves.

The theologian Karl Barth said, ‘In God alone is there faithfulness and faith in the trust that we may hold to him, to his promise, and to his guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty.’

I wish you comfort and joy in Jesus Christ, this Christmas and in the new year to come.

Rev Ian Tomkins, Vicar

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Midweek Thought—Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

A message, err, straight from the horse’s mouth!

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