Chaplain’s Newsletter – December 2020


Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

As you journey towards Christmas may the holy star lead you to the place where you find Jesus for yourself

Personal news

As you probably already know I have indicated to the Dean that I will be standing down as Chaplain at the end of December. This is simply because the business side of things has begun to take up so much of my time that it impinges on my other commitments and on the interests that I promised I would pursue when I retired.  However, although I will cease to play any part in the governance, meetings and committees of the chapel beyond December, the Dean has accepted my offer to continue to lead or organise worship until the spring when the covid vaccine has been rolled out and we can all go back to being together in one service on a Sunday. Beyond that I would be very happy to celebrate and preach as often as invited.

Celebrants and preachers during December

Dec 20th I am delighted to say that on the 20th of Dec the Revd Alison Askew will be our preacher at the 10am Eucharist and will then both preach and be our celebrant at the 11am Eucharist.

Dec 25th  Although we will not be having midnight mass this year we will have our ‘normal’ two Eucharists on Christmas day – one at 10am and the other at 11am. The Chaplain will preach and celebrate at both services. Because of very limited spaces if you are not a member of our congregation please phone 01765 602863 well in advance to see if we have any spare seats at that particular service.

Dec 27th I am extremely grateful to the Revd. Prebend Jackie Fox who has very kindly agreed to come and be our preacher and celebrant at both our 10 and our 11am Eucharists.

No Midnight mass this year

It is with a very heavy heart that I am proposing that we avoid having a Midnight Mass this year. Due to social distancing restrictions we are unable to seat and fit all our existing congregation into one midnight service,  it would be even more unfortunate if unexpected visitors turn up for Midnight Mass  and we had to turn them away because there was ‘no room in the inn’.

I do, however, propose to put on our ‘normal’ pattern of services (i.e. 10am and 11am) on Christmas day and again on Sunday the 27th. Please make sure that you come to the same time service that you normally attend on Sundays.

If you know that you will be unable to attend on Christmas day please let me know as far in advance as you can. This will enable me to know if we will have any spare seats should potential visitors ring up and ask if we can fit them in. Thank you.

Chapel finances

Thank you to all the members of the congregation who responded to the request to pay their collection through Standing order. As you can imagine ‘loose plate’ collections have plummeted this year because of lockdown and this has obvious implications.

We are very fortunate in that we are part of the Dean’s parish and able to worship in a building maintained by the Trustees. Because of this we do not face some of the demands and hardships faced by normal congregations. However, we still need to pay our bills and meet our commitments, so as we move towards a new year please, please make sure your weekly giving is realistic and updated in line with changing costs.

Update on the Outhouse renovation project

There are two things to share.

Firstly, as you know the work was put out to tender in September. The results came back in the middle of October. The lowest quote for the work was from a firm called ‘Scothern Construction Ltd.’ Even their quote was much higher than anticipated. When the architect’s fees, other fees and V.A.T. is included it adds up to a very considerable sum. As a result, those with relevant experience within the Project Working Group are looking into ways to revise the specifications and so cut costs.

The Group will at some point in the near future come to the congregation to ask if we can help by offering to increase our £20,000 voluntary contribution. This is something that the congregational council might well like to consider. I will not, of course, be your chaplain at this point but I would commend the idea to you.


Midweek services and casual visitors to the Chapel                                                                      Because of the virus the chapel will only be open for our two Sunday morning Eucharists. We regret that we cannot host any midweek groups at present. In the same way because we have no way of knowing if casual visitors  have the virus, and we can’t clean after every visit, nor can we welcome tourists and or other visitors during this time. If approached key holders should apologise and respectfully decline.

What to expect in the Chapel from now on.

Firstly, the chapel will look slightly bare. I have had to clear all books from the bookcases and remove any devotional items, bits of publicity and unnecessary table-top items. Although we initially planned to use plastic chairs in the carpeted area ( so we could wipe them down in between services) we realised that we could simply swap the chairs for new  ones after the 10am thus maintaining a welcome degree of comfort!

Secondly, no one will come round taking a collection during the service.

The collection ‘plate’ will be on the table by the font. There will be no-one going round taking the collection or bringing it up to the altar during the service.

The Bishops, both Anglican and RC, are asking all of us where possible to start using a Standing Order rather than using cash. The reason is that cash then needs to be bagged by a gloved person and left for 72 hours before transfer.

If you can’t change to a standing order, cash is still okay but please, on the first Sunday back, take a number of envelopes away with you so then you can prepare them at home rather than standing in a queue filling them in.

As you can imagine, our chapel income has all but dried up over the last quarter. Bear in mind also that there will now be no income from groups using the chapel as the chapel will only be open on a Sunday morning. In the same way income from tourists and casual visitors has ceased.

Preparing the altar and the sacred vessels for the service

I will bring my own set of vessels etc. and set up for the service so as not involve any servers or sacristans

On arrival

Please Mask– Wearing a mask in the chapel is now compulsory for congregation members. (I do have a few spares in case you forget yours). Those reading the Epistle or leading the intercessions may remove it during that time. Clergy and those leading worship only wear masks when administering communion.

Sanitise. – As you enter please use the sanitising hand gel to be found on the top of the font.

Collection plate – The wooden plate is by the font for those not yet using Standing orders. Please be generous. All churches have taken a massive financial hit because of Lockdown. This is another reason why that the Bishops are urging us all to move to using a Standing Order as soon as possible. Whether you use cash or do things through Standing order, if you are a UK tax payer, please make sure you sign a covenant form.

Go to your assigned seat keeping to the centre of the chapel. 

I have devised a wedding reception style seating plan in order to accommodate as many people as possible so please only sit in the seat assigned to you.  (This will seem horribly school like, but the allocation I’ve devised maximises the number of people we can get in. If a person on their own sits on a pew allocated for a couple then we effectively lose a seat and someone can’t stay)

There is a copy of the seating plans for both services on the wooden screen behind the font.

A SINGLE USE Service sheet will be waiting on your seat.                                                            Please take it away with you at the end.

The Peace.

Obviously, we will not be moving around or physically sharing the peace – but there’s nothing to stop us giving each other a ‘wave’ of peace!

The Administration of Communion.

Because our aisle is so narrow we can’t have people passing each other going up or down from the Altar. Please stay in your places and I will bring communion to you.

As you already know we will be giving communion by bread only.

When I come to give you the bread I will be wearing a mask and I will not say the words “The Body of Christ”. Please do not say Amen or make any spoken response.

At the end of the service

The service will be slightly shorter than normal.

When it is over please leave from the back first.

As you leave, please move well away from the door and wait until you get right outside so you can socially distance before you start to chat and catch up.


If you have any questions, please email me.                                                                                        The Revd Cliff Bowman
Chaplain St MM. Ripon
01765 602863