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COVID-19 update: 07 January 2021

As we start 2021, we wanted to provide an additional update as to what life at Holmsted Manor is like at this point. 

2020 brought a lot of new challenges. All of us have adapted to new vocabulary - social-distancing, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘lockdown’ are words we use now without thinking. Living life looks different; shopping apps, face masks, warning tape on the floor.

We start this year, here in the U.K., under lockdown. Restrictions have been communicated by the government in order to slow down the rate of infection and to minimise the risk of overloading our hospitals.. All kinds of shops and facilities are shut, opportunities to meet up with friends have been curtailed and only essential travel is now permitted. Schools, from nurseries to universities have now moved to online learning

As with any community, we're made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences and we face this new scenario together, working hard to apply restrictions to our community so we can ensure we are complying and are as safe and healthy as we can be. The reality for us here, is that we, like the rest of the population are working things out as we go.

We continue to identify as one household, allowing us some freedom to meet, eat and socialise as a community.

So this is where we are, as of Thursday 7 January.

Back in March 2020, we designated a team to help us apply the government guidelines faithfully to our unique setting. The team met yesterday to discuss the implications of the new restrictions for YWAM Holmsted Manor, as a result of the lockdown announced on 4 January 2021.

As a result, there are a number of things we have had to consider and address. They are as follows.

  • We cannot currently open for hospitality, as we continue to operate as a single household.
  • We are limiting our trips away from Holmsted Manor for essential reasons only - mainly food shopping and continuing our involvement with local ministries and churches, which are able to continue in some form; with reduced numbers, charity and voluntary work can continue during lockdown.
  • We are happy to receive returning staff, some of whom who’ve been in their home countries renewing visas or who had planned to arrive in the new year, as they are moving house - a concession permitted under the lockdown restrictions.
  • We are also happy to welcome new trainees to our DTS starting at the end of January, as they too are moving house to join our community. We will not be receiving visiting speakers for this DTS for the first several weeks, we are thankful that we have enough current staff members who are experienced missionaries and more than able to offer input to our DTS. When the government reviews the lockdown restrictions in mid-February, we’ll look then at whether we can safely invite external speakers to come to our location.
  • At Holmsted Manor, we have produced a flow chart outlining responses to COVID-related situations, so we can respond quickly and appropriately should someone demonstrate symptoms or comes into contact with someone who has shown symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus.

At the start of December last year, one of us tested positive for coronavirus which led to self-isolation for them and for the rest of the community. Because of our previously thought through protocols, we were able to minimise the spread of the virus.

It’s inconvenient and frustrating. But the best we can do is be as thorough as we can in our approach to what is going on around us, so that we can love our neighbour and protect the NHS.

Our aim is to do as much as we can, and be as safe as we can.

We are so grateful to be able to continue to eat, work, worship and pray together.

As we move into 2021, I would love to encourage you to stay safe, be cautious, be mindful of those who are vulnerable or fearful, and for those of us who share the Christian faith, remember that the God we trust in and serve is the same yesterday, today and forever.

While our circumstances change and emotions go up and down, there is peace and calm to be found in Him.

Wherever you are, whatever your situation, don’t despair.

I’m confident things will change.
(I’ve no idea how!)

Sometimes change is due to external factors, but sometimes change is found in adapting to new settings. 

There is a prayer that is attributed to St Francis of Assisi (although probably not written by him!) whose words are both challenging and reassuring:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.