Sheldon Lockdown Life
Fri 24 April 2020
Peace and quiet may be the 'commodity' of a retreat house, but with no guests and no staff these lockdown days are quiet even by our standards. We've been sharing something of the place with daily pictures on our social media channels for so many of you who would love to be here but cannot - do follow and share if you would like a little daily dose of Sheldon. Twitter | Instagram | Facebook. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch with messages of support, prayer requests and gifts - it means a lot.
Jan celebrated lockdown with a flying leap that resulted in a nasty knee injury. She was very grateful to have temporary residence in Tamworth Pig Pen plus a personalised 'care package' from fellow community members, and rapid installation of new handrails for stairs up to her flat. She's pleased to back in her own residence now and getting more mobile, but it will be a while before she's skipping about again like the lambs. Speaking of which, Hillary says it's been one of the best ever years for lambing and their antics feature heavily on our social media. We're also enjoying working in the veg garden both for ourselves and to be feeding guests when we can open our doors again.
When we re-open it will probably be for private retreats first and we are maintaining preparedness for as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, including Hillary cooking for the larder-stock freezers. We appreciate that the coming months will hold a lot of uncertainty so we've reduced deposit from £50 to £20 and balance due 2 weeks instead of 2 months in advance. We initially cancelled all bookings until 20th June and a lot of our office time has been contacting people, arranging refunds, etc. We've also started offering 1:1 sessions by phone/Zoom/Skype. Our impression is that it was a mad scramble for many in ministry to respond pastorally to the suddenness of lockdown and find creative ways of celebrating Easter and it's now people are starting to turn to us. In the meantime the online Sheldon Hub www.sheldonhub.org is providing valuable space for people in ministry to share everything from Anxiety to Zoom (other letters of the alphabet are available). We can see how helpful it is to share the the immense challenges with people in different boats in the same storm. Darren continues working on collating and curating Hub Forum Threads and Resources, and Andrew has been learning the technicalities and sharing that work.
Our trustees have met by Zoom, approved the 2019 report and accounts, and started to wrap their thoughts around financial implications of the pandemic. We've cut out all non-essential expenditure immediately and are learning to live with trust and pragmatism in a world with many of the old (perceived) certainties stripped away. We don't have immediate financial cash flow issues but, like most retreat houses, we live on very narrow margins. We know bookings may be slow to return and there are Friends who will need to cancel standing orders as their circumstances change. So maintaining or increasing giving by standing order to help Sheldon's future sustainability is the most valuable response for those who are able.
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Sarah and Carl have been continuing the campaign for replacement of the Anglican Clergy Discipline Measure, and are currently preparing data from the academic research to go to the College of Bishops next month. Our hope and prayer is that they will commit to a full replacement of the deeply flawed Measure and start to focus on building a national, independent professional standards framework fit for 21st century ministry. From where we started the project 3 years ago it is an extraordinary success that this is even on the agenda.
All the Community are feeling the pain of separation during the weeks while Alice is living back in Exeter and nursing. We are finding ways of keeping in touch and hoping to be back together before too long. Those still at Sheldon have adopted a new rhythm working Monday to Friday and taking weekends off (a real treat!) We continue to say Morning Prayers at 8am and this week have moved our evening prayers and intercessions back to 5pm. Just before Easter we sent an email to those on our ministry mailing list, and dozens of people replied with prayer requests. Please do keep them coming so we can pray for you as you pray for us.
For lots of daily pictures, news and frolics, take a look at our social media channels
And we'll keep this page Sheldon bookings updated when we start making plans for re-opening.