Fri 21 August 2020
We are delighted to announce that after 9 months of vocational explorations Esther Nyame will be coming to live at Sheldon as a member of the Community at the end of September. Esther originally comes from London, but has worked for a biotech company in Oxford for the last 3 years. We're planning on the basis of one year in the first instance, but with all of us open to the possiblity of longer term settled belonging here. Esther will spend the first 6 months learning the ropes across many areas of Sheldon's ministry as we explore what particular role develops. You might meet her in Reception, helping Jan and Alice with Housekeeping and cleaning, or working in the kitchen with Hillary. Please remember Esther and the rest of the Community in your prayers as we make all our respective preparations. Moving and training is even more complicated when we have to take into account quarantine and social distancing between our community household bubbles.
At the beginning of July we held a Trial Run residential when a dozen volunteers kindly came and acted as guinea pigs for 48 hours. This enabled us to try out our new systems for eating and meeting with all the things we now have to think about to keep everyone as safe as possible. We learned a lot and it built our confidence to enjoy and develop further with volunteers on a delayed-and-different version of workweek. Then since the 14th August we have started back into a steady rhythm of R5 weeks and led retreats alongside the private retreats. Bookings are very brisk and with reduced capacity we have decided to prioritise space for people in ministry for the time being. We have invested ~ £12,000 in new windows for the Long Barn meeting room to get good natural ventilation. We are also looking at portable UVC air sterilisation units, and thinking about more (subtle) infrastructure to have a marquee on the Pound House lawn throughout the summer months. There may be further disruptions through the winter, but we hope we've made Sheldon as resilient as possible to continue our ministry through the months ahead. Autumn programme here and details of our Covid-19 routines here.
Sheldon has been having a major impact on the national scene with our "Project CDM - restoring humanity to clergy discipline". Do read the updates here including links to Radio 4 Sunday interview and Church Times report. Rev Dr Stephen Cherry messaged to say "I feel that you have offered a powerful example of the pastoral and intuitive leading to the empirical and public, which is really simple without ever having been obvious before you did it. That’s so impressive."
The Sheldon Hub continues to play an important role as a space for people in ministry with mutual support and sharing resources. Top conversations these days include navigating the huge practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of church leadership through the pandemic. We expect to pass the 2,000 member milestone before the end of the year.
More community and team news
All the members of Sheldon's staff team were furloughed when lockdown began. The cleaners came back to work in the middle of July and everyone else at the beginning of August. Everyone that is apart from Miranda who many of you will know from reception, phone calls and correspondence. Sadly her role has been made redundant but she and Jim remain Friends of Sheldon and we wish her all the very best after 11 years of service here. Darren already worked mainly from home with his role on the Hub, Rich will be on site one day of his three, and Karen who is our independent bookkeeper is experimenting with working from home on alternate days. We are expecting September to be baby month with Lawrence (estate team) and Anna's daughter due on the 9th, and Andrew and Alice's first grandchild on the 15th. Alice has been knitting in anticipation. Jan continues to sew face masks but with less time for that now housekeeping work has hotted up. Yesterday she went in for a surgical repair on the muscle in her knee that was torn when she fell in March. Gearing up for rehab and physio and no doubt making more masks. We're also hoping Sue will soon be back on the list for her knee replacement which had been scheduled for May. Hillary has some beautiful Manx Loaghtan wool for sale and has been selling lambs and yearling ewes to other breeders.
A big thank you once again to Friends who have continued to support Sheldon so generously through a challenging year. Income from bookings is starting to pick up again but we still forecast a shortfall of well over £100,000 compared with last year. There are also extra costs incurred for managing coronavirus safety. The furlough scheme has helped, plus a business grant from the local authority. The Clergy Support Trust have made a generous grant towards our work with Anglican clergy. More Hub funding has come in from a "Summer of Love the Hub" membership appeal and 3 year development grants from the Mercers' Company and Drapers' Company. We're still being very cautious on all non-essential expenditure across the board, while also exploring some structural adaptations to improve our coronavirus resilience further going forward.
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