New Sawbridgeworth vicar says love is answer to challenge of Covid-19
Covid-19 is not a test of faith for Christians – but Sawbridgeworth’s new vicar says God’s role is in the love people have for their nearest and dearest.
The Rev Simon Vivian was inducted to the Church of Great St Mary’s in Church Street on September 20 after the coronavirus pandemic delayed his arrival due to be at Easter.
“We’ve been in limbo for so long and now we’re here it’s brilliant,” said Father Simon, a 49-year-old married father of two.
He admitted Covid-19 presented issues with regard to the relationship between the church and its congregation.
“It’s a challenge for everybody because we’re nowhere near the end of this Covid journey,” he said.
“We’re seeing it as an opportunity. We can hold services for as many people that turn up, as long as it’s socially distanced and secure.”
After initially not being able to offer communion, the church was now able to offer it, but of only one kind.
Fr Simon said that services were being streamed over the internet, which was particularly helpful for people who were shielding.
He paid tribute to church reader Di Kitson and associate minister the Rev Debbie Hoare, who he said had done “sterling work”.
“Everybody has been working full throttle and they’ve stepped up to the challenge massively.”
Because Fr Simon believed the Covid-19 pandemic was "man-made" he said it was not a test of faith for Christians.
“Where I see God in the equation is in the love that people have for their nearest and dearest,” he said, also stressing the importance of God’s role in the grieving process.
Mental health was a major issue during the crisis, he added.
“There’s a sense we need to find a greater strength within ourselves to combat mental health,” he said. “That mental health issue is going to be the brunt of people’s health for years to come.”
Fr Simon refuted suggestions that young people’s lack of adherence to Government restrictions had led to the current spike in cases.
“I don’t blame the youth of today. For many they were all only playing by the rules the Government set – opportunities to socialise were out there.”
He said that everybody could find themselves forgetting the rules and that wasn’t surprising.
Having moved to Sawbridgeworth from his former church in Berkhamsted with wife Charlotte and son and daughter in July, Fr Simon was aware of the way the community had rallied round.
He said the church’s teaching was “be there for your neighbour when they need it”, adding: “It’s that lovely simple stuff that we can do.”
The church was part of the community and the two were intrinsically linked. “We are a community, both the town and the church, and I think it’s important we all move as one,” he said.