Minister’s Update – 22nd March 20 – Pandemic

Dear Members and Friends of Godalming Unitarians
With our Chapel closed for the time being, you remain in my thoughts as we enter this period of uncharted territory; whether you are self-isolating, social distancing, caring for loved ones, parents dealing with school closures, working from home, or one of the front line workers still serving the needs of the community, I hope this finds you in reasonable spirits as we navigate these strange and challenging times. I want to update you on how our plans for staying in community at a distance, are unfolding.
Pastoral support: I’ve been liaising with Chapel trustees to ensure support is in place for Chapel members and regular attenders – by informally linking people already in contact with one another and linking up people via special interest groups (i.e. book group, meditation). We hope that each person who wants it, will have ongoing contact with others from the Chapel community – whether by email, facebook, whats app, other online media, telephone – or snail mail! If we’ve inadvertently left anyone off our list, my apologies – if you feel in need of support please be in touch. I will try to respond to emails and phone messages as quickly as possible, but please bear with me, as I’ll need to prioritise. You can also reach the Chapel trustees via office@unitariangodalming,
Mid-week groups: Rob and I plan to sit in meditation each Wednesday between 7.30 – 8pm and have invited our regular meditators to join us from the comfort of their own homes. We’ll aim to email round a guided meditation each week, which people can follow as they wish. If you’re not one of our regular meditators, but feel this is something you’d like to try, please contact Rob on
Whilst not a Unitarian group, on Thursdays the Healers who usually meet in the Chapel will be continuing to send out distant healing and prayer to those in need. If you or someone you know would like to be included on their list, please send this request onto Rob (email above). All are welcome to join the healers between 2.30-3pm on Thursdays, lighting a candle and holding people in our community within our extended circle of concern.
Sunday services: We hope in time we may be able to offer live services via online platforms, or upload podcasts on our website. I’m behind the curve when it comes to social media and online communications, so please bear with me as I try to get up to speed! In the short-term, each Saturday, along with any updates, I hope to send round an attachment by email – including a Sunday service (prepared by me or others). Rob and I aim to read through the service in real time starting at 11am on Sunday. You are invited to join us from home – perhaps lighting a candle, reading the words aloud, singing the hymns and holding a time of silence. Please find this Sunday’s offering –  Nicola Young service for Mothering Sunday 2020 (adapted for reading at home)
You may prefer to find other ways of linking in with Unitarian worship online. Some of our congregations are already offering live streamed services; information can be found on the Uk Unitarians public facebook page (you don’t have to be signed up to facebook to view it) and Kensington Unitarians have podcasts of services stretching back several years, which can be accessed at
 Many of you will be feeling understandably anxious and uncertain in these times, but already we find springing up the seeds of good-will and neighbourliness, as we find different ways to reach out to each other. I leave you with some words by Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar – Unitarian Universalist minister:

Pandemic – written on 16/3/2020

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

In faith & hope ….”and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his/hers hands”
Rev. Sheena Gabriel