A note from Rev Mark Bodeker regarding Sunday Services and Special Services (Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals) - UPDATED

We are living through the most difficult of times. On Tuesday afternoon (17th March) the Archbishops announced that, following government advice, “public worship will have to stop for a season. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other midweek gatherings must be put on hold”. As GWP Church use the UTC College as our place of worship and, additionally, the announcement has been made to close schools as from Friday, we will not now be meeting at the College.

Given the scale of the global pandemic, the risks to public health and the advice from government this is the only possible course of action. All of us will need to follow it.

This past Monday The Prime Minister added further restriction, stopping all from attending churches. As such all services are now suspended. This includes weddings, baptisms and funerals (although there is still provision fro funerals to be held at crematoriums or outside.  

I’m sure this has been painful and difficult news to receive. Or every instinct is to draw together in worship and fellowship, to comfort one another and reach out to others. However we can’t, and we must remain physically distanced. For most this will mean a period of isolation, for our own protection and for the sake of our families.

We do not know how long this situation will continue but an initial time frame of at least three months seems likely and it may well be longer. It is all deeply painful.

We should expect that many people, including ourselves, will be in shock over the next few days at the speed of the escalation of the crisis, the economic difficulties, the changes to familiar patterns and the loss of being together to worship. We will all cope with this in different way. Some will simple accept it and adjust. Others will find it difficult to accept and look for ways round. Some will want to help, some will simply withdraw. We must accept all these responses as normal and do our best in our own ways to help each other.

We are in this together

One of the deep foundations of Christian faith is that it is not good for humankind to be alone. We are made for love and community by a God who is love.

The most important message for all of us at this time of necessary distancing is that we are not alone. God is with us as we pray by ourselves and in families. There are many different ways in which we can connect with each other through technology. We will need to make full use of them and find new patterns of prayer, worship, pastoral care and fellowship for as long as it takes.

I will be praying Morning Prayer each morning at 9 am (with the exceptions of Wednesdays which I take as a day off). Each Wednesday we will be emailing a simple 'thought' to reflect on, some prayers and things you can do together with children. Each Sunday we are also preparing a simple service which you can follow. It will be similar to that offered during the week but will include a song and music which you can view on YouTube. Singing together may seem a bit strange but I recommend that you try. These are unappreciated times. We are all learning new things.  If you would like to receive these regular emails, then please contact me directly (contact details below). Although we are not able to meet together in the normal way as congregations, we are bound together through the ministry of the word and the prayers, by our common baptism and by bonds of Christian love.

As such GWP church remains open; we continue to have faith; public worship may be suspended, but the life of God’s kingdom is inextinguishable.

Getting in contact with me

I’m here, so please contact me if you need support, prayer or just to talk. My mobile number is 07970 111110 and email address is markbodeker@gwpchurch.org.uk

What can you do to help

This is a time where we need to care for each other. Consider those around us who might need reassurance or help. Ask them whether there is anything that you can help them with.

GWP Residents' Association have set up a page and group to support people at this time:

https://www.gwpra.org.uk/covid19support?fbclid=IwAR3C-Fnqz6QSqO5awkkivFhMwJcL4M1r4eYt5-xyHQ-UWLGFzRqS5Q4yQ5c There are instructions here on how to join the group of volunteers who are supporting the vulnerable at this time. SOFEA are also fundraising to support their extension of the Community Larder scheme in Didcot to those who are struggling at the moment, free of charge. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sofeacommunitylarder GPW Church is supporting these initiatives and will help practically in any way it can.

We can all get involved.

Easter Services (including Easter Celebration) 

As per the information above these will now not take place.

We will however email a service of reflection 'At the Foot of the Cross' for Good Friday (3 pm) to join in with as well as for Easter Sunday which will be an all-age celebration at 11 am with Holy Communion. I hope to be able to record the Eucharist Prayer, technology permitting, and include this in the material to be emailed to you.  Please keep checking your emails.

Some other practical things regarding special services

All advice on this has changed and we can no long offer weddings, baptisms or funerals. I have already been in contact with those who have already booked All Saints' Church to rearrange these.

If things change

Inevitably information and advice will be updated. I will endeavour to get this to you just as soon as I have it.

In the meantime I would encourage you to look after yourselves and others and follow guidance.

Many thanks for reading through this far.

We wait in hope for the Lord ; he is our help and our shield. 

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord , even as we put our hope in you.

Psalms 33:20-22

With our love and prayers,


Updated 26th March 2020

Church Address
Great Western Park Church
UTC College Café, Greenwood Way
Harwell, Didcot
Oxfordshire OX11 0DL
The Vicarage
The Vicarage
1 Holly Lane, Didcot
Oxfordshire OX11 6DA