Just a thought...
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Perinews, I am struck by words of the Vicar of Pirbright, which he penned for his first Newsletter fifty years ago this month. It seems that the Newsletter was initially set up as a means to bring people together, as Reverend Cunningham encouraged villagers to ‘belong’ and not to ‘shut themselves away in their little gardens’ or ‘within the small group who happens to be their friends’. In the welcome, he said that loneliness was one of the tragedies of the age. Fifty years later, loneliness remains a tragedy of our time, not so much due to the ‘new found amenities of life’ mentioned by him, but mostly due to family members moving away.
It seems that the Newsletter was developed to encourage a sense of belonging, of gathering around a common purpose, with each person playing their part to help to overcome the loneliness of village life. Fifty years on, looking back, it seems that he may have achieved that goal. Pirbright remains a picturesque ‘protected’ village, and the sense of belonging is palpable. Fast forward to October 2020, following several months of being shut away in our homes, with or without family, people were gradually emerging from the externally imposed loneliness.
However, as a result of the recent upward trend in Covid-19 infections in hotspots across the UK, new Government rules forbid social gatherings of more than six people at any one time. This global pandemic challenges our very sense of ‘belonging’. It forces us to rethink our core values, as well as what it means to live alongside people as if we didn’t belong, socially distanced two metres apart, and wearing masks, even in church. Much has changed over the years, yet things have remained constant. Reverend Cunningham said that ‘it is up to us to preserve that
which is of value to us’. Over the years, you, the people of Pirbright village have done just that, preserving the Newsletter and continuing to build community. I believe that you are held by the love of God expressed in the mission of the church, which still stands today as a beacon of light, love and acceptance where all continue to be welcomed.
I wonder what Reverend Cunningham would make of it all.
Rev Bev Hunt, October 2020