Pictured is Neil outside St Andrew's church in Rippingale. You can share the journey with Neil via the Aveland Group of Churches Facebook page here.

Prior to lockdown it had always been the intention of worshippers in the Ringstone in Aveland group of parishes (just north of Bourne in the south of the county) to ‘Beat the Bounds’ and to mark Rogation Day by visiting all the churches in the group.

There are five in total -  St John the Baptist in Morton; St Andrew in Haconby; All Saints in Dunsby; St Andrew in Rippingale and St Mary and All Saints in Kirkby Underwood. A round trip of approximately ten miles.

Thinking cap on, the Revd Neil Bullen, Rector of the Ringstone group, decided to do a ‘virtual’ tour using his mobile phone. Starting in Morton, where he lives, you join Neil as passenger in the front seat as he drives to each destination through the lovely countryside whilst listening to hymns.

At each stop there is a pause and a prayer is read by someone from that church thanking God for all we have and for those who are working hard and in difficult circumstances during the pandemic.  Those giving prayers are Dianne Newton, Churchwarden for St John the Baptist church in Morton (her little dog Annie also has a cameo role); Wendy Sharman, Lay Minister, for St Andrew in Haconby; Philippa Vereker, Churchwarden for All Saints in Dunsby; Jonathan Newell, Churchwarden for St Andrew in Rippingale and Anthony Andrews, Lay Minister for St Mary and All Saints in Kirkby Underwood.

Revd Neil said: “We had all been looking forward to our ‘Beat the Bounds’ day out and it was a disappointment to not to be able to do it together but I thought that we could all share the experience, if only virtually!  Technology has been a blessing for our group. Whilst it is true to say that using this technology has been a challenge and a struggle for many of our parishioners (getting to grips with Facebook, YouTube, Teams, Zoom and others), many have been determined to do so in order to worship together and to conduct the business of the church. This has been both heart-warming and humbling.

“A member of each church was invited to write and record a prayer and then I edited all the films together and added in the hymns. We invited our parishioners to watch the video and join in with the prayers and hymns and we also advertised this more widely on our Facebook page and You Tube channel.  People have said how much they enjoyed it so I am very pleased that we could achieve our celebration of Rogation Day even in lockdown.” 

Carole Martin lives in Morton has been made to feel very welcome in the Ringstone Group during lockdown. She usually worships in the nearby Uffington Group owing to a family connection.  She said: “Everyone in the Ringstone Group has made me feel very welcome over these last eight weeks and I have really enjoyed joining in the services when I can.

“Revd Neil has really embraced these challenging times, offering a daily participative online service in the morning, a Sunday Eucharist and some different and unusual other services such as the Rogation Day drive around the parish which was wonderful. The use of technology has certainly allowed us to appeal to a wider congregation and allowed Christians from all over to come together to have fellowship and worship together.

“I really enjoyed the Rogation Day virtual tour as did a great number of villagers. It was such an unusual experience. I have some elderly neighbours, who, due to continued shielding in lockdown had not ventured out to the villages for eight weeks and were so moved by the video that some were in tears to see the glorious countryside.  We feel blessed that the ‘Church’ has been brought to us in this way.” 

This story was posted on Tuesday 19th May 2020.