When I applied for the role of Director of Forward in Faith – can it really have been as long as a year ago? – little did I imagine that, after six weeks of handover and just a month on my own in the role, our nation would be in the midst of a pandemic and that worship and prayer would be largely confined to the home.

Much has already been written on the Church’s response to the pandemic and I do not intend to add to those words in this short piece. Instead, I would like to pay tribute to the imagination and ingenuity of so many in finding new ways to communicate God’s love in these difficult times. We hear much about the ‘new normal’; may the faith we have seen being so freely shared in recent months be a large part of whatever the future brings us.

I have experienced, along with a good proportion of the readers of New Directions I venture, the pain of a sustained and enforced absence from the Eucharist. By the time this edition of New Directions reaches you, I hope that at the very least we shall have a date for the return of public Masses. How joyful that day will be!

Throughout the period of lockdown, Forward in Faith has been doing all it can to support its membership in praying at home. For those with web access, there have been two sets of professional produced videos along with a range of other materials to aid prayer and devotion. For those without, supplementary booklets have been printed and sent out each month with New Directions

Much of this work has been badged as The Society, which is the branding used for the support provided by Forward in Faith to The Society’s Council of Bishops and to those clergy who choose to register with The Society. The Council of Bishops rightly provides the pastoral lead for our movement and this is done through The Society with resources made available by Forward in Faith for this important purpose. 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect of the work of Forward in Faith or The Society, then please do so. My email address is director@forwardinfaith.com and my mobile telephone number is 07368 124811. Over the coming months, we shall be looking at how Forward in Faith can best fulfil its charitable objectives and the membership will, naturally, be given a voice in that process. So please watch this space!

Finally, I would like to record, on behalf of Forward in Faith’s trustees, the charity’s deep gratitude to three members of staff who have provided outstanding service and whose retirements fall during this year: Dr Colin Podmore (my immediate predecessor as Director of Forward in Faith, who retired in February), Alison Shaw (Forward in Faith’s Administrative Assistant, who retires in August), and Colin Shaw (Forward in Faith’s Bookkeeper, who retires in August). Happy retirements, Colin, Alison, and Colin.

Tom Middleton