The lockdown has had lots of negative impacts on the Parish Churches. Public worship has been closed down, the church buildings are locked and all our baptisms and weddings are postponed. Funerals can only happen in the churchyard or at crematoriums, and with very restricted numbers of mourners. Our capacity to make decisions is reduced because the Annual Parochial Church Meetings (APCMs) and Parochial Church Council (PCC) meetings are all postponed. We had to cancel our Mission Planning day on 4th April and the follow up on 16th May. With no Sunday collections in church, our income is also down, and our financial reserves have been reduced by the fall in the stock market.
But it is not all bad news! Suddenly we have online services! This has been a huge learning curve for me personally, but I been very fortunate to have my daughter Caroline in lockdown at the Rectory to help me with the technical aspects. She also takes care of the filming and receives Holy Communion at Communion services.
I know that online services do not work for all members of our congregation. But I am also aware that some people may take part in an online service, but won’t come to church! Online services are very convenient for visitors. I received an email from someone near Worcester saying he had appreciated a service. Also, the timing is so convenient! Some people prefer to worship at 8.30am, some at 9.45am and some at 11am, but with an online service you can choose. You can even catch up later in the week if you missed on Sunday!
I have now introduced a weekly email to parishioners. If you would like to receive this please let me know by email to email@example.com. In April we introduced a virtual “coffee after the service” at 11am on Sunday mornings. This takes place on Zoom. We have a parishioner in lockdown in Padstow and it is interesting that she can watch the service and join in with the coffee on Zoom.
The lockdown has also brought about a greater integration between the congregations at Lapworth and Baddesley Clinton, who, for the time being, must share services together. The congregations also meet each other at virtual coffee. I also think that we have all got better at phoning each other up to keep in touch, and this is a great blessing.
So the lockdown has brought good things as well as bad things. I am wondering which changes will remain, and which will be rewound as soon as the situation allows. Who knows?
With prayers and best wishes, Fr Patrick
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
Amen. From the CofE resource “Prayers for use during the coronavirus outbreak”.