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Views from the Vicarage...

What did we learn during lockdown ?

This month marks two years since the UK’s first Covid lockdown. Churches closed their doors for worship as infection levels, hospital admissions and, tragically, deaths rose. Even today, some worshippers are reluctant to return to ‘in person’ worship, and churches are still taking care to limit Covid risks. What did we learn in the 24 months since the pandemic became part of our everyday lives? I have picked out four learning points:

Churches built stronger links with their local communities. Church services may have been suspended, or moved online, but many churches set up networks of support for people within their congregations and across their areas. Churches supported or set up ways of helping the most vulnerable in their communities, and many churchgoers volunteered to help local caring charities and, later, at vaccination centres.

Churches reached new people by going online.  Overnight, many churches threw open their doors to people on their doorstep, and further afield. Suddenly, distance did not matter – and people were ‘attending’ online services at churches around the world. Worshippers with disabilities welcomed the online services – and gently asked why it had taken the wider Church so long to acknowledge their needs.

Churchgoers learnt to be grateful for all the things they had taken for granted. Suddenly, singing hymns together, receiving communion with bread and wine, and responding to a sermon together, all became a memory from an earlier time. We realised how much we needed each other and appreciated each other’s fellowship and presence. Home-based fellowship groups, now online, thrived at many churches. Remember the ‘Zoom’ quizzes?

Churches chose their priorities. During lockdown, many churches asked themselves, what really matters? What are our priorities now? Disputes around issues of church governance or practices were put on the back-burner and congregations focussed on providing services of worship and supporting those in need.

These are just my ‘top four’ suggestions – and of course they will not apply to all churches. Perhaps I have painted too rosy a picture? Why not ask yourself, what your church learnt during lockdown – and how far those lessons could help you plan for the future?

Your Friend and Vicar

Canon Phillip