As the Coronavirus crisis stretches on, churches throughout the United Reformed Church continue to forge innovative new ways of maintaining worship, mission and community. The latest postings on the URC website include the example of Christ Church in Petts Wood (Southern Synod):
In our own Synod, too, many of us have been prompted by the lockdown to discover inspiring new ways to be church. To give just one case study, the following news from Newport Pagnell URC comes from its Minister, the Revd Jenny Mills.
If you would like to tell others the latest from your own church, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be delighted to share your stories.
A report from Newport Pagnell URC.
We have been unable to physically meet as a congregation since mid-March. We have been recording worship and sending it out, posting written copies and posting it on our YouTube channel (URC Newport Pagnell) each week and one of our Elders has set up a post-service Zoom coffee time. We are fortunate that a young man with great technical expertise has returned home and is able to edit our offerings so worship includes a variety of folk and talents.
We have also set up online Coffee and Chat (one in an afternoon and one in an evening), a Children's Zoom and a Bible Study. We have also set up systems to ensure everyone in our congregation gets a call or some contact regularly. Each Sunday we deliver the transcript of worship to the seven people unable to access anything online and this week we are including biscuits in that offering and will have a different member of the pastoral team call them up for coffee and chat on Sunday.
We are part of the NP Covid-19 Response Group supporting people in the town and ensuring help is at hand. The team was brought together by an initial meeting in our church just before total lockdown. It involves representatives from the five women who originally came up with the idea of a group for the town, the Town Council, the medical centres, the churches, and local volunteer groups. Each street in Newport Pagnell has a volunteer who will shop, deal with concerns about prescriptions, and they have become a contact for those struggling.
As churches (with Churches Together in Newport Pagnell) we have helped to fund craft packs for children via local schools and myself and the Baptist minister distributed 200 of them so they can be given out to those who most need them; whilst there we 'blessed' the teachers with cake and fruit!
We are aware that churches are well placed to support those doing the caring and we have offered a reflective poster to encourage the staff to good self-care and offered a listening ear too. We are in contact with the local hospital chaplain (of “Ross Kemp at MKUH” fame) and she shared this document with us, which we personalised to Newport Pagnell.
As a group the Covid-19 team have also set up a scheme where people can support local takeaways by buying a gift of a meal for a friend or someone who has helped them and passing it forward by using an unique code. It is also possible to gift a meal to a vulnerable person via the group itself and they will pass it on. We are part of the weekly foodbank collection: the church is in the centre of town and so we are well placed and each week we take an average of two carloads (as well as creating emergency food packs for people during weekends when the foodbank is closed).
The most innovative thing we have as a church community for our members is: The Great Newport Pagnell Zoom Bake Off. The idea came from our Church Treasurer (she had done a family Bake Off) and the theme was 'Things we like to do but cannot at the moment'. The teams met on Zoom and were given their instructions and then went away and baked and created and met up at the end for judging! Winners were Afternoon Tea, Sub Aqua Diving and Karate Club. Other entries were Travelling, Morris Dancing, Rock Choir, Visiting Family, Singing and Caravanning. The only downside was we could not taste each other’s creations, but we hear that many neighbours and friends were gifted cake that day!