During the Coronaviris Pandemic churches across Chelmsford Diocese are finding new ways to bless our communities. Many of those who will be worst impacted by Coronavirus are the people that our churches provide most support to.
Resources and ideas of how churches are finding new ways to support their local communities can be found at www.chelmsford.anglican.org/church-is-changing.
Stories and best practice can be found below
Please get in touch and let us know what your church is doing to bless your community.
Stories and best practice
Over the coming weeks, we want to fill this section with stories and best practice about Churches supporting their communities. Please send your stories to email@example.com
St Margaret’s with St Columba, Leytonstone- Church pop-up shop supporting the community
St Margaret with St Columba in Leytonstone is helping to serve its local community during the Coronavirus pandemic through its weekly pop-up shop. The shop is helping people who do not have access to food due to the impact of the virus.
The church has implemented strict protocols regarding hand sanitation and social spacing for visitors. They also provide a delivery service for those who are self-isolating. At the time of writing, Revd Neil Allan-Walsh and his team of volunteers are planning to offer pre-prepared food hampers in the coming weeks. This will enable the church to continue to serve its community safely and for as long as possible throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Pop-up shop was featured on BBC London news – watch the video here (please notice this was filmed prior to tighter government restrictions relating to the Coronavirus outbreak came into force).
Ascension Church Victoria Dock – Live streaming, foodbank and supporting workers at the NHS Nightingale Hospital.
Like many churches across Chelmsford Diocese, Ascension Church Victoria Dock has been helping their congregations remain connected - both spiritually and socially. Ascension has been exploring new ways to reach and communicate with their congregation whilst Church buildings are closed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Ascension has been contacting people and sending out notices by phone, text and email, and started a WhatsApp group so members can stay in touch with their vicar and each other. Vicar, Revd Dave Chesney, has been live streaming morning and evening prayer on Facebook.
The church has joined a Covid-19 mutual aid group and has started a foodbank, working with the council.
The new NHS Nightingale temporary hospital is also within the parish. The church has been sending chocolates, biscuits and other treats, as well as cards with messages from church members, to hotels where the temporary hospital workers are staying to let them know they’re being thought of and prayed for.
Ascension church was featured in the Newham Recorder – read the article here.
St Andrews Walthamstow – Telephone conferencing
To help those not on social media or the internet, St Andrew’s Church, Walthamstow have set up telephone conferencing on Sundays where people can listen in and participate. The church has found this is easy for the elderly and vulnerable to join in and have a Sunday service with the congregation and not be isolated.
There are several providers are available (set up is initially online) which provide a phone number, conference room number and PIN number to get started.
The Parish of Langdon Hills – Virtual Coffee Morning
The parish of Langdon Hills hosted a virtual coffee morning on a Whatsapp group in aid of St Luke's Hospice and the Children’s Society. People joined in by sharing their pictures and comments to the group whilst enjoying a cuppa and a slice of cake (virtually) together.
Thanking everyone involved in the event, the Rector of Langdon Hills parish, Revd Colin Hopkinson wrote:
“As well as raising vital funds in difficult times for these excellent charities, this event brought people together in fellowship and mutual encouragement (and cake) at a time when we most need to know that we are there for one another. Thank you to all involved"
The parish are planning a virtual flower festival to raise funds for the NHS on 26 April. Participants are asked to share images, photos or videos of the great outdoors and to make a donation. More information can be found here.
Holy Trinity, Rayleigh
As well as broadcasting Morning Prayer and Sunday Services on Youtube, Holy Trinity Church, Rayleigh has worked with Rochford District Council to establish a Pastoral Phone Ringing team for the ’Shielded’ clients in the community, and also The Community Response Hub helpline has been to set up to support those who have no local family support. The Hub, made up from volunteers throughout the area, can offer help with practical tasks such as shopping or lend a listening ear to those who feel isolated.
The church has also set up a Buddy System. Everyone in the Church is being rung by a team of Phone Buddies made up of other members of the church so that everyone stays in contact.
Team Rector Revd David Oxtoby is also posting a simple weekly memorial service on YouTube. The service names loved ones in the local community, and beyond who have sadly passed away. Names and photographs are given David and included in the service. It is an opportunity for family and friends to come together virtually to remember their loved ones and say final goodbyes if they haven’t been able to do so because of lock-down restrictions.
On Thursday evenings at 8pm the nation comes together to clap for the NHS. To show support, Holy Trinity Church is illuminated blue on Thursday nights.
To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boxes of Hope – a partnership with Harlow churches and the Red Balloon Foundation.
The Red Balloon Partnership is working with Harlow churches through the Harlow Make Lunch project to provide ‘Boxes of Hope’. A variety of boxes will be delivered direct to the doors of local families in need and local NHS or care worker families. There are four types of boxes that can be ordered or which people can purchase and gift to another family:
- Homebox- contains themed activities for families with children aged 4-10 year old to explore together and for children to be able to enjoy independently. The activities are great home schooling ideas.
- Homebox PLUS – contains everything included in the Homebox plus groceries and toiletries for a family.
- Lunch box – contains key ingredients to create a meal for a family to enjoy together and a recipe card to allow them make the meal again together in the future.
- FamilyBox – contains family worship resources so that families can encounter God in a fun, creative and age appropriate way throughout the week.
With the help of local agencies, including Rainbow Services and the Harlow Art Trust, there are plans to expand the ‘Boxes of Hope’ scheme to offer an Art Project Box and a Grow Box containing seeds and plants.
Revd Jokey Poytnz, Team Vicar St Mary's Little Parndon and Harlow Deanery Missioner said:
“I am delighted to have the support of Transform Lives for Good and a local computer company Hardsoft who have funded the transformation of our Holiday Lunch Clubs into a Boxes of Hope scheme which can offer free boxes containing groceries and useful home schooling resources to support those in need, and local NHS and care workers’ families. It is wonderful to be able to work with the Red Balloon Foundation to make this happen.
“We also have a band of local volunteers who help deliver the boxes and we are part of the wonderful consortium of agencies coordinated by Rainbow Services which is helping Harlow people in all sorts of ways. Working with Rainbow services we are excited by plans to expand the variety of boxes available.
“We hope that churches and others in the community will order boxes and gift them to those in need.”
Online School Assemblies
Revd Gill Morgan, Team Vicar in the North Hinckford Benefice has been publishing school assemblies on YouTube.
Prior to lockdown Revd Gill had been visiting a school in one of her parishes and had been taking them, step by step, through the Eucharist service. Gill decided to make the assemblies available online so they children can continue with the learning from home.
The videos introduce the creed and look at 'We believe in God the Father', ‘We believe in Jesus Christ/God the Son and 'We believe in the Holy Spirit/God the Holy Spirit'.
All the assemblies are accessible everyone and can be watched on Gill’s YouTube Channel. Subscribe to a channel to be notified when there is a new video is available.
St Edmund, Chingford - Zoom services
Like many St Edmund, Chingford has been finding new ways to worship and support our community. The church has being hosting services via Zoom and they have been a great success. Those unable to take part visually, join in from their phones, so most of the congregation are able to participate, leading readings and prayers. The virtual coffee morning after the service, is a great opportunity for the congregation to chat to their friends, as well as ’see’ them.
Those unable to join have hard copies sent to them so that they can still feel part of the worship. The current lockdown has also meant members who usually work on Sundays have been able to join in.
Revd Lesley Goldsmith, Vicar at St Edmund’s Chingford said:
“I know many churches are doing similar things, but for us an unexpected part of all this has been family members of the congregation joining us from far and wide, so far, Brighton, Grenada, and Uganda, and it is wonderful being invited into everyone’s home each week.”
Church of the Good Shepherd, Collier Row – Love Your Neighbour
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Church of the Good Shepherd in Collier Row, Romford has set up ‘Love Your Neighbour' and is encouraging everyone in their church family to support those in need in their community, including key workers and staff at our local hospitals.
As part of the Love Your Neighbour initiative the church is providing snack bags for Nurses at Queen’s Hospital. The congregation has been donating items such as bottled water, crisps, fresh fruit, snack bars and pot noodles which are put together in packs with a note from the church thanking the nurses for the work they are doing and offering practical, emotional and spiritual support. The church is providing around 150 snack bags per week.
Members of the congregation are also sewing scrubs for nurses at St George’s and Queen’s Hospital as well as making and delivering meals to the local care home and ambulance crews.
Finally, the Church has also been working with a local Indian takeaway to provide free takeaway meals for venerable and self-isolating people in the local community.
People can contact the church if they would like to volunteer or if they need support.
Find out more at www.thegoodshepherd.co.uk/loveyourneighbour.
The Living Way
With support from our Diocesan Youth Advisers, a group of young people (aged 11 years old upwards) from across the Diocese, are working together to design and experience a shared Rule of Life, called "Living Way".
At the moment, the young people take turns in leading a weekly meeting on Zoom which focusses on one of the four principles of the Rule. The meeting provides the opportunity to share thoughts, reflections and to pray. The young people are also taking a lead in curating our brand new Instagram account.
One of the principles of the Living Way is “Living Together” – it is intrinsically inclusive. Everyone is welcome – whether one off or for the long run, and from any walk of life. If you know a young person who may be interested in joining us on this journey, please email Dot Salmon.
Christchurch Three Mills - Storytime Live
Christchurch Three Mills is a pioneer Christian community in Stratford, East London. Only established in September, lockdown has been a way of life for much of their early ministry. During that time, family engagement has been a key focus. One of their projects ‘Families Growing Together’ uses Facebook and Instagram to reach out to local families.
Each week, they post to Facebook and Instagram an idea for a craft activity families can do together at home and some questions they could ask each other which relate to bible and discipleship content for that week. They also use Facebook to host Storytime Live on Sunday afternoons where the Revd Daniel Scott and his family tell a bible story with their own children aged 1 and 4. Storytime Live has proved popular with churched families and others in the wider community. You can find out more about Christchurch Three Mills and the Families Growing Together project on their Facebook Page - www.facebook.com/christchurchthreemills.
Citizens Essex - digital training alleviates isolation and loneliness
Citizens Essex, a partner organisation of the Diocese of Chelmsford, has been working with the University of Essex to link up “tech champions” with elderly people, to help them get online.
At the beginning of lockdown, digital isolation was identified as a key factor at a Citizens Essex “rapid listening” meeting on zoom.
Community organiser at The University of Essex in Colchester, Juliet Kilpin, brought together local church leaders, led by the Methodist Circuit, and the volunteer service of the Students’ Union at the university. The team of 11 volunteers began equipping around 30 elderly “trainees” with basic guides to using Zoom so that they can see their friends and family online and alleviate some of the loneliness and isolation felt since lockdown started.
The University volunteers also offer help with internet access and email usage. IT equipment has also been distributed, if needed.
One church has since held social meeting via Zoom, where 5 novice “Zoomers” took part with others more experienced and they have also held a virtual bible study group, where 25 people took part.
Chaplaincy to the Filipino community during the pandemic
Rev’d Canon Salvador Telen, Vicar of St. Saviour’s Walthamstow, is also the chaplain of the, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) communities in Walthamstow in the Diocese of Chelmsford and All Saints Battersea in the Diocese of Southwark. The IFI is a part Anglican Communion in the Philippines. Salvador talks about his experience as a chaplain to the IFI community in response to Covod-19.
“The coronavirus pandemic has been very challenging and emotional. Prior to lockdown I met with some members of the chaplaincy who are also members of Filipino Organizations like the Filipino Domestic Workers Association FDWA, Gabriela London, Migrante International and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, to coordinate a response.
“For us Covid-19 means connect, volunteer and I donate. We looked after our community by calling our vulnerable members; our volunteers started delivering food and medicine to our elderly and vulnerable. We also delivered groceries to our frontline workers.
“To finance the project, we were successful in our application to the National Lottery through the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium.
“After a month of lockdown, our response to our community became more challenging - supporting those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and grieving families as well the families of Filipino nurses and key workers. We have also had an increase in people requiring support with mental health and wellbeing following the loss of a loved one. We have helped almost 400 households.
“Our records show that almost 100 Filipinos have died from Covid-19, most of them were working in hospitals. Some these people didn’t have access to healthcare because they are undocumented.
“We are aware of other undocumented people who are just fighting the coronavirus without access to medical help. This is a very sad situation for our Filipino community, especially for the thousands of Filipino front liners and key workers who have come to this country to offer their skills and sacrifice their lives to save the lives of others.
“There are currently around 300,000 Filipinos in Britain who have ‘Leave to Remain or British Citizenship - 75% live in London, but there are also almost 50,000 undocumented Filipinos also working hard.
“They have sacrificed themselves so that they can send money back to the Philippines so that their children can have a good education and to ensure that their family in the Philippines can live life in its abundance.
“I remember the gospel of Matthew Chapter 25.35-40 I was hungry you fed me, I was thirsty you gave me drink, I was a stranger you invite me, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. In the last verse, he says truly I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of these sisters and brothers of mine, you did to me.
“Therefore, we are also campaigning to protect all undocumented people. Alongside the April 28 coalition in Europe and across the United Kingdom we call the UK government to grant Regularisation and Full Citizenship now, to ensure all people are protected and have access to the care they need.”
The Christian Kitchen at St Michael’s and All Angels church, Walthamstow.
St Michael and All Angels church in Walthamstow is the home of the Christian Kitchen – a charity which provides hot meals for homeless people in Waltham Forest.
When the Christian Kitchen was in urgent need of new premises to prepare food, the church offered the use of the kitchen in the church hall. The Christian Kitchen has operated from the Walthamstow church for the last 3 years.
The Christian Kitchen was founded 26 years ago as an ecumenical project and many volunteers are from the Muslim community. The Nationwide Building Society and Stagecoach also send teams of volunteers to help and local supermarkets donate supplies. The project operates 365 days a year, every night their catering van makes its way to the top of Walthamstow Market and feeds around 50 guests each night.
Before lockdown, people could sit down at tables at the Mission Grove car park site to eat their meals. Since the lockdown, meals are pre-packed and distributed in foil containers; to comply with physical distancing rules and there is no sitting area. Additional meals are being prepared for homeless who are under Covid-19 safety measures and have taken up temporary accommodation at a local hotel.
Having a seating area gave volunteers a chance to chat with people, find out something about their circumstances and give them practical advice on where to get help. It is very much hoped that at the end of lockdown it will be possible to reinstate this ministry, as it can be a real lifeline for homeless people in the community.
To find out more about the Christian Kitchen, including how to volunteer or make a donation please visit www.christiankitchen.co.uk.
Foodbank at St Mary’s church, Leyton
St Mary’s Church in Leyton has opened a foodbank as the demand for food parcels has risen eight-fold in its local area during the coronavirus pandemic.
St Mary’s is a church plant, linked with the Hackney Church Group in the Diocese of London and is part of the Diocese of Chelmsford’s mission to plant 101 new Christian communities over the next ten years.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Hackney Church group were distributing parcels with enough food to provide 1,000 meals a week. This figure has risen to between 8,000 and 9,000 meals a week after a second foodbank was opened at St Mary’s.
The church receives referrals from a number of agencies and works in partnership with the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ Campaign, the Hackney Food Bank, the Trussell Trust – which uses it as a distribution point - and with Waltham Forest Council.
Around 80 volunteers including congregation members work to deliver food parcels to people shielding or unable to leave their homes.
Littlebury Church Fete (with a differance)
Holy Trinity Church, Littlebury held a virtual church fate using their Facebook page. Inspired by local residents with a dab hand at technology and publicity, the community was invited on a Fete FB page to enter a Bake Off competition and Pet Show, to Guess the Number of Sweets in a Jar and, by making a donation, enjoy automatic entry into a draw to win a Barrow of Delights all supplied by villagers.
A socially distanced Plant Sale was held in the churchyard, 157 cream teas were delivered thanks to a great response from cake makers, homes were decorated in rainbow colours, teddies joined in too and the blue and rainbow coloured hearts knitted during lockdown in appreciation for all the heroes and key workers danced in the breeze in Littlebury Churchyard.
Thanks to the generosity of the community an unprecedented amount of just over £4,000 was raised to ensure the church stands firm in Littlebury