Church is changing
Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents an unprecedented challenge to our communities, our parishes and our churches. Our mission is to meet this challenge by becoming a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.
It is a huge adjustment for us not to gather together for worship, not least because that is precisely what we want to do in a time of crisis. The Coronavirus also disproportionately affects those in our communities who we provide most pastoral and practical support to and we are finding new ways of doing this.
This web page provides resources and ideas to help you:
1) Encourage people to pray and worship at home
2) Continue to bless your community in new ways.
Click on the links below to find the section you are looking for:
- Worship Resources:
- Live Streaming, Using Video and Creating Online Worship Resouces
- Serving and blessing our communities- Your Stories
- Serving and blessing our Communities- Advice and Information
- Digital Worship and Meetings- Safeguarding
Throughout Christian history some Christian people have found themselves isolated from the sacramental life of the Church for all sorts of reasons, and particularly in times of plague, famine and warfare. At such times the Church has encouraged people to make what is called a spiritual communion. It is a way of uniting yourself with Jesus and entering into communion with him even though you are not able to receive the sacrament itself.
A collection of links compiled by various Church of England Dioceses and free for you to access and use.
National Faith at Home resources
Faith at Home is a national campaign that builds on the work of Growing Faith and Everyday Faith to support the faith development and pastoral care of children and young people.
Each week, new content is published to support families discuss faith, develop their practices and habits together.
From 4 July, church buildings can reopen for gathered worship again, albeit with restrictions. Opening the Doors resources have been developed for churches as their buildings reopen to the public. The aim is to equip churches to engage people beyond their own congregations, recognising that many will have accessed worship online or may have reflected on big or spiritual questions during lockdown.
These resources are flexible and customisable to local context. Primarily they are invitational, providing a logo, posters, invitations, a video, largely delivered digitally but with the option of hard copy available through the A Church Near You Resource Hub and The Church Print Hub.
Opening the Doors includes liturgical resources delivered by the Liturgical Commission, with some supplemental ideas generated by a team of pioneers and Fresh Expression practitioners. As with the guidance on reopening churches, the aim is not to put pressure on churches to reopen at a certain time but to provide help for when it is right to do – permissive not prescriptive.
Videos and podcasts
Over the coming weeks and months we will be sharing worship videos and podcasts which you can share with your own parishes on social media and by email.
Chelmsford Cathedral is live streaming morning and evening prayer from the Deanery. You can watch this on the Chelmsford Cathedral Facebook page and the video will also be uploaded to the Chelmsford Cathedral YouTube Channel. Find out about streaming your own worship here.
Prayer for the Day
Each day the Church of England publishes audio and text of the Prayer for the Day.
Daily prayer can be accessed via the Church of England smart speaker apps.
Prayers and Liturgy
The Church of England has put together prayer and liturgy resources. These can be downloaded, printed, and shared with those remaining at home or who are unable to access the internet.
Daily Hymns and Sunday Services
From the Royal Society of Church Music. You may wish to share these via your own church website
Hymns for digital church services
The Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields have record hymns and songs for use by clergy and church leaders livestreaming Sunday services across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. A selection of up to five pieces of music recorded by the choir will be made available every Thursday evening through the A Church Near You (ACNY) Resource Hub website, where there will also be details of music that will be available in subsequent weeks.
The scheme wmeans that Church of England churches can download music through ACNY from St Martin’s Choral Scholars rights-free when they hold a CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) licence, with the ‘streaming’ addition.
Deaf Church online services
The Deaf Church in Chelmsford Diocese are posting worship videos using BSL to their Facebook page. Watch the videos at www.facebook.com/DeafChurchDioceseofChelmsford
A collection of resources for children and family ministry - View the Saltshaker website
Support and resources for youth workers
Our Dicoese Youth team have a collection of support and resources on their webpages - Support and resources for youth workers
How to stream live services
This useful blog from the Church of England explains how a church can inexpensively stream a sermon or service.
Digital training webinars
The Church of England’s Digital Team will be running a number of free webinars on how to use the digital communications effectively during this time of social distancing.
The series of webinars will look at different ways your church can use digital communications to keep connected with your congregations, as well as reaching out and caring for those in your local community. Register your place.
A Church Near You
Churches can use their A Church Near You pages to add a live streaming tag to any online services they are streaming.
If your church has not yet claimed their A Church Near You page, find out how to become an editor.
Labs Learning blog
Contains a wealth of information about how your church can make the most of digital communications tools that are available. View the Labs Learning blog.
Below are some useful links to posts about using social media for your church.
- An introduction to Instagram
- How your church can use Twitter more effectively
- A checklist for setting up social media accounts
- How to create a Facebook page for your church
If you have a question or need advice on parish communications please email the Diocese of Chelmsford Communications Team.
Zoom is a video conferencing tool. Zoom is one way for churches to stay connected with their church communities. Churches can use this to host meetings on online services.
As more of us are now using digital and video communications in our ministry it is important that we are aware of the safeguarding implications and following best practice. Please ensure you are familiar with the following guidance and share it with those in your parish who organise online meetings or worship activity.
- Advice for using video conferencing for youth work during Covid-19
- Using Zoom for video meetings with young people
- Keeping children safe online
Church Online - Survey
As our church buildings begin to reopen over the coming weeks and months, it is vital that we don’t lose everything that we have learned and gained from doing church online. In the coming weeks we are trying to capture that learning, to understand the role of online church in the future and how the diocese can support our churches through training and resources. Please share your views with us using our online survey or email us your thoughts and reflections at email@example.com
As well as finding new ways to encourage and support worship and prayer, we need to find 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 below
Read stories and best practice at www.chelmsford.anglican.org/blessing-communities.
Please get in touch and let us know what your church is doing to bless your community.
Useful links and Resources
Volunteering during the coronavirus pandemic
Essex County Council and the Councils of each of our London boroughs have issued a call to everyone in Essex and East London to help their neighbours and volunteer to support the county’s most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis.
There are a range of ways you can help at the moment. If you want to volunteer in your local area, please click on the links below to find out more:
Local Facebook Groups
A number of Facebook group have been set up to provide support to local communities during the Coronavirus outbreak. Please join your local group and share it with your networks:
Please let us know of other Facebook community support groups and we will add them to this page.
There is real scope for community organising despite physical isolation. The diocese of Chelmsford is a formal partner of Citizens UK and a friend of The Centre of Theology and Community, who offer some guidance at www.theology-centre.org.uk/ministry-in-the-half-light-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ and www.theology-centre.org.uk/technology-and-community/. Closer to home, Caroline Beckett and Andy Griffiths are podcasting about Christian leadership as community organising in a time of pandemic; all episodes can be found here and they welcome your participation.
Blog and Podcast from the Centre of Theology and Community
The Centre of Theology and Community have launched a blog and podcast- Just Church: Podcast on Organising and Growth.
Foodbanks and pop-up shops:
Latest government advice states that “facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as foodbanks or homeless shelters”.
The Trussell Trust has put together some helpful guidance for the safe operation of their foodbanks during this period. Their guidance which can be viewed in full here includes the following:
At food banks, social distancing rules mean ensuring volunteers who are classed as ‘at risk’ because they are over 70 or have a health condition stay at home. It means making sure there are hand-washing facilities in any centre people are in, and everyone is encouraged to wash their hands. It also means making big changes to the way centres work, to limit contact between people. This will look different in different centres, but it might mean:
- Instead of being invited into a centre, people referred are immediately given a pre-packed food bank parcel in a practical, dignified and compassionate manner
- Ensuring that wherever people are waiting, there is a large enough space for people to wait at least two metres apart
- A reduced number of food bank sessions per week
- Coordination with local agencies to give them pre-packed food bank parcels, or to deliver to people those agencies work with
The Trussell Trust have also issued an Urgent Request for Support from Churches, which may be of interest to your own church if you are able and looking to start or extend your support for food banks.
Please note, advice and guidance about foodbanks will remain constantly under review, so please keep checking these pages.
Mental Health resources
Feeling anxious or overwhelmed is completely understandable at a time like this, especially if you are struggling with mental health or are concerned about someone with a physical illness. The resources below are designed to help and you may wish to share them with people via email or on social media:
Church of England Reflections and Resources
A series of reflections on how to cope with anxiety and loneliness in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, including simple Christian meditation techniques and five useful tips, have been published by the Church of England.
Children’s Society resources
The Children’s Society has a range of resources to support mental and emotional well-being. The resources are available online at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/coronavirus-information-and-support
They have also created a video with 5 top tips for self-care – watch the video here.
The Children's Society has also produced a prayer resource for this year's Thy Kingdom Come. The resources and a special mindful colouring card supporters can download here.
Take a Pew – Senior church figures speak out in support the work of the Children's Society
In these unprecedented times, The Children's Society continues to work with the most vulnerable children and young people, many of whom are at increased risk of exploitation, abuse and poor mental health. Frontline staff continue to support young people online and on the phone, and continue to lobby government and campaign for change. They work in partnership with the Church of England many senior church figures continue to speak out for the voices of vulnerable children and young people to be heard, and to support their vital work.
Why not sit down, have a cuppa and watch these short videos as senior church figures invite you to ‘take a pew’ with them?
If you would like to contact The Children’s Society, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The church has a unique role to play in this crisis but at the same time we must be part of the wider effort to protect people from the spread of COVID-19 through information sharing and by setting an example as responsible citizens.
You can read our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for Parishes. This page will continually be updated and is in line with on Guidance from the Church of England and Public Health England.