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 going to be 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 will also disproportionately affects those in our communities who we provide most pastoral and practical support to and we need to find 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
- Holy Week at Home - A collection of home worship resources for each day of Holy Week
- Spiritual Communion - 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.You can find out more here.
- Resources for family worship at home
- 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.
- Live streaming - 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. Please share these streams on your own Facebook page so others can watch at home. Please let us know if you will be live streaming your own services and we will help to promote them on our own channels. Please email us at email@example.com, To understand how many people are watching your videos and live streams, click here
- Prayer for the Day - each day the Church of England publishes audio and text of the Prayer for the Day.
- Smart speakers - 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
- #LiveLent - all the #LiveLent resources, including blogs, videos, daily reflections and worship resources are available at www.chelmsford.anglican.org/livelent. Although our Lent Lecture series has been cancelled we will be filming the remaining lectures and adding them to the website along with videos of previous lectures.
- Saltshaker website- resources for children and family ministry
- Support and resources for youth workers
Creating your own worship resources and social media
- 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.
If you have a question or need advice on parish communications please email the Diocese of Chelmsford Communications Team.
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.
Over the coming days we will be providing resources, ideas and examples of churches finding new ways to support their local 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.
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.
If you would like to contact The Children’s Society, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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).
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.