Churches find new ways of practically serving their communities
Churches are stepping up to help thousands of worshippers and the many others who looking for spiritual, practical and emotional support as they face the challenge of the coronavirus.
It follows the announcement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York that public worship will be put on hold.
Churches are staying open as places of prayer, but regular services have now stopped.
While the suspension of public worship maybe unprecedented, clergy are continuing to minister to their parishes and congregations are discovering different ways they can offer practical help to those in need.
Many are finding ways of continuing to provide services for the most vulnerable, such as keeping foodbanks running and keeping in touch with the elderly and those living alone.
A number are now livestreaming Sunday services and prayer meetings as well as providing practical help to those who are self-isolating, such as offering to shop for them..
St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol is streaming Bible bedtime stories and gathering prayers on Facebook as part of its plans. It is also gathering pictures to be added to the altar representing the community that is still worshiping together.
The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, said she has been deeply moved by the ingenuity, creativity and humour that churches across the Diocese have been showing.
She said: “We’re now doing church differently in the Diocese of Bristol.
“We can’t meet for public worship, but we can pray, and I hope very much that many will pray at home, and that you will remember that clergy are praying in their churches, even though they can’t meet with you.
“We can still care for one another, and we can do that by telephoning each other to offer support; by working together to make sure that foodbanks are well-stocked; and by attending to those we do meet when we’re allowed to, to make sure that they are as supported as they can be.”