In March 2020 the UK government issued guidance recommending
that church buildings should be closed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Immediately communities across the country began to ask themselves ‘How can we
continue to be Church when we cannot meet for services?’
Many churches posted notices in their windows:
‘This building is closed. God's people are the Church and we remain open.’
‘The Church is not closed. It has been deployed.’
Many congregations felt that after years of reiterating the
idea that the Church is people, not a building, they were being given an
opportunity to live out this truth in their communities – as ‘living stones’. A
church in Ilford set up a daily food distribution point in their car park. Another
in Essex set up a telephone visiting service. The Abingdon Food Bank (supported
by All Saints) has never been busier.
All Saints has continued to provide fellowship through its
team of Pastoral Visitors. Although in-person visiting has been severely
restricted, they have made regular phone calls to members, and ensured that everyone
has all the practical help and support they need. Just Women and the Men’s
Group have continued to meet through Zoom.
Sunday Services have been provided in various ways: through
a Circuit Zoom service, a Circuit YouTube service, and through ‘Worship at
Home’, a printed form of service which, together with the weekly notice sheet,
is distributed by email and post. We have shared (because we share our
ministers) a separate children’s leaflet produced for Trinity Church, full of
pictures, activities and a Bible story.
Services resumed briefly at All Saints In September 2020,
under the stringent conditions required for Covid-19 safety. Seats were booked
by contacting the Administrator; on arrival everyone sanitised their hands and wore
a mask, and seating was widely spaced. There was no singing, though music was
provided through the AV system. Nevertheless those participating reported a
warm sense of fellowship and a deep appreciation of the value of meeting
together for worship, as well as gratitude to the stewards and everyone who
worked so hard to enable this to happen.
Since the building can only accommodate a limited number,
the other provisions of Zoom, YouTube and Worship at Home continued, and these will
continue to be our means of worshipping together whenever the church is closed.
Subsequent lockdowns in November 2020 and early 2021 have shown how useful it is
to retain these resources.
We give thanks for the technology which has given us so many
opportunities over the last few months: providing music and visual aids on
screens in church, and enabling participation in services and fellowship.
Whatever the next few months bring, we trust in God’s guidance to show us the
ways in which we can continue to worship and care together.
All Saints Methodist Church
There is free parking in our car park behind the Church in Dorchester Crescent.