Our Church In Lockdown

Our Church In Lockdown

Walmer Baptist Church and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like everyone else, the Church has found the Covid 19 crisis and the ensuing lockdown a difficult time.  It seems ironic that only a few months before, we simulated the Church being shut down (link), albeit by a hostile government in that imaginary scenario.   

As the crisis began to bite in March, at first we took the step of limiting our public meetings to socially distanced prayer.  This only lasted a short time before the government put us into full lockdown and we were reluctantly forced to close down our buildings and suspend normal meetings for the first time ever in the Church's history. Obviously everyone was quite dismayed by this.  Our Pastor and Ministry Assistant both started working from home and looking for ways for the Church to interact together.

The painstaking work of producing a GDPR compliant database in 2018 paid off and we were able to quickly compile lists of all the Church contacts, initially to post a letter from Pastor to everyone advising them of the situation.  Fortunately the large amount of members with access to email has now made this far easier.  We then had to embark on a rapid (self taught!) course in 21st century communications.

Our first online services were simple YouTube videos of a basic service that we all tried to watch at the same time, beginning on Sunday 22nd March with Mothering Sunday.  From there we moved on in April to using video conference technology, initially for Sunday, but moving on to a range of meetings.  The current program includes two social get togethers, the knitting group, Friday prayers and a fortnightly Bible study.  Attendance has grown and we have gradually become more familiar with meeting online.  

Something else that we had already organised that came in to its own was our network of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, meaning that we had a network in place to try and make sure that everyone was keeping well and nobody left out.  Also the care and concern that fellowship members had for one another has led many trying to keep in touch.  Pastoral care has still been available by telephone.

We have tried to ensure that no one is left behind and Pastor has ensured that members who do not have access to digital technology have had regular mailings from the Church sharing our notices and worship and Pastoral phone calls.  

As the lockdown is starting to ease we are now looking at how we can use our buildings while maintaining safe social distancing.  At time of writing (June 2020) we are still only meeting on line. The future is uncertain but that is always true, as is the wonderful truth that our loving God is with us.