It’s been a strange couple of weeks. Just over 2 weeks ago we were having a normal service, albeit with some additional social distancing measures but we were all together in the same building enjoying a Sunday service. Since then everything has changed…so what has been happening at CHURCH in the PARK?

Well, we’ve started a prayer meeting every Thursday night using the zoom app. Before the coronavirus outbreak we had discussed ideas about when we could meet in the week to do this but we were finding challenges around people’s availability and whether to rent more space from Great Park Community Centre which would, of course, create additional costs. Social distancing measures have pushed us to investigate more creative ways of spending time together. I hope that the prayer meeting will continue once life gets back to normal as it has been a source of great fellowship.

In March we completed a giving review resulting in a terrific response. Our church does not make a habit of passing a collection plate around the congregation but rather relies on the planned giving (should they wish to) of those who regularly attend. This review seems to have come at exactly the right time as ways to create additional revenue over the time we are closed will be limited. In response to this, we have done some redesigning of our website, including a ‘Donate‘ button which enables people to give a one-off donation or set up regular giving.

We have also been working hard to develop our Facebook profile and our online services have been extremely successful, despite each week being more challenging than the last as greater restrictions are put on us in terms of who can be where. Last week’s service was viewed 889 times and our page has reached nearly 4000 people in the last 3 weeks! We hope that once we are able to reopen, some of those people will pay us a visit in person. It would be wonderful to see you and to hear about how you found us.

CHURCH in the PARK now has a Twitter feed enabling us to connect with the wider world. The Church of England are following us which led to us finally being able to edit our ‘A Church Near You‘ page which has had over 360 views this week alone. To put this into context, we had only had 380 views in the whole year up to last week! This just shows what an update can do.

All of this digital progress is extremely pleasing. We managed to reach over 1000 people to encourage them to join in with ‘Clap for Carers‘ which, I’m sure you’ll agree, was a wonderful moment for the whole country and it was nice to think we were able to do our bit to let people know about it.

The irony in all of this is that we are reaching further afield digitally despite being further apart physically. Let’s also be clear that there is nothing good about the coronavirus itself. The isolation, loneliness, suffering and pain felt by many across the world is a depressing byproduct of a pandemic, the-like-of-which we hope to never see again.

It is only fitting then that I end our update with a prayer from The Church of England website. More prayers like this can be found here:

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

Stay strong everyone, reach out to one another using technology and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you think we can help.