Churches across the district are using technology to get the message across following the suspension of public worship because of the Coronavirus.
All Saints, the parish church, in St Ives, will be livestreaming its Sunday morning Eucharist so parishioners can be involved with the service as it happens and others services will be put online where they can be watched throughout the day.
Fr Mark Amey, vicar, said: “The idea is that although we are physically separated we are spiritually united.”
All Saints closed for public worship after the archbishops of Canterbury and York issued advice that it should be suspended until further notice following government guidance.
Fr Mark said the church, which is the base for a food bank, said they would be observing social distancing recommendations during church activities in a bid to prevent the virus spreading.
“We will be livestreaming our Sunday act of worship at 10.15am It will be the complete service as if people had come to church on a Sunday morning, with music and a sermon, and once it has finished it will disappear,” he said.
Morning prayers and the daily eucharist will also be recorded and will be available throughout the day.
Fr Mark said they were still having some technical issues and would like to hear from anyone who could help, especially with the transmission of sound.
He said the church was concerned that not all parishioners, especially the elderly, would have access to computers and the online viewing of services.
“Our concerns about self-isolation include mental health issues and we are already noticing it with some people,” Fr Mark said.
One of the spin-offs from the closure of schools is that a number of teachers had come forward to volunteer at the church and could help with the food bank, which has a number of older workers who may need to self-isolate and be unable to help.
Fr Mark said: “The really good news is the volunteers coming forward in the spirit of community with each other.”
The church is also holding pastoral conversations by telephone and co-ordinating offers of practical support, such as shopping for people who were self-isolating.
Fr Mark said that although clergy were advised not to do regular home visits, they would be available to anyone in extremis or in an emergency situation.
Fr Mark and Fr Alex Shannon can be contacted on 07308 675777 and information about All Saints is available from stivesparishchurch.org.uk and its Facebook page.
A church in Huntingdon is still operating but in different ways. Christ Church Huntingdon normally meets at St Peter’s School on a Sunday (see photo above for what church used to look like), but for the first time they livestreamed their service from a living room! With songs, prayers, an interview for Mother’s Day and a special talk, Sunday church continued, despite the difficult times.
The minister, Rev Charlie Newcombe says “Everything has changed in the last few days, but actually the good news of Christianity remains as wonderful as ever. It was great to be together online, and we are so glad that we can still give hope to people at this time. Friends from across Huntingdon, as well as guests from Czech Republic and South Africa joined us last Sunday. We hope others will join us in the coming weeks, whether they are church goers or not. It gives people who don’t normally go to church a chance to try us out on their phone or tablet from the comfort of their own living room, and at this time we all need one another!”
Through this period of social distancing, the church is working out new ways of staying in touch. These include videoconferencing for small meetings, phone calls (especially for elderly members and neighbours), an active WhatsApp group, and regular podcasts (also broadcast on HCR104fm’s “thought for the day” at 8.30am).
Along with other churches and groups in Huntingdon, they are also offering phone calls to those who are lonely or need practical help. Charlie says, “It’s going to be hard as we are all cooped up more in our own homes, and there’s uncertainty over how long it will be for. Amongst other things we’ve been encouraging people to stay thankful for the little things (like the lovely weather) and to be thoughtful of others (whether in your home or next-door neighbours). Do get in touch with us or any of the other churches locally if we can be of assistance, or if you just need someone to talk to. For more information, see www.christchurchhuntingdon.co.uk or phone 07944 143753.