In the last week I have seen a few ‘so what is the church doing?’ kind of comments/posts on social media and the like, around Coronavirus. Especially so since religious staff were put on the key workers list, and then the National Secular Society decided to get in on the action and asked:
why ‘religious staff’ are on a list of ‘key workers’ entitled to send their children to school during the #coronavirus outbreak. We’re urging the govt to reconsider. Religious concerns mustn’t undermine public health…
(edit: to be fair to them, the tweet has been deleted and the NSS issued an apology of sorts here)
At the weekend I asked people via Twitter, ok then so what is the church doing?
And just to make a point to the NSS I’ve left out anything obviously spiritual until towards the end. Here’s just a fraction of what people said:
From church leaders …
- Working with Mutual Aid UK on safeguarding, on storage and physical food drop offs, running a Foodbank… Implemented a community phone tree network grouping people to chat and check in on each other.
- Sorting parish/ community phone buddies
- Providing resources for kids and adults alike
- Making video content for those stuck at home
- Contacting everyone who’s ever had something to do with our church, inviting them to be part of a support network.
- Developing virtual tots and children work and social media children’s gatherings from scratch to look after children’s mental health and well being. Also providing support to their parents.
- Supporting a plethora of older people and those in self isolation
- Not limiting to parish but taking down walls to help anyone who needs it!
- Phoning people. Sorting shopping. Trying to make sure we find those most in need & get them help.
- Keeping the foodbank going, supporting schools, hunting down nappies, toilet rolls and packets of rice… sending out positive things to do each day to keep mental health at bay … for now
- Dedicated phone line established answered by a rota 8am-9pm for practical and spiritual support – postcards through every door in the Parish.
- Shopping for people
- Hospital chaplains are under immense pressure too – eg: Responding to many invitations to sit with NHS ITU and critical care staff and talk about wellbeing and needing to take care of themselves as they deal with all that is happening
And a few from others in the church who aren’t ‘church leaders’
(because the church is all of us not just the leaders or the institution)
- Phone chain created to keep in touch with isolated people. Huge number of offers of help to coordinate. Many small kindnesses.
- Setting up online story time
- Set up a food bank, planning meals on wheels from church kitchen, working with authorities to establish social & economic support, checking on vulnerable, helping with communication
- Printing extra copies of our mag this month to be distributed to those who live alone, elderly or might be self isolating. It contains contact numbers ways to keep in touch games to play, prayers as well all normal contents .
And all of that doesn’t even take into account that in the last week we’ve:
- Had to rethink every aspect of our jobs overnight
- Found entirely new ways to do worship and ministry in just a few days
- Spent time talking to & supporting those whose weddings have been cancelled
- Have been navigating grieving funeral families and as one minster noted: supporting mourners who won’t have the support of crowds gathering to show love
Today I spent another 12 hour day going from zoom meetings, to taking a last min funeral as a minister became ill, from getting to Asda for the local foodbanks, to liaising with other agencies to set up a foodbank overflow system, from answering peoples requests for help and support at home; to phoning those who are isolated and more.
So, you know, that’s what the church is doing…
Honestly the church isn’t perfect of course, if you don’t like it, fine; but please don’t criticise us for what you think we’re not doing right now.
But the final word on all this goes to @MrsHannahPatton who had the perfect response to the NSS question: