Author: Carl Knightly
We recently asked some of our Church Champions what they have seen God doing during lockdown and to share stories. Here is some of what they shared:
- “Many non-Christians who attend our weekly group are wanting to discuss the Bible. I posted out a quiz on Mark last week and have had 7 requests for a copy of that gospel.” – Sarah, Enfield
- “I have been able to provide practical support to a lady with dementia. She had been brought along to our church pop-in by her friend who was trying to help her. Coronavirus added to the complications of her situation. She is now in a care home. I continue to provide phone contact and pray that my contact with her is a witness to the love of God for them both.” – Hilary, Newcastle
- “During lockdown God has been making us focus on [the elderly people in our church] as individuals rather than just lumping them together, looking more closely at specific needs and situations rather than just that of the age group.”
- “People have been happy to be prayed for on the phone, when they get embarrassed face to face. One very deaf lady very willing to chat on the phone when she tends to switch off in meetings – strengthening relationships.”
- At the beginning of the year we prayed for ways that we could get to know the Seniors in our church and village better; to deepen our relationships with them. We are finding that through the regular phone calls we are making to the Seniors at this time of not seeing them they are talking more opening and honestly, chatting for longer and looking forward to our phone calls . We thank God that he has used this time to answer our prayers! We also prayed for generations to mix and that has happened as we have linked a young family with a Senior for phone calls and support – Polly, Bath
- “This situation has created multiple opportunities to start relationships at a local neighbourhood level. We have lived here for 19 years, yet only with Covid19 have people started to engage, rather than just share the niceties of polite greetings. Amazing difference in just a few short weeks! Powerful opportunities to start and to build new friendships! Also, been invited to take open air services at a local (secular charity run) retirement village so that all residents have the opportunity to engage with weekly worship and the word of God.” – Brian, North West England.
Frinton Free church have been working hard to make sure their Wednesday group are not forgotten:
“We (normally) have an outreach event to seniors every Wednesday morning called ‘Welcome Break’ where up to 80 guests come in for activities, quizzes, speakers, music etc. During this time we have been phoning them weekly to keep in touch. I send the team an update and include ideas from Faith in Later Life and others: poems, prayers, advice on mental health and wellbeing. I also try to include a ‘good news’ story from the press too, and also a resource of some kind, e.g: the Daily Hope hotline. The idea is then that the team pass any relevant information on to ‘their’ guests when they phone them each week. I’ve also just begun emailing the guests themselves.
Our church has been delivering Sunday services and ‘thoughts for the day‘ online since the lockdown began and I was surprised and impressed to discover yesterday from an analysis of the viewing figures that 55% of those watching are over 65. So much for the older generation not being online!! However, for those NOT online (about 45 of our members, mostly seniors), we post out weekly sermon transcripts and the church bulletin with family news, information etc. Last week we had a prayer week and met on Zoom three times a day to pray for the nation, the church worldwide and the church family. For those not online, we posted out some guidance (‘timetable’, suggested prayers etc) to enable everyone to take part at the same time.
We are making weekly pastoral phone calls to all those living alone and vulnerable couples. Another lovely initiative has been carried out by our sister church Coastlands in Walton (part of our new local ‘seniors network’). There are over 20 care homes in this area. Denis Bradshaw writes: Just wanted to let you know of a little initiative that we undertook recently re: care homes and care agencies in Walton & Frinton. Coastlands started a 24/7 church prayer team 3 weeks ago. As part of that, all care homes and specific health and care workers identified are prayed for each day. On the back of that, we have sent cards to all care homes and care agencies – we thanked the managers and staff for their hard work in caring and assured them that we were praying for help and protection. We have so far received a very positive response from one care agency – they were appreciative that we recognised their work and had not forgotten them.”
The minister (and a Faith in Later Life church champion) at Bethel Baptist Church, Hawthorn and Beulah Baptist Church, Cilfynydd, shared this:
“At present, as minister, I prepare Sunday Order of Service and messages for the congregations I pastor – a total of about 45. These are delivered to each home, observing social distancing guidelines. It takes me about 3 hours to complete the round. It has gained me the title of “Pastor Santa”, as I rarely meet anyone in person and suddenly the envelopes are there. I do this because most of the congregations are not au fait with modern technology and this ensures that all have a copy for their own use. I understand that copies are being handed to neighbours and I also email copies to those who live away from the immediate area, even as far as Warrington. Both congregations also check up on each other via telephone. Personally, I also am registered as a Volunteer Community Responder for our local authority through which I can check on others in the community who are self-isolating and registered as being vulnerable.”
“The weekly messages has created conversation and discussion amongst the congregations. It also encourages people, especially those who live alone, that they are not alone. With one of my congregation, it has resulted in impromptu Bible studies over the telephone. Since I have started delivering these copies, the circulation list has increased with some infrequent church attenders requesting copies. It has also enable some to reach out to their neighbours by sharing these messages and service outlines.”
And we were really encouraged that another Church Champion told us that; “Faith in Later Life is a great encouragement always, but especially during lockdown”
Are you a champion for older people in your church? Would you like to receive more encouragement, resources and support?
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