13 Aug 2020 • General news
As we prepare to move into August the sands of the pandemic have shifted once again. We are back in church, though in a different form from before Covid-19. We are not allowed more than 30 people in church, households need to maintain distance, wearing of masks is encouraged, there is a lot of hand sanitizing, and there is no choir. In addition, quite a lot of our congregation are continuing to isolate, so we are continuing to provide online services. In truth, like many churches, we are thinking about how to keep some form of online services permanently. We can also glimpse new possibilities for using the internet to build up our church and fellowship. Some examples:
●We could use Zoom for a study group without the need for everyone to come to Highgate,
● Zoom and YouTube could help those who may find the new clean air zone and parking restrictions make it difficult for them to physically come to church.
All of this will take a lot of thought: what we can do sensibly and sustainably. I hope that for the time being we are giving everyone a flavour, if not the full experience, of worship at St Alban’s.
As a priest I am drawn to consider, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ I am sure that God is challenging us to continue being God’s people in a way that connects the old and the new. We have thought about the presence of evil and suffering in the world in a previous issue. In this magazine I have contributed another of my Bachelor of Divinity essays about the Oxford movement. The Oxford movement arose during a time of great change in Britain. It was, in part, an attempt to answer the question, ‘How the Church of England related to the people and country of Britain?’ That question is still with us today: coronavirus is a new stage. So, what are my thoughts on that question at this moment?
1) The church is called to care.
We can do that in all sorts of ways. It has been a great privilege for me to help Stanhope Hall Wellbeing Hub deliver food to households in the community. I’m not doing that any longer, but our foodbank is still helping many people in need. We should give thanks to Amanda for her work in keeping the foodbank running and those in the church and community who contribute food.
2) The church is called to set an example.
I was very heartened to see that everyone who came to church wore a mask. Wearing a mask is a sign of caring for others because a mask doesn’t protect the wearer, it protects everyone else.
3) The church is called to be prophetic.
The church needs to show the way. At a time when people feel that mixed messages make them feel uncertain about the best way forward, we need to show by our words and deeds how everyone needs to behave.
In the context of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrations. The church has to think about the lack of BAME people in leadership rôles in the church of England. As an institution and as an individual church, what are we doing to foster and encourage diversity and inclusion.
In conclusion, I hope this gives you plenty to pray and think about. Please do both so that our church can continue to move forward.