Though church buildings have had to close their doors, the Church is still very much present and active across the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
In line with the call from the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”, in every corner of Somerset church communities are doing just that, in new and sometimes creative ways.
Revd Philip Hawthorn, St Stephen’s, Charlcombe with Bath St Stephen has led an assembly for key workers’ children at the school over his garden fence. In Alham Vale Benefice, they are keeping hope alive by putting butterflies in the church porch, and encouraging people to drop one in if they are passing on their daily exercise. Jan Richard, Trainee Reader in the benefice says, “The butterfly has been taken as symbol of something which emerges from their isolation in the chrysalis brighter and more beautiful. People have left knitted ones and painted ones, all are lifting the spirits.”
Churches across the diocese are also using digital channels to connect with their communities. Wells Cathedral is releasing a number of newly-recorded choral and organ pieces to reflect the varied programme of music usually on offer during Lent and Easter, as well as sending out a number of new children’s stories that offer a fun way to learn about parables and biblical stories. Bath Abbey is sharing an act of worship every week, along with a thought for the day and an anthem for a day. You can access them all via their website bathabbey.org.
Smaller parishes have tried out new technology for the first time, including St Mary’s Berrow and Brean who have set up a YouTube channel to share reflections. The Revd Tim Treanor, Rector for Wellington Team churches has started doing a daily podcast, which you can access via their website. St John’s, Yeovil has been streaming services from their church for some time, but will doing a more simple worship in line with latest guidance at 10:30 on Sundays on their YouTube channel.
And many are using the Diocesan Prayer and Support Card to let people know they are still praying for them and are there to offer practical support too. In Timsbury, the church has worked with the parish council to establish a team of volunteers to get shopping to the self-isolating. So far they have had over 60 volunteers. ‘Buddying’ schemes have been established in Midsomer Norton and Peasedown to establish regular contact with those who are isolated. Locking Castle Church has been delivering fruit and veg to those in need.
People have taken to social media to share their new prayer life; walking, running or just around the kitchen table. We are posting videos of our daily prayers online each day on Facebook, Twitter and on Coronavirus Prayers and Resources page on our website. If you know of someone who doesn’t have access to the internet and is missing their communal prayer, why not drop a Prayer Calendar through their letterbox so they can join us in our daily prayer?
“May the Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6: 24-26)