One of the key ways that church has always been expressed is when people gather together for worship each Sunday. Yet with the buildings closed for many weeks, churches have remained very much alive. Here Sarah Preece describes how Crediton Congregational Church adapted to lockdown and reflects on what really makes church what it is…and it’s clearly not the building!
I remember very well the last time that I was in church before lockdown began. There was a sense that we shouldn’t get too close to one another, that we needed to be somehow careful in our interactions with each other but no one knew then that the church building was about to close its doors for the next few months.
As a member of Crediton Congregational Church and part of the leadership team I have been involved in several conversations where we have been looking for new ways to do things, new ways to engage with people, new ways to be church.
Representatives from some of the local churches chatted about some of these changes on Crediton Radio back in May.
So, along with everyone else, ‘Zoom’ became a key word in our vocabulary and much of what we did moved online. We were uploading service recordings to our website and were soon running our Sunday services through Zoom and negotiating the challenges of muting and unmuting at all the right times!
Our Pastoral Care Team began checking in more regularly with those who might have felt more isolated or vulnerable and those who were less able to connect using technology.
Serving our local community is a big part of what we love to do at CCC. So in a time where the needs of the community were changing and increasing, the Foodbank was one way that we were able to help. During lockdown the number of food parcels given out increased unbelievably and it has been a privilege to see the impact of that on individuals and families.
As a church we regularly run events for people to enjoy and these had to be adapted too. We enjoyed a 10 week bake off competition with a different theme each week, a 5 week themed photography competition, a couple of quizzes on Zoom, an online craft evening and a couple of treasure hunts!
We also love to invite others to explore the Christian faith and it was great to be able to run an Alpha Course online during lockdown. This was a 6 week course where we watch a video together and discuss it to help us explore life and faith. Some people who joined us for the course have chosen to continue to meet for weekly discussion which we’re really enjoying. ()
We’ve recently just started to be able to invite people to gather in the church building on Sundays again and there are lots of reasons why that is brilliant and a good model for doing church that we will resume with enthusiasm when we can. But in this time we have had a chance to really look at what it means to be the church. Our vision statement says that we exist to Worship God, Bring people to know Jesus, Be a Christian family, Help people grow in their faith and Serve the Community and we have been able to continue doing all these things whilst the building has been closed.
We have seen again and again that the church is the people, not the building. And while nearly everything around us has changed in recent months, we believe in God who is good, faithful and unchanging and that has brought hope into seemingly hopeless situations and light into darkness.