Walking the Way News

Field r‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’ Jeremiah 32:7

Dave Fraser, one of the Missional Discipleship Mentors serving in North Western Synod, shares inspiration from Jeremiah in a time of isolation:

Over the last few weeks we all have been trying to come to terms with being church at this most difficult of times. We have all discovered new and different ways of leading worship and offering pastoral care to church members. It’s taken a great deal of effort, but Holy Week was remembered and celebrated with joy.

As we have overcome the numerous obstacles that the first three weeks of church building lockdown has presented to us, we now have to discover new ways of carrying on the Jesus-shaped mission we are tasked with.

From the Bible, I am reminded of Jeremiah in prison. He was having a tough time, locked up, hungry, isolated, and yet God invited him to bring a word of hope to others who were also fearful and afraid.

Read more: Feeling isolated? Buy a field!

Edinburgh rLast year, we reported on the contextual Bible studies which Augustine United Church, Edinburgh offers twice a week, helping people to engage with Scripture, who might not otherwise, in ways which are meaningful to their own, every day realities. Since then, the current crisis has prevented the studies from happening physically, but that has not, by any means, stopped them, as Church Secretary Kathleen Ziffo explains:

Through the power of Zoom, we we are able to continue our twice-weekly Tuesday and Thursday (around lunch-time) contextual Bible study sessions, around lunchtime. With online discussions, it is better to keep the numbers relatively small to allow individuals to participate more easily, but this has not stopped people from participating and has, in fact, seen a growth in people who are engaging.

We are attracting people who do not normally attend or contribute to these studies, as they look for something relevant to engage with in, what is, a very difficult time for many. Some of those now attending are not able to work at the moment, dealing with family concerns or other issues which make this time particularly challenging.

Read more: Lockdown can’t stop the Word of God being shared

Hope r

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15.15

Darren Holland, one of the Missional Discipleship Mentors serving in North Western Synod, shares his thoughts on hope in this time of uncertainty:

In the window of our house is a small A4 piece of paper with a rainbow and the word ‘Hope’ written on it. My daughter made it after an initiative went out through schools and across the media, encouraging children everywhere to make rainbows to remind people that there is always hope. As I drove to the chemist the other day, I noticed rainbow coloured paper chains adorning school railings, made, no doubt, by the children of key-workers who are being supported and cared for by teaching staff.

There is always hope, but there are times when hope can be the thing that eludes us most. Psalm 22 has always been a favourite passage of mine. It speaks honestly of the ‘heart-cry’ of someone tormented and feeling abandoned by God. There is also the cry of Jesus as the Gospel of Mark records in chapter 15.34: ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ showing a complete absence of hope.

Read more: There is always hope

Radio rWest Moors is a village of 7,500 residents, seven miles from Bournemouth, with a higher than average percentage of retired folk. It enjoys a vibrant community spirit with many clubs and organisations, but St Martin’s URC recognised that more support was needed for those struggling with memory loss and associated conditions. Christopher Legrand, an elder of St Martin’s, explains how ‘Community Sing-a-long’ helped to fill that gap:

The Sing-a-long is a church service organised by St Martin’s for the community, especially those who are dealing with memory loss. It all started with a monthly event in the church hall for people to sing together. As it grew in popularity, this expanded to twice a month. Between 50 and 60 local residents attend each session, and now, during lockdown, even more are joining in via radio!

Knowing how important Sing-a-long has become to those who attend regularly we wondered how we could best keep in touch during the lockdown, so approached the Bournemouth Christian radio station Hope FM and the local station Forest FM, both of which are now including our sing-a-long items in their programming so people can hear a voice from St Martin’s up to 4 times a week, as well as some of their favourite pieces.

Read more: You can’t stop the music!

Sheffield rThe Manor Church and Community Project is an ecumenical partnership of Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches in Sheffield. Simon Loveitt, Church Related Community Work (CRCW) minister with the project, shares how things are going during this period:

Since the lockdown began, all our lives have changed. All activities at our churches have stopped. I am working mostly from home, and have become very familiar with Zoom meetings, telephone conferences and social distancing, when outside the house. My shopping habits have changed, with weekly trips to the local supermarket rather than the large Sainsbury’s at Crystal Peaks. No trips to coffee shops, restaurants or trips out to the Peak District. My life has changed, and is different from my normal routine, but I still have the security of a job and a wage. However, things are very different for many of our neighbours.

The only church activity which hasn’t stopped, however, is the local Foodbank. It is providing an essential service to the community, working very closely with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, at two sites on the Manor Estate in Sheffield. It is a charity, and its Trustees represent a partnership of faith groups and local community groups working together.

Read more: Hope in Sheffield