Building closed, church open

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2020 05 11rAs soon as the Covid 19 lockdown was announced, The Elders at Abbots Road URC in Leicestershire had some important decisions to make to ensure the safety of all those people who use the building every day. The difficult decision was taken to close the doors. This did not, however, mean closing the church.

‘Recently, I became aware that the church looks very closed,’ reports Alison Hadley, manager of The Ark pre-school at Abbots Road URC, ‘so I tasked all of the children and young people to create a 'Window of Hope'. The children have created pictures at home, pushed them through the buildings letter box so they can be displayed in the windows. A lady walking her dog commented (from a safe distance!) on how lovely it was to see the church alive even though it’s closed. Hallelujah!’

In addition to this strong visual display, the elders continue to keep in contact with everyone connected with the church in any way to ensure that they know the church continues to support them. There are also church WhatsApp groups which have come into their own during this crisis. One is titled ‘Fellowship’ and enables the congregation to share good news stories and pictures of things that bring hope, encouragement and joy. There’s also a church prayer chain, providing the opportunity to respond very quickly in prayer to individuals, families or situations requiring prayer.

These groups have proved to be very helpful in the past, but are especially invaluable at the moment as the church looks for ways to engage with and support the community.

In terms of keeping existing commitments to charities and social justice efforts going, the church decided to host a coffee morning using Zoom. Eleven people attended and it was great got them to see and chat with each other. Everyone paid £2.50 to attend and, following similar events throughout lockdown, the church looks forward to seeing how much it can raise.

The power of older technology, in the form pf phone calls, text messages, and posting things to people ensures that everyone can benefit from these innovations, even if they can’t get online.

Learn more about what Abbots Road URC is up to here. What is your church doing, or what could it do, to keep connections with the community growing in these strange times?

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