Lockdown can’t stop the Word of God being shared

Share this article

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.

Zoom also enables members of the congregation, when meeting, to split into smaller groups of around four or five for a more realistic chance to chat with people. This has proved very popular and tends to last around 45 minutes, giving friends a much-needed opportunity to see each other face to face, as well as hear each other.

In addition to streaming and recording Sunday worship, Augustine has also been able to celebrate Communion twice a month, and on Easter Sunday, asking the congregation to prepare a little wine or juice and some bread in advance. During worship, as we sing and take part in the responses and activities, we feel involved and included, just as we do when we gather in the church building or are otherwise together in person.

We recently enabled those without internet and e-mail to phone-in to the service using their own land-lines at a local rate. This is particularly useful for a few of our older people without more modern technology.

We’ve also been able to enjoy coffee together after the service, with many staying on afterwards, including singles, couples and a few families. Although, we do need to bring our own coffee!

We are hoping to have our Annual General Church Meeting via Zoom and the land-line telephone method to involve all who would like to discuss and, as necessary, vote on what is needed at this meeting.

Technology has enabled Augustine United Church to continue its ministry across the city of Edinburgh and beyond with its usual strength, sensitivity and rigour. How has technology helped you and your church to continue sharing the Word and love of God during this time? Let us know.

Share this article