Christ Church in Norwich throws open its virtual doors
Christ Church in Eaton, Norwich, has reinvented its worshipping life so as to provide a relevant service to the local community during the current lockdown. The parish team reports.
We have assembled a list of volunteers to give practical help to the community, including setting up phone and email contacts with the more vulnerable and isolated who are likely to be experiencing loneliness and depression.
We are encouraging our worshipping community to donate to the foodbank through local supermarkets rather than weekly church collections and donated the chocolate eggs bought for Easter service to it. Those involved with the young people’s groups have prepared and delivered craft packs for the children.
There has been a steady stream of photos and posts on the church’s Facebook page and frequent updates, with links to other websites. The parish’s magazine has been online since April and volunteers give information to those without internet access, whilst strictly observing social distancing guidelines.
The Revd Dr Patrick Richmond, our vicar, has set up Zoom services, meetings and prayers and keeps us regularly updated via email, with helpful links to online prayer resources as well as inviting the worshipping community to take part, for example, by lighting a candle as part of the Day of Prayer, saying the Lord’s Prayer from your doorstep, and applauding the NHS.
Since the end of March, all regular services have been taking place on Zoom, with e-congregations of up to 85 people gathering and several people phoning into services – a useful extra Zoom facility.
Services aside, there are a number of community activities which are taking place. A recently formed Zoom “Men’s group” has met and a “Christ Church Crafters” Zoom group has been created and is making a “Quilt of Kindness”. Members of the pastoral team are also keeping in touch with regular worshippers, especially those who are not online.
“The Lockdown has presented unprecedented challenges to faith, hope and love,” said Patrick, “and I am so grateful to all those rising to these and taking the opportunity to reach out in both time-honoured and new ways to our local and virtual community.”
He continued: “We’re very grateful to be able to talk with people virtually. Indeed, we have increased our contact with some people as a result of these trying times. We’re keen to use phones and so not exclude people who aren’t online and we’re learning lessons that we hope will help us stay in spiritual and virtual contact with the housebound even when church services resume.”
The photo shows Curate the Revd Shawn Tomlinson taking the virtual Easter Eucharist from a chapel set up in her home.
This article first appeared on Network Norfolk’s FaithHopeLove website.