Kenninghall parish church at the centre of its community

St Mary's Church stands in the centre of Kenninghall village in the Breckland district with a population of just under 1,000 and is very much at the centre of its community’s life too. The Revd Canon Lorraine Summers tells us of some of the things they have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practical care for all ages

“We’ve distributed 48 packs of playing cards to the elderly and couples in the village and ladies toiletry or chocolate gift bags were left on doorsteps of single parents and female residents and so far we’ve dropped over 50 packets of biscuits on residents doorsteps, with more still to be delivered!

“We’ve had some lovely responses from ‘The church has been really thoughtful during this time’, to  ‘St. Mary’s is awesome!’”

They held a ‘Great British Lockdown Bake Off’ contest by putting up wartime recipes for the locals to try, who then uploaded their efforts to the church Facebook page. It was timed to coincide with the planned VE Day 75 celebrations. One resident commented; “It’s the first time I’ve baked in years!”

Keeping the younger residents occupied has also been an ongoing aim. An Easter colouring competition proved very popular with lots of entries for the four age group categories’ prizes. Again, the various contributions were shared via Facebook.

“We’ve sent out over 200 craft bags to local children. Each child gets a bag. We theme the bags, so there was a general craft one, Easter one and this week’s one is ‘under the sea’ themed. As well as this we have left bubble wands on doorsteps for 100 children in the village. Families are very grateful, and the children love getting doorstep deliveries from church!”

Two batches of craft bags were given to Kenninghall primary and Spooner Row primary for key worker children who are still in school. “The children loved them!”

All of these activities have fostered a real sense of community through this difficult time, with many people posting grateful comments on St Mary’s Facebook page.

In partnership with the Parish Council, the Church has given key workers working in the village a financial gift each and has financially supported a few families that were struggling until government payments came through.

Worship continues

Lorraine has also been producing a “service sheet” each week with the Lectionary readings, a “Thought”, Collect and suggested prayers for the week and any notices. “These I send out to regular church members and some of them pass them on to those who have no internet.

“I don’t have the equipment or technical know-how for streaming or producing online worship, but we put links and signposts up on our Facebook page to other local churches who do.

“A few non-church goers have since asked to receive the sheets and I have had many comments about them being helpful, not least for letting folk know what day of the week it is!

“The church building may be closed but the church is Kenninghall is very much alive!”