Working together in King’s Lynn

Over the last year, the congregations of St John's Church in King's Lynn and North Lynn Methodist Church had been asking themselves how they could work "with" their community, and not just "for" them? The lock-down has, quite unexpectedly, helped them to explore this question, as the Revd Becca Rogers explains.

Benjamin bunny makes a guest appearance in the weekly St John’s Toddler Group video

Joining with others

Here in Kings Lynn town, the Borough Council has coordinated the community response to COVID-19 with a helpline for people in need. So as a church we simply “joined the list” of those who can help. The council send us referrals, and one of our team of volunteers picks it up. We have shopped for people who are self-isolating, picked up prescriptions and even transported a “sample” to the doctors (it’s all glamour here in Lynn!).

Additionally, we have worked with the council to help people who have recently been “housed” and have no furniture. The usual means of sourcing furniture are not functioning due to lock-down, so we have arranged pick-ups of second-hand furniture from local people, and delivered to, so far, two families. Again, this has been done alongside others: namely, “the angels of Kings Lynn”, a Facebook site set up by a local lady in March.

Someone said to me the other day: “When lock-down is over, please let me know how I can come and help at the church. I’d love to thank you all for what you’ve done for me.”

We have made connections, which are proving very meaningful. A church member who now shops weekly for an elderly lady said: “We make each other laugh: it’s one of the highlights of my week.”

God is really answering our prayer about working with others, and we are seeking Him for more of it!

Ministry within the church

It has been really important to stay in touch with one another, and right from the beginning, we encouraged people to phone two or three others every day. We perhaps haven’t kept this up to that level, but there is a definite sense that people are phoning each other. Whenever I ring someone, they tell me who else they have spoken to which is lovely.

Thanks to Angela, at the Minster, we organised the live streaming of Morning prayer on Zoom very quickly, and though it felt very odd at first, I am used to it now, and find it possible to forget that I am being filmed!

Like many others, I am surprised and delighted by some of the extra people who are “tuning in”. We pre-record our Sunday services and upload those each week: despite varying internet speeds!

After a couple of weeks, we were aware that those who are not online were missing out, so we now print off service sheets, newsletters or sermons, and hand-deliver or send those (being very careful with infection risk etc). This has helped those church members to feel connected.

Children’s ministry

Our wonderful part-time children’s worker has done a great job of keeping in touch with our younger members. Claire designed a “holy-week” pack with prayers and a craft for each day and has made various crafts and activities since. She also makes a short video (see photo above!) each week for the children and has been hosting ‘zoom’ youth meetings each Saturday night.

Working with Eastgate Academy school locally, we also arranged for 130 home-made cards and letters to be made. These were delivered to local care homes, as well as to our church members who are particularly isolated. A few of these then wrote back to the children, which was an unexpected bonus.

Becca delivering the children’s cards to a local care home

Looking to the future

Lock-down has been hard for so many people, but it has certainly brought some opportunities. We have had to be less focused on structures and meetings, and more so on people and worship.

A challenge to take forward is how do we keep these focuses in the future? Additionally, it has been physically impossible to invite people to things, and we have had to go to them instead. This is a focus that we want to have, even when lock-down ends. We pray for the grace not to just ‘revert’ back into old patterns of thinking!