Church Life During the Coronavirus Crisis: an update, on 26/03/2020…

Coronavirus update image without text

Dear RPBC members and friends

About a week ago, in response to the coronavirus epidemic, we decided to stop services and other meetings at church. On Monday, Boris Johnson announced measures that required us to do this.

We are now in a very unusual and strange situation – I often hear the word ‘unprecedented’. It’s disorienting and a little frightening. Because we can’t operate as usual, we have to rethink how we function as a church. We don’t know how long this situation will continue, so we can’t just wait for it to end.

We should try to continue with many of the things we usually do as a church. We would like to have a collective act of worship on Sundays. We would like to have collective prayer, and perhaps a Bible study. We would like to make prayer needs known and pray for each other, for our nation, and for those who are affected by this virus. We would like to serve our communities.

In practice, how can we do those things? We attempted a conference-call type of service last Sunday. It was not a success! I would score it two out of ten. There are many stories about inventors who had lots of failures before they achieved success – Edison with his light bulbs, for example. We need to press on. It is much easier, and it gives a much better result, if we can connect people over the internet than through telephones. In practice that means that you’ll need a smart phone (not a ‘brick’ phone), or a laptop (assuming it has a webcam, microphone and speakers), or a desktop with a webcam etc. If at all possible, try to get yourself sorted with this! Over the coming week we’ll be trying different things out. We hope to come up with a technical solution which will mean that even if you don’t have access to the internet, you can still join in.

We can all call each other. If all church members called one person a day then every church member should get one call a day! I will circulate a list of telephone numbers. If you do not want me to pass your phone number on to others who are part of the RPBC family, please let me know. Otherwise I will include you. I suggest you simply pick somewhere on the list to start and then work your way down. Call one person a day, and don’t just call your best friends!

Let’s make prayer needs known. The prayer chains are still functioning. If you know of someone who’s struggling, please let us know. Pat (from Churches Together) and I have suggested to Bournemouth Hospital chaplaincy that they could let us know about any prayer needs. We’ll see if that materializes.

Please also make practical needs known. If you can’t get to the shops, let me know and I’ll get things for you and drop them off at a safe distance!

We can also volunteer! That might seem like a strange idea, since many RPBC members are over 70 and self-isolating. As many of you know, I thought that we as Churches Together in Boscombe might do something to help the community. There wasn’t much reaction to that, and it has been superseded by events anyway. However, in the process of exploring the idea I found out about opportunities to volunteer. The NHS has invited people to volunteer and 170,000 people have already signed up! Some of the volunteering would be inapplicable to most RBPC members, however one category is as follows: “Check-in and Chat volunteer: This role provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.” You can sign up at https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs. Other volunteering possibilities are also opening up.

Finally, we’ll try to keep some spiritual food coming your way. If we can get our technology sorted there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have some sort of Bible study. I’ll try to do a brief ‘Daily Devotional’. I had in mind to show Christian videos during the year. We can’t meet to watch, but I can circulate them. Since I’ve had a little spare time, I thought I’d look into recording a talk on video and uploading it to YouTube. I’ve recorded the first talk I gave at RPBC in this way, and uploaded it. If you’re interested, it’s here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsFvAKnG314&t=45s. The second is in production!

Well, all for now.

Keep well, and God bless

Simon

(Rev Simon Bartlett)