Our lockdown story

written for Outlook

Sunday 22 March will be a day that I will always remember. We were still in Lent, looking forward to Mothering Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. Lots of celebrating to be had in those few short

weeks, but less than 24 hours later we all watched the Prime Minister telling us to stay at home. We all knew it was coming, but somehow it was still a shock, and all of a sudden we were thrust into a new way of living, a new reality had come upon us and we didn’t have any time to prepare - it just happened.

On Tuesday 24 March my diary completely emptied - but I remember that whole week was frantically busy as the realisation dawned on all of us that - as people who had the 'care of souls' in our churches and community - we needed not only to provide something for Sunday, but also ongoing pastoral care in its many guises. Very quickly, we had to adapt to new ways of working, making decisions carefully but quickly. It was a great week - we achieved so much in such a short space of time. The PCC and churchwardens were just incredible, they were so supportive and endorsed all I wanted to do and seek to achieve with our online services, provision for children and young people, pastoral care and community engagement.

It was a good transition, the only downside being not seeing friends, and meeting as a church family - praise God for Zoom! We weren’t sure what the future was going to hold, but we took a hold of God’s hand and we stepped boldly forward and invited a miracle, and many came!

We also discovered that all of our community partnerships came into their own. Partnering with local community groups to provide services to families continues to be a blessing. One of my favourite projects has been working with the Prince of Wales Youth Club in providing and delivering over 15,000 lunches to families in and around Canterbury over 18 weeks. We're still doing this project, and hope to continue over the summer holidays. It's been great getting to know the team and I hope for greater collaboration in the future.

My other favourite thing over lockdown is our 'Moment of the Week'. Members of the church sent in photographs of their daily lives which would be combined to form a video for our pre- recorded Sunday service - they brought great joy, laughter and a reminder of God’s goodness to us.

Lockdown has changed me and my church family. My health has improved - having become a vegetarian, lost two stone, and started running again - but it has also made me more aware of God’s goodness and provision to the Church. We have remained connected, we have continued to worship and serve our community in creative ways, and we have all participated. The people of God have been released and I have seen people do things they never dreamed of doing before. We must not lose this as we go forward. We have re-opened our church, it was a great celebration and we look forward to what God is going to do next.