As we come to the end of 2020 it would be true to say that nobody would have believed the change and transition that we have all had to adjust to. However, despite all the tragedy and disruption, one good thing to come from 2020 has been what some are describing as a “Revival of Community”.
This has run deeper than warm feelings and standing on our doorstep to clap the NHS (although those things have also brought us together). Neighbours are finding each other in ways that we have not done for decades. Knocking on each other’s doors to see that people are managing and OK. Offering to do shopping and practical helps for those who need it. Volunteering as drivers to take people to appointments. The list goes on and on.
As a local church that has served our community for over 100 years, The Well Church (www.iwell.org.uk) have experienced new ways and opportunities to connect to the people we serve. Many of the things we would have traditionally done such as Mums and Toddlers, children and youth clubs, meals and events for seniors and even our Well Community Cafe have all been impacted this year. Whereas these were once events that people would ‘come to’, a reversal has taken place and these are now ‘go out’ initiatives. The church that used to gather to a building for worship services has become the scattered church serving people in their daily lives in the community. Our Well Community Cafes which have helped on the margins of society went mobile in 2020 as we adapted our minibus to become a mobile ‘pop-up’ café in a number of housing areas around the Fylde Borough. Hundreds of freshly prepared meals were served each week and this continues all the way through to the end of the year.
Like so many other churches, many of the things that we did to connect physically became online gatherings as we embraced the complexities and technology to hold meetings simultaneously in our buildings and virtually online. We now find that people join us from all over the world to worship together. We have also delivered hundreds of care packages to families and to the children of our clubs. It has been a rewarding experience to see children excitedly standing at their windows waving as we delivered activity packs full of goodies. Again, this will happen this Christmas to around 200 families. We took out a care box to the elderly with a ‘do it yourself Cream Tea’ and have assisted many of our seniors to overcome their apprehension about technology and join the online world of video gatherings and social media.
Although COVID-19 has been harmful in so many ways, it has been an absolute pleasure to see people come together, adapt, improvise and overcome adversity. It has also been our pleasure to work in new ways with other church communities serving our borough. I am sure that many of the things we have learnt and discovered together will continue on in the next decade. Christmas will be different this year partly online partly outdoors and partly gathering but the love of Christ remains constant for us all.