19 May – Rev’d Stephen Wright, Petersfield Methodist Church

The Church in Lockdown

A lot has been heard about different people’s experience of lockdown recently. But what about the church? I can’t speak for all, but I guess I’m not going out on a limb by saying it was tough, although not all grim. As the pandemic took hold, the church responded in a number of innovative ways. Some focussed on human need and involved the up-scaling of pre-existing support like food banks. Others transformed worship, as churches took to zoom and other digital platforms.

As a person who has regularly led zoom worship, I am well aware of its limitations, but it has also been a positive force. Especially when the only alternative involved no singing, no proper interaction with others and a mask. For many, online worship has been a lifeline but zoom also transformed how worship was done. Services tended to be shorter and digital resources also allowed a range of different musical styles to be used. Perhaps the thing I did not expect is that it would still enable a real sense of belonging and community.

As physical worship once again gains momentum, it will be interesting to see which of the above will stick. Certainly, many churches will continue to use zoom alongside worship in church. I am certainly thinking hard about the benefits of quality rather than quantity, in terms of service length and sermon! And the togetherness (so evident in lockdown) has got to be something to hold on to. As for so many, the church has had a difficult time in pandemic, but as we fully exit lockdown, I hope it will do so with some important lessons learned.