Being Church During A Pandemic:
St. David’s Uniting Church & Castle Square URC
September – November 2020
As outlined in the ‘Coronavirus Transition Document’ sent out last month, we are now accepting that the restrictions brought about by the pandemic will continue in the medium term and so, we are now entering a new phase in our response to them.
First amongst our decisions was the question of whether, and how, to return to weekly gathered worship. We have already communicated that Castle Square won’t be reopening the building for worship for the foreseeable. At St. David’s Uniting, having worked through the risk assessment with the elders and subsequently outlining what services would look like to members, it is clear that the consensus is to not return to such services yet. Of the 59 questionnaire responses online and by ‘phone, 51 said that they did not want to return to gathered worship just yet, and thus, this week, the elders agreed to plan for extended online/distanced worship and social events between September and November. We will then review the situation in November, having a clearer understanding of how winter will affect the virus, and make a decision regarding December and all advent activities then.
Whilst we all understand the reasoning for this, our inability to gather together as we would want is a great sadness for many members and so we will be facilitating the following opportunities to see one another in the flesh!
- The ever-energetic park ramblers have reminded the congregations that all are welcome to join them for a socially distanced walk around Ynysangharad park every Monday (weather permitting!), gathering safely from 10am by the new bridge in the park.
- On Sunday 6th September, all from the St. David’s Uniting Church and Castle Square communities are welcome to gather from 12 – 2pm in Ynysangharad Park – by the bandstand (where there are many benches) for a socially distanced picnic. Bring your own food/drink/family members!
[We will meet if dry; postpone by a week if torrential and if in between and you’re unsure, feel free to contact your elder/buddy/church secretary from 9:30am on the day for confirmation on whether or not we are meeting].
- Plans are a-foot for members to be invited to engage with some temporary outdoor prayer spaces at both Church House and Castle Square. More details to come.
In addition to this, we are planning to expand our online and telephone output, trialing several different services/activities over the next 3 months, starting 6th September and which include:
- Live weekly Zoom services. Those online will be able to join together for worship from 10:45am every Sunday whilst those not online will be given a telephone number to use to join in and thus will be able to listen and participate in worship. At the end of the service we will have coffee morning groups arranged just so that members can chat with one another. The recorded service will then be uploaded on YouTube for others to worship alongside at other times.
- Monthly online Communion service. Once a month we intend to facilitate a short live online evening Communion service. Again, those not online will be able to phone in and participate.
- Monthly film and chat. Once a month, a film on terrestrial tv will be advertised in advance. Phil will then reflect on this message on 4th Sundays; will include some questions in the newsletter; and members who wish to discuss further will be able to online/by phone.
- Monthly discussion services. Once a month we will be inviting guests – one of whom will always be outside our church tradition – to talk on a subject from different viewpoints. A chance for discussion and Q&As with the speakers will then follow. These will, again, be online with a chance to phone in. Planned topics so far include Hope, Black Lives Matter, Death and Humour.
We are hoping that by expanding our online/telephone worship and church activities, church members will continue to be fed spiritually; those beyond the church will be welcomed to engage in dialogue with us; and we will experiment in living out God’s kingdom of justice and joy in new and contextually appropriate ways.
Much of this is dependent upon individuals volunteering to facilitate a Zoom meeting/service once a month and all members are strongly encouraged to consider whether this is an act of service they can offer the church at this time. If we do not have enough volunteers, we will simply have to reduce our planned activities so please give it some thought and prayer and contact Phil or Bethan Walkling if you are willing and able. We are already so grateful to all the communication volunteers – headed up so generously by Bethan, Comms Elder; Marcia, office secretary; and Jan, Castle Square church secretary – who have given up time and energy to keep us all in contact via the phone, delivered sermons and online content these last few months.
Given the ongoing nature of social restrictions, elders/buddies at St. David’s Uniting will be in touch with those on their lists at least once a fortnight (rather than weekly) from September onwards whilst Castle Square will continue with the weekly conference call.
Members are also reminded that they are welcome to contact their elder/buddy and/or Maralyn Tomlinson (pastoral secretary) or Lynda Bull (church secretary) at St. David’s Uniting or Jan Harris (church secretary) at Castle Square, or Phil, with any pastoral news or needs.
In addition to this, some members have volunteered to spearhead the ‘Vision Committee’ which will begin to explore possible avenues forward regarding buildings, church activities and community outreach for our churches and will bring their findings and suggestions back to the whole church community in due course.
We will physically gather for worship and fellowship once again. Until that time comes, we will continue to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God in our homes, on our streets and online.