The COVID lockdown has forced new ways of doing things at St Nicholas’ Anglican in Goulburn. It’s been a season of ‘finding a way’ to keep some ministry happening. In-person church services were no longer an option. St Nick’s is yet to complete an audio-visual upgrade that would give it the capacity to produce online services so it didn’t have the facilities to do an online service well. What’s more, the lockdown happened with two hours’ notice on a Saturday afternoon!
‘Thankfully, our good friends at Goulburn Presbyterian Church came to the rescue,’ said Reverend Paul Davey. ‘They had finished their own audio-visual upgrade and so had all the equipment and the know-how. They kindly offered to film our services during the week for release online on Sunday mornings. We were saved!’
It took a while for St Nick’s to get used to filming an online church service. The first service was pretty basic in every sense. But as time went on a kids talk was added, songs and hymns and varied liturgy. Finally, themed shirts were added to lighten everyone’s mood. There was travel clothes Sunday, football jersey Sunday and loud shirt Sunday. The biggest response was to ‘flanno Sunday’ where parishioners were encouraged to wear their flanno! It’s not the same as in-person services but St Nick’s is finding a way to provide some kind of church service.
Pastoral visitation is also complicated during a COVID pandemic. Both for reasons of compliance and for public health it is generally inadvisable to continue pastoral visitation. This led to St Nick’s increasing their phone calls to parishioners utilising their existing Telecare team.
‘We can’t easily and safely visit a number of people at this time, but we can pick up the phone and call people’, said Reverend Davey. ‘It’s also 100% COVID safe as there’s no way anyone can catch COVID through a phone call!’ Parishioners were also encouraged to pick up the phone and call each other too. Through the humble phone call St Nick’s is finding a way to maintain relationships and provide pastoral care during lockdown.
The lockdown also came in the midst of St Nick’s ‘Winter Hampers’ appeal. Normally parishioners bring in groceries for a month before they are packed by a team for distribution to needy Goulburn families. However, the lockdown was a double whammy. It meant losing a Sunday when people would have brought groceries. It also meant packing became problematic as we couldn’t use a team any more. So, the groceries sat for a couple of weeks to ‘quarantine’ and were then packed over a much longer period without the use of a team. They were then distributed to needy Goulburn families through delivering the winter hampers in a ‘contactless’ COVID-safe manner.
‘Praise God that we were able to get the winter hampers out!’ said Reverend Davey. ‘This winter they are more needed than ever as so much casual work has been cancelled due to the lockdown. And excitingly, despite the reduced number of donation Sundays the parish donated more than ever!’ Despite the COVID lockdown God enabled St Nick’s to find a way to continue this ministry to needy Goulburn families.
Ministry in parishes during COVID lockdown has been difficult across the diocese. But with God guiding us our parishes have been finding a way. How has your parish been finding a way to do ministry in spite of the COVID lockdown?