St Edmund’s has a congregation of about 20 odd on a good Sunday. They are faithful and beautiful people and I find myself humbled to minister among them.
As you will appreciate, they are involved in the wider life of the community and bring their faith into action constantly. Since we have been unable to meet in the church or as a congregation elsewhere, we have continued to produce the pew sheet called St Edmund’s Penny. I write a sermon each week as well as a small piece encouraging the faithful church, another member of the congregation produces the readings and propers for each Sunday, and we also produce a sheet with the words of one or two hymns.
The congregation is not young and not necessarily tech savvy. Email for some is the cutting edge (me included).
Those written pieces are currently being distributed (by request from the recipients) to 45 email addresses, a further six are delivered to post boxes or other mail. That is 51 deliveries, most of those have two or more people receiving at each address, so that’s 100 or more people. Maths wasn’t my best subject at school but that looks like a congregational growth of 500%. Not too bad in an age when the church is told it is irrelevant.
Of course there are other things being undertaken by the parishioners; telephone pastoral care, visiting the lock-ins and those who are alone, running a prayer chain, and we also have a weekly Zoom bible study/fellowship gathering for those who can manage.
My view is that people are finding community in the faithful folk of the church. God has turned the virus into some kind of blessing, and my prayer is that we will see a revival and renewal continue once the doors open again. In that vein, the Vestry is already planning a community meal in the church hall once the lockdowns have passed.
by Reverend Hadyn Swinbourn