On the 21st July 2020 our church posted its first ever YouTube video explaining the new procedures we would have to adopt to enable us to worship safely in-church.
The video introduced us to what would become our norm over the next year. Social distancing, tape, hand sanitising, and for some, the loss of their family pew.
Then that Sunday we hit two milestones. Sunday 26th July 2020 at 10am was the day we finally returned to church since 15th March 2020. We had been out of church for 18 Sundays in a row. We had missed our annual Orange Service, but most severely we had missed our most important Religious festival, Easter.
However that Sunday brought hope as we dusted the church down and welcomed those who were able back into the building for inchurch worship.
The Second milestone that day was our very first livestream of the service. It went out on YouTube simultaneously and for the very first time in the history of our church you could participate in the morning service from the comfort of your own home. That livestream video ended up being watched by 55 people, and allowed those shielding to still participate as full members of the church congregation.
The Church continued to hold in-church worship for the rest of 2020, making it to 3rd January 2021, before we had to shut again due to the rise in infections. 24 solid weeks of both In-church worship and livestreaming. Incidentally both the 3rd January 2021 and the 15th March 2020 services (The last to be held before a lockdown) had to be conducted in the hall due to issues regarding the heat in the church building.
We then successfully reopened the church again on Good Friday, 9th April 2021, back in the church building itself, and we have been there ever since.
For a small country parish I’ve been impressed at how we have collectively handled this pandemic. We rallied together collectively, and we’ve been able to achieve so much. A WhatsApp group allowed us all to stay connected to one another. Our Select Vestry was able to co-ordinate the reopening of the church, really without being able to meet together as normal. The church was reorganised and made safe for a COVID age. Together we got Internet installed into the church, we had cables wired from the hall to the church and we set up a complete livestream system from scratch with limited knowledge on how to do that.
We’ve tried to cater to all our congregation as a church. For those with internet they could communicate with the WhatsApp but also a brand new Church website. Spiritually our needs were met with twice weekly videos from the Rectory, including a bible study, which has delved deeply into the Acts of the Apostles.
For those without internet the church as a group has done its best to keep involved. Sermons have been posted out and many members of the congregation have done their best to keep into contact with those isolating.
We were able to decorate our church for Harvest, we even conducted Christmas fundraising in the form of a very successful Holly Wreath campaign.
Through all that has been thrown at us, we as a church have remained beaten but not down, and ready and raring to go.
Its been a wild and rocky year. One we could not have predicted. Its been very tough on so many people, and it sometimes feels like we’ll never be done with it but when we step back and look at where we were, and where we’ve come, we can see the progress thats been made, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In 2020 we celebrated Easter by watching pre-recorded videos of Rev. Synnott from the Rectory. In July 2020 we had brethren read to us on a video service.
In 2021 we celebrated Easter Sunday in Mullaglass Church, and livestreamed that across the Internet. In July 2021 we had brethren read to us live at the service within the Church building.
Progress is slow, but it is happening. Slowly but surely we will be back to normal. So Happy 1 year since we first re-returned to church, and let us hope that we can see more progress as we move into Harvest, and Advent 2021.