This Mothering Sunday, churches across Southampton found alternative ways to keep people worshipping and stay connected during isolating times brought on by the outbreak of Coronavirus.
With the recent spread of COVID-19 the Government announced new social distancing measures to keep the public safe, meaning gatherings of varying kinds have been postponed. Following the latest advice from the Church of England, churches across the Diocese of Winchester are seeking innovative ways to worship and ensure the most vulnerable in their congregations are supported.
Saint Mary’s Church, Southampton is one of many to have taken to social media, using Facebook and Instagram to continue engaging with their congregation. On Sunday, the church used their website to live stream their Sunday service to the community from the safety of their homes.
Churches in North Stoneham and Bassett are also using the video conference platform Zoom, to keep people in face to face contact and neighbours in touch one another to reduce isolation. Facebook has proven a huge success with online prayer resources being shared on the Diocese of Winchester community Facebook page, and using Facebook Watch for ‘parties’ to offer simple games that families can enjoy together.
Meanwhile the mission for St Mark’s Church, has been to keep people happy and positive. The church has partnered with the community project group, Woolston Smile to send out prayers and blessings and collect positive stories from around the community to share. St Mark’s Church, with the group will be prayer walking the streets and flyering to show that through these difficult times, people are listening to their prayers and people care.
The Right Reverend, Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin said:
“We are closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 and how this will affect our communities. Although this is a challenging period, it fills me with hope and joy as we find new ways to show love for our neighbours and continue to follow God faithfully. We want people to know that we are here, and we are listening to your prayers, you don’t have to be alone as you isolate in your homes. We are here for you.”
Reverend Jon Finch from Saint Mary’s Church said:
“As a church we are having to find new ways of staying connected to one another as well as God. We hope the use of technology will provide people with enough contact and keep them safe. Following the way of Jesus, we all need to play our part and maintain our faith through these challenging times.”