Emerging out of lockdown

Image of new normal documentFrom 4 July the government regulations about the use of church buildings will change. The Synod Moderators of the United Reformed Church have produced some guidelines, Emerging into the ‘new normal’This is a 28 page document, which may seem a little daunting, but there is useful information in there for all churches and for all of us, however we are feeling. The vital thing to remember is that the coronavirus has not gone away, but that as the number of people infected has fallen, we are able to think about responding in a new way.

As you think about changing, again, what you do as a church you may be feeling many things. Some of us will be feeling…

Despair: ‘we just can’t cope. It may be time to close our church altogether’.

Take time to ask for God’s guidance, and don’t struggle alone, ask your SPA, the Moderator or Property and Trust Officer for help with the questions you face.

Pain: ‘we have been through so much heartache in the last few months’.

Take time to talk together about what has happened and what you might do in the future, but don’t rush into action straight away. Seek the support you need.

Overwhelmed: ‘there is just is much guidance to read and so much to do as a result’.

Take time to learn about the new guidance, and don’t feel you have to do everything at once. Seek support to help you.

Unsure: ‘what changes can we make, safely? How quickly should we respond?’

Take time to ‘stage’ any re-opening of the building for essential mission, other users, and worship.

Steadfast: ‘now is not the time to be re-opening our building’

Take time to communicate your decisions to people inside and outside the church. Review this decision when there are any changes. 

Rejoicing ‘at last we can re-open the building’.

Take time to assess the risks and make sure you have put wise measures in place to minimise risk. Learn from the new ways you have worked during the Covid crisis. 

As you read through these you may recognise where you are, or where other members of your local church or Eldership are. You may also realise that almost everyone is advised ‘take your time, seek further information, seek help’. We need to discern, together, with prayer, the wisest thing to do in response to this difficult situation at any given time.

So what is in the Emerging into the new normal document? Download it here

The Synod Team are here to help you at all stages. Don’t hesitate to ask the Mission and Discipleship Enabler or your Pastoral Officers to help you think things through, or to contact the Synod Property Officer with specific questions. Our Safeguarding officer will help with any queries about Safeguarding.

Latest govt guidance

Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July 

Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships

Churches can reopen for private prayer

But they must still remain closed to most church activities. See the government guidance, URC guidance, and things to consider here

Resources

See the national URC website for more resources and reflections, and a link to their shop which sells signs.

New reality, same mission

The URC has published a new booklet New reality, same mission: A stimulus to renewed community engagement as we emerge from the pandemic. The resource is complementary to the Ready for the new ‘normal’ booklet produced last month and uses questions in that paper as its starting-point. The booklet offers a process for exploring questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the 'new normal' and developing new priorities for mission and ministry. Reflection is also invited about the kind of society and economy that we want to rebuild after the pandemic. It features examples of how churches around the UK are already an active presence in their communities in many different ways, and points to resources and organisations that can provide advice and support. Download it here  

From sheets to scrubs

Recycled sheetsWhat can you do with gently used sheets? In Liverpool, Ann Aspinwall and Karen Crosby have gathered sheets and linens donated by fellow members of St. Stephen’s URC and made over 100 scrubs for hospital and care home workers. 

The scrubs were distributed to Royal Liverpool, Alder Hey, Mossley Hill hospitals and area care homes. Toiletries were gathered as well and given to Broadgreen and Mossley Hill hospitals. Contact Ann is you'd like to know more / get involved aasp12@hotmail.co.uk

Communications advice

logo

Has the lockdown made you reconsider your church communications? Has this been the time to move to an email magazine? You could use free options like  Mailchimp.com for great templates, which also gives you control over evaluation of who reads it and information on who clicks through to links. 

You can also adapt templates with images and text boxes. Contact our Communications Officer if you would like to explore this option and feel uncertain about how to proceed. 

If however you think this is the perfect time to up your game on your printed magazine, we have a new resource available. How to produce a great church magazine covers basics and tips including font and design. It encourages you to take stock and review where you are before moving forward, and gives advice on how to turn a basic newsletter into a professional looking publication. Download the pdf here.

Template web imageWe're also offering a service to churches who want to have a new website, to have use of our template website. So we've developed the look - but you personalise it with text and images. Get in touch if you would like to talk about this.

For any of the above contact communications@urcmerseysynod.org.uk

Children and Young People

See our section on resources and activities while they're at home.

Stay Connected

The URC recommendation is that church buildings should be closed unless for foodbanks, night shelters or a similar life saving reason.  However, you can still stay connected during this crisis – with us, with URC national office, with your church members and with your community.

PhoneFor various specific advice and resources, please see the links on the right hand side of this page if you're on a computer, or at the bottom of this page if on a mobile device.

Streaming services and other resources

The URC national team have created a web section which includes government advice, prayers, ideas and resources, lists of churches who are streaming services and how to stay connected through WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Visit their web section here

The URC has created a Sunday Service email, an additional radio-style / podcast service  with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. It contains an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns. There will also be additional services during Holy Week. To sign up follow the link on this web page.

For those of you without access to digital, one minister in our Synod has produced a booklet which includes prayers, readings and a reflection for each Sunday until 19 April.

Possibly adapt the resources including hymns, prayers, commentaries, devotionals, and personal discipleship via The Worship Cloud.

See a list of virtual church services here

Virtual Coffee Morning

Why not get your coffee morning fellowship to each sign up for Zoom and then you can carry on where you left off? Grab a coffee, meet around the sofa (s) and chat - without leaving home. Join the URC Mersey coffee mornings too. Drop in for a coffee and catch up with the news. Our themed half hour coffee mornings will be a nice break for you. Contact mde@urcmerseysynod.org.uk for Zoom codes. You can still take part without a smart device, you can phone in.

19 June – How to encourage others. 11am - 11.30am.

Reform online imageReform Magazine

For as long as people are shut up indoors, Reform magazine is free online. Please tell anyone who might like to know about this. Free, online copies of Reform can be accessed via the webpage at http://ow.ly/lBUW50yT73A.