Life after Lockdown conference imageLife after Lockdown conference

Over 200 people from URC churches in the Northerly Synods met virtually over Zoom to discuss Life after Lockdown in early June.

Although the pandemic has caused grief, sadness and many difficulties, there was evidence that lockdown has also brought new opportunities, with positive results.

People from the Northerly Synods* – which covers wide areas from as far North as the Orkneys, down to Chester and beyond – felt that positive outcomes should be retained and built on as we move into a new normal.

Some ideas churches have been using in lockdown, which could be developed:

  • Phone conferences with Messy church
  • Unstaffed prayer stations in church gardens
  • Using a wide variety of online church services
  • Zoom prayer meetings (could be used in winter months)

Positive stories

One participant shared that they have a family who attend church around half a dozen times a year – ‘now they’re meeting with us online every week!’

For those who are joining worship each week in nursing homes – the carers are getting involved.

Moving forward

There were lots of opportunities in the conference to share, and, moving forward, people agreed with the comment, ‘Let’s do things better together online – services, coffee mornings, prayer groups – be ecumenical.’

One participant said, ‘This is a Pentecost issue – we need to speak in the language of people walking by on their mobile phones.’

That was repeated in other break out rooms, ‘We need to ensure that people are not marginalised, that they feel they still belong.’

‘We need to learn the language of our current time. We have an opportunity but we need to grab it.’

There were many practical ideas:

  • Make buildings look more open, modernise how they look – art, poems, happy to chat benches, up to date signage, make the outside welcoming

  • Look at recorded online school assemblies

  • See how home delivered meals can continue

  • Offer support for people grieving or struggling

  • Have ‘storytime’ in church

  • Help train those non-technological people 

  • Carry on smarter working to keep carbon footprint to a minimum

The ethos of the conference can be summed up in the words of one participant, ‘We have been out of our comfort zone – and maybe that’s where we should stay.’

*The Northerly Synods is made up of the following URC Synods: Mersey, North Western, Northern, Yorkshire, and the National Synod of Scotland.