‘Church gives hope despite what’s going on’

'Prayer is very important in a crisis situation' as online church services increase in wake of coronavirus pandemic

A DEVOUT Christian is of the opinion that the coronavirus pandemic is “the beginning of the end times.”

Ros Burke has been a church regular for nearly two decades and is certain that the church has a major role to play during – and well after – the pandemic has disappeared.

She currently attends The Bridge Church in Woodford, East London and told The Voice: “These are not the end times as people keep on saying. I think it is more the beginning of the end times. All this means that people are more focused on God.”

Now as the world creaks in the wake of coronavirus she believes that hope is all the world has right now.

She added: “I think we are in a crisis situation and the church is very important because they are the ones that are the hope givers.

“The church allows us to remain with hope despite what is going on in the world.

“Maybe when this crisis is over, more people might actually want to walk into a church. That might be the blessing that comes after the trauma of coronavirus is over, it might just bring more people to the church.”

The church has been one of the victims of coronavirus. The Government has put an end to mass gatherings in a bid to quell the highly infectious disease.

The Bridge Church have countered the fact that people cannot physically attend church by providing an innovative online platform via YouTube.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Pastor Chris Scott during an online service

“Church is now online but in a different format. On a Sunday morning we can watch our pastor Chris Scott, with his wife and another colleague via YouTube, said Ros.

PRAYER

Hundreds of people are logged on at any given time as prayer, in dark times for the world, becomes increasingly relevant.

“It looks like a chat show but in a living room scenario. It’s live with them talking to you while I am watching from my sofa. They deliver the Word, prayer and comfort,” the churchgoer adds.

“There is no singing unfortunately but they do suggest what music to listen to. We can stay on YouTube and listen to the songs we would sing as if we were in church.

“The sermon is pre-recorded and that normally delivers a good message of comfort and reassurance.

But church, like life, is and always will be about people.

She explains: “You miss the fellowship. You miss the people that you are normally sat next to but you understand why you can’t be in church right now.”

The coronavirus outbreak has ensured that the world will never be the same again. ‘Attending’ church online will possibly be the norm sooner rather than later.

Recently the Archbishops of Canterbury and York called for Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and become a “different sort of church” in the coming months to face the challenge of coronavirus.

In a joint letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said it was now necessary to put public services on hold until further notice.

But they said that far from having to “shut up shop”, the Church of England must face the challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving others.

MEASURES

It comes after the Government announced unprecedented peacetime measures to try to control the spread of the virus, with restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.

CALL: The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu

The pair invited clergy to maintain the ancient pattern of daily prayer and, where possible, the eucharist – live streaming their worship if they have the resources to do so.

“Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday”

Archbishops of Canterbury and York

And they urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable during the crisis.

“Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead,” they wrote.

 “Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.

“We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support. 

“I see more people watching church online in the near future. Non church goers are very conscious of going to church physically, so now they can observe church from the comfort of their homes and still be touched by it,” says Ros.

“Technology is really good. We live in a modern world. I didn’t think it would be as interactive.

“Your still able to relate and the service can still touch you as if you were sitting in the church itself.

“The online service gives you a boost. You are at home so you are able to absorb more whereas sometimes, if you are in church, you can get a bit distracted, if for example, people have their little children making noise.

“You can send messages via Facebook (during the online service). They actually have the messages come up on the screen, so we know who is watching and how many people are online.”

Visit: www.thebridgechurch.org.uk

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