How churches have inspired public’s response to pandemic – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Maurice Baren, Haworth.

Columnist Sarah Todd's criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury has prompted much debate and discussion.

THE Saturday Essay (The Yorkshire Post, December 5) by Sarah Todd was entitled ‘Church has lost its way in the pandemic’.

With such a title I would have expected a piece of detailed coverage involving the work of several denominations across a range of locations over the county.

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However, we have the usual criticism by someone who states she only goes three times a year at the high festivals. Sarah tells us that ‘dog collars were taken off and the doors locked’ – the churches had no option but to lock the doors, that was a Government instruction, for our health’s sake, but the church did not close down. Instead in many, many places it took on a new vision – having services conducted through Zoom, Facebook and other forms of social media.

A church parishoner watches an online service during lockdown.

Paper copies of services were supplied to those who did not have access to computers, and arrangements were made for people to connect by telephone to the services. The ministry of the church is not only conducted by ordained staff, but be a whole range of lay and ordained ‘ordinary folk’.

In Haworth and Cross Roads, the clergy and laity of Baptist, Anglican, Catholic and methodist churches united to prepare and present worship every Sunday, and also on other occasions during the middle of the week using social media.

Both ministerial and lay folk kept in touch by phone, emails and in other ways to ensure that people were not isolated and forgotten. The local Baptist church became the host centre for a new local food bank, and various churches prior to the pandemic had already collected food items for the Salvation Army food bank in Keighley, and to support work carried out by the Shared Church in Keighley; people of many faith groups have also worked together to be ‘Good Samaritans’.

Sarah seems to be concerned that she does not know many of the hymns used today; there are many well loved secular songs from former years, but today most people sing songs of their generation, and likewise the church has many wonderful modern hymns and worship songs, but others that remind us of our social responsibilities.

There is even mention of ‘flirty old vicars’ – isn’t she aware that we live in different times, and of safeguarding and all that that entails?

It would be good to feel that if Sarah wants to be there for those three services each year that she also perhaps chooses to support the church on the 49 other Sundays.

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