By Stephen Cathcart

 

The press conference confirms it. Lockdown begins at 5pm. My mind jumps straight to live streaming, church Facebook page, church website, Zoom meetings – is the tech team ready for this lockdown? Are my tech skills still present? Do I remember how to operate Zoom?

Church is scattered. How do we help the church community sense their connection to one another? Naturally, our first thought is technology. This offers great connecting opportunities as we encourage comments and chat as we do church across streams and screens.

A thought begins to bubble and boil within the pastoral care team around a question – how do we care for the church community that we cannot see or meet with? After some thinking, the thought becomes solidified around the question – what about a ‘mum gift bag’? What about a bag with some little gifts that helps mums feel that they are being cared for, prayed for and thought of during their juggle of online school, refereeing children on screens whilst mothering and caring?  And many are also trying to work full- or part-time. 

So, a ‘mum gift bag’ is launched and delivered. This is greatly appreciated. The smiles are warm with gratitude as the mums opened their gifts. 

A thought stirs within the pastoral care team. What about a handmade cord-string gift bag filled with goodies for those children in primary, infants and pre-school? Numerous little bags are created in sewing rooms. The bags are filled with pencils, notepads and little knick-knacks for youngsters. What a delight to watch the unfolding of the bag and see the smiles on their faces. 

Then, it’s a gift bag for the dads. A gift bag idea develops for couples at home. Then a gift bag for those living alone. A bag that consists of a homecooked meal, crossword booklet, a lovely pen, chocolate bar, after-dinner mint and a few little surprises. 

Church is attached. Lockdown connection. A sense of community and belonging is sustained during lockdown through the various gift bags – through the incredible, hard-working pastoral care team.

Then, there is another idea, but that is probably better to share at another time.