Coronavirus is spreading an epidemic of fear though our country. As churches we want to counter fear with practical love and service, and we want to be prepared to give the reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).
‘We are the Church’ Posters
Churches in Birmingham have created a poster for members to display in windows saying: 'We are Church and we are here for you’ as a reminder of the presence of the scattered church in every neighbourhood. HOPE Together has created this poster and social media images which any church can use to show that the Church is alive and ready to serve.
Good Neighbours scheme
As well as the Government's GoodSamApp initiative, there are lots of examples of people setting up good neighbour schemes. Tell us who is being a Good Samaritan in your area; how is your church supporting and serving your community at this time? We are collecting stories to share encouragement on social media - contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are making legitimate deliveries to someone who is self-isolating, we have created a photocopiable sheet of cards you can include offering support - with or without a copy of the Hope for All magazine.
As Coronavirus is contagious please wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing cards for delivery to homes. Also, use hand sanitizer as you deliver them, home to home, making sure you are spreading only kindness as you post through letterboxes.
Download the Help and Hope cards for use with Hope for All magazines
Download the Help and Hope cards for use without magazines
Download Help and Hope Logos for use with your social media and publicity materials
Loss and HOPE - COVID-19 Bereavement Support
Do you know someone who has been bereaved during this time? There are lots of ways you can help, summed up in three words: contact, listen and bless. Watch this short video to find out more. Loss and HOPE was launched just before the Covid-19 crisis to enable the Church to respond effectively with support for those who are grieving. This timely coalition between HOPE Together, Care for the Family, the Church of England and At a Loss, is developing support for the increased numbers of people who are bereaved at this time. Find out more about the church response at lossandhope.org and share the website AtaLoss.org as a source of advice on bereavement and loss.
United church response
We are better together than apart. Here are some of the ways churches can offer practical help and bring hope.
Respond as a church or a group of churches in your town, offering help and asking civic leaders for their priorities.
Set up a prayer relay involving different churches praying for civic leaders, medical staff and people in your area.
As chaplaincies, visiting schemes and community hubs are suspended or closed, redirect volunteers to Good Neighbour schemes.
Set up ‘phone a friend’ campaigns to combat the mental health issues that come with enforced isolation.
Ask local Residential Care Homes how you can provide support for staff and residents with no visitors, perhaps by phone, letter or cards giving encouragement.
While children are at home, can you provide online activities for families connected to your church?
Ask your local foodbank how you can help in the face of shortages especially as families struggle to cope when family-members can’t work. Does your foodbank need help to make deliveries to families who are self-isolating?
How is your community supporting rough sleepers while there are no cafes to provide a hot meal?
Be aware of safeguarding issues, especially with young people online. Here's a useful guide from the Baptist Union.
Creating virtual communities
‘Let us not giving up meeting together,’ (Hebrews 10:25) Let’s find creative ways of keeping in touch as virtual communities to encourage one another and people in our communities. If churches need to restrict our meetings, or older people are unable to attend, let’s find new ways to keep connected such as:
Be aware of who in your congregations has not got internet access or is not confident to use it. Find ways to include those who don’t have access to online communities.
Live steaming services on Facebook or YouTube - visit a beginner’s guide to going live with your service or event from the Church of England here
Whatsapp groups to encourage one another
Small groups using video-conferencing using Skype or Zoom
Helping people find hope
In a crisis people often look for spiritual answers. Use the Discover Bible App to read the Bible together in virtual groups. The app is powerful because it allows ordinary people to engage with scripture, become an obedient disciple and share their faith others. The questions are simple and memorable, which means that anyone can lead a Discovery Bible Study with anybody, anywhere.
As churches let’s be communities that spread hope, generosity and gratitude.