God is not in lockdown

The Reverend Doctor Emma Loveridge was talking to Lay Reader Hilary Harron in her local village.  Hilary had been receiving a lot of feedback that the wider community was feeling abandoned by the Church of England in rural areas, given the greater social importance of the church in the countryside.  They felt that more visibility was needed.  So she got permission from her rural dean to use a tree in the churchyard as a prayer tree.  The reaction from the community was extraordinarily supportive for the visibility of life at the heart of the rural community.  The idea of decking the lychgate with solar lights came from a group of children.  Although the associated church is redundant, the churchyard is still kempt and falls under the remit of a wider group of rural parishes which continually seek ways of reaching out.

 This led to questions around what could be done in the wider community, not just with the worshipping community, to engage with the Parish as a whole and keep it in mind.  The clergy has done a remarkable job online for services and being available to so many of the needy in the parishes, but it is very difficult to reach everyone and fulfil the Church of England’s primary aim of being the visible presence of God everywhere.  Conversations began around what was possible, particularly in the countryside where many have no internet or there is insufficient broadband width, and it is remarkably dark at night.  The aim was to create a movement with the following aims:

To stay within the Government and Church of England guidelines

Be straightforward for any parish in the land to create a swathe of light

Be in the spirit of drawing light from dark times

The idea is to enable people to reach out and feel they are touching those who are beyond reach, giving a public message that God is not in lockdown.  It is also intended be part of national conversations around the primary aim of the Church of England to bring the presence of God to the whole nation and how we can think about that going forward.  Although the clergy has stepped up and been remarkable, there is a still wider conversation to be had about how we fulfil who we are as the Church of England in times to come.