September is usually the month when everything starts again. Many of our activities pause for August and start up again in September. Except that this year is different. Most of our groups have not met since March and we don’t know when it will be safe for them to recommence.
We have been able to begin small services in church. From 22nd March, our Sunday services were online only for 17 weeks. That first online service was on Mothering Sunday. We discovered a few days earlier that no-one would be allowed in the church building other than myself and members of the Vicarage household. Now that our children have all left home that meant just my wife, Jacqui, and I.
I quickly worked out how to livestream using Facebook on my mobile phone, which was held by a rubber band onto an old tripod, that I used to use for photography 30 years ago, and off we went. After the service we distributed the flowers that had been provided for the service to the houses around the church.
The following week, we were advised that no-one was allowed into the church building, and so the service switched to the Vicarage dining room, again with just Jacqui assisting.
Then in July we were allowed back into the church building and Jacqui returned to the AV desk at the back of church to operate sound and vision. It has been good to be joined by our Curate, Matt, in front of the camera.
The purchase of a new camera has enabled us to provide better picture quality. We have experimented with sound and, if we make sure that nothing else is using the church internet, we can usually get an uninterrupted broadcast. (We did have problems one week when the church PC was trying to perform an online backup during the service!)
Last month we were allowed a small congregation, but the 10.30 service has remained online only. Each Sunday we have had a service at 3.00pm, either a Communion service or Refuel, a quiet reflective service. We are limited to around 25 people in the building at present and, as attendance at the service is growing, we are wondering whether to add a second service each Sunday afternoon.
With no singing allowed, no books, and the congregation all wearing face masks, it is different from our services before lockdown, but it provides an alternative to our online services.
Do join us on Facebook at 10.30 each Sunday morning (or later if you prefer) or in person on Sunday afternoons, but do check on the time of the afternoon service, as we may make changes at short notice.
We cannot start many of the things we would expect to at this time of the year, but as and when we can, we will reconnect with one another. In the meantime we remain connected to our God, who does not depend on our physical meetings.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.Isaiah 43:2
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Priest-in-Charge, St John the Baptist Purbrook
Curate, Church of the Good Shepherd Crookhorn
Chaplain, Havant & Waterlooville FC