Philip & Edward, Ministers
Chipping Campden Baptist Church
On the news of the first lockdown.
(Philip) It felt very sudden. We had activities planned which we had to stop. My initial thought was that this was going to be short-term — by Easter, we’ll be back. I had no idea it was going to be this long — I don't think anyone did. If someone had said at that moment that we won’t be gathering for a year, I don’t think I would’ve believed it. Nobody knew the extent of the pandemic at that point.
On maintaining the church community during this time of isolation.
(Edward) There was a lot of activism in the church. We have kept the food bank running with new volunteers stepping up to take the place of our older team members who had to shield. We had people committed to start a phone network to call and check on our members. We had to move everything online — our church service, youth and kids meetings. But we tried to keep contact with the church family, even if it meant only doorstep visits. This time has made us do things in new ways — partnering with St James' Church for the Christmas service as a gift to the town, as well as getting the church kids and youth to engage with filming a Nativity show which came together beautifully.
(Philip) The biggest impact on church life was the change in our Sunday gatherings — that is the glue that holds so much together. A lot of our pastoral care comes from seeing people at church. And during those times we were allowed to meet at the building, we had to wear masks and we couldn't sing together. I miss gathering with people but we have very much continued serving the church even if it was through the screen. The great thing is that during this time, we still have done many things — we have seen people come to Christ, we’ve done baptisms, we continued doing Alpha course online. Things didn’t cease, we just did things differently.
On leaving lockdown.
(Edward) We’ve had the time to reflect about what we do as a church—what has had its season, is there something we can start, what is working and needs to continue as lockdown eases? I think our community has understood our presence as a church far more this year. It’s made people realise that the local churches are connected to elements in society who are struggling and we are here to serve. We are glad to continue to be part of that.
(Philip) Some people will be desperate to go back to what it was like before, but some will be nervous. Some people will go for the freedom, but some will take time to heal from whatever they've been through. We’ve got to navigate all that and give the opportunity for people to recover from this year. It’s forced the Church as whole, in this country, to rethink what we really are about. At times, I’ve felt in my responsibility as a church leader, that I’ve failed. Other times, I’ve felt it’s gone really well. It ebbs and flows. But talking to the Lord about it, He says, “I’ve got it. Don’t worry.” Even through this time, we are trusting that He is doing good work. We remember it is His church, we are called to lead but ultimately it’s God who is in control.
To find out more about Chipping Campden Baptist Church, visit their website.