“What can we do?” has turned from an expression of helplessness to one of investigating the possibilities, and we welcome the positive attitude of many who have embraced change. Increasingly we realise how the Lord has been leading and helping us operate in a changed world.
It is important for our testimony that we are seen to be acting responsibly
In Newcastle we were concerned that the hall was closing for normal meetings just at the time that our neighbours, many of them elderly, were being told to isolate. We did not want to be abandoning the neighbourhood in their time of need, but neither did we want to be seen as disregarding the Stay at Home regulations. Our young people volunteered for the national scheme thinking they would be called to help in the local area, but heard nothing more about that. Plan B for Bank Holiday: we baked ‘stay safe’ scones each holiday in May and put them in bags on a table in front of the hall. It was not long before we realised that we had had more communication with the neighbourhood with our doors closed. We reflected that the Lord said “go out”, not “build a gospel hall and open the door”.
As soon as churches were allowed to open for ‘private prayer’, we put up a notice outside the hall to say that we were open for private prayer on Friday afternoons. The Friday afternoon drop-in that had been running for several years assumed a new importance as the only advertised activity to be held in the building for a short while.
We did not want to be abandoning the neighbourhood in their time of need, but neither did we want to be seen as disregarding the Stay at Home regulations
With many elderly people in the assembly shielding or being very cautious, the younger members of the assembly have taken on the responsibility of opening the hall to view the church online gatherings and include those who do not have internet at home. In doing so they have become masters of safe seating arrangements, one way systems and the sanitising of chairs and handles, all in accordance with the updated risk assessments. This experience has helped the church hold a Saturday afternoon fellowship in the hall garden.
It is important for our testimony that we are seen to be acting responsibly, so we are very thankful to those who volunteered to help us continue in our service for the Lord. In the current restrictions we are having to find new ways of serving, but we know that God will reward us in heaven for all service rendered. So what can we do today to serve him?
Peter Stoner, The Church of God in Newcastle