Coronavirus Response


Coronavirus - thoughts about how churches can respond…

For great ideas, resources & advice from previous updates, please see the 'Archive' at the bottom of this page.

7.4.20

Important update about furloughing Ministers, praying for children, Sing Resurection and safeguarding for community volunteers...

Today's updates,

NEW: Coronavirus: A guide for churches as employers - UPDATE - This guide for churches looks at the new provisions in place to offer employers financial support in relation to employment costs during the coronavirus pandemic, now including provision for office holders (i.e. Baptist Ministers) More here.

NEW: 'Draw Back Your Curtains' United Prayer for Children - On Wednesday 15th April when you ‘draw back your curtains’ let’s stand united in prayer for the children. More details here.

NEW: Sing Resurrection - At 10am on Easter Sunday 12 April 2020 Churches Together in Britain & Ireland are calling on all who want to celebrate the resurrection to go outside and sing - take a look.

NEW: Safeguarding - Two new guidance notes for churches offering volunteer support services to their local communities. Read more here.

- Coronavirus Financial Support Scheme - Information about this new Baptists Together scheme for churches & Ministers - click here.

- Children's Easter Resources - written by Lynda Sanders, Children's Pastor from Truro Baptist Church... these are excellent! Click here to see them.

- Free Easter Resources - an online Easter resources page has been launched by Baptists Together and will be added to over the next week. Take a look here.

- Spring Harvest - Home, 13-17 April. This is a completely free online conference programme with content suitable for everyone in the family scheduled for the week after Easter and built around the 2020 theme of “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today". Details here.

- Free 'The Work of the People' video series and films - inspirational films for these times from some theological thinkers & permission to stream them in livestreams - details here.

Please particularly consider those who are not internet-savvy in your communities who may feel even more isolated if they become aware that all the support & communication that's being offerred is not something they can access. Please see the low-tech suggestions below to engage with those who find Facebook, YouTube, Skype etc. a mystery...

General Advice

  • * Current guidance from the U.K. government can be found here.
  • * Current advice for churches from Baptists Together can be found here.
  • * Download advice on Pastoral Visiting from the Baptists Together Ministry Department here.

 

What to do instead of gathering in person for worship

Consider the needs and ability of those in your congregation; who will be able to receive emails/texts/WhatsApp, who will be able to engage with internet-based worship, and who won’t?

For those who are technologically proficient enough to access the internet;

  • 1. Consider live-streaming an act of worship – a ‘how to’ guide is available here.
  • 2. Audio record/podcast a sermon/prayers etc. and email those in your church with a link so they can easily access them either on your church website or chosen podcast service provider.
  • 3. Video record a sermon/prayers etc. to upload to your church’s Facebook page / YouTube or Vimeo channel so they can be accessed whenever is convenient. (Be careful not to use copyrighted material).
  • 4. Email a suggested service outline so those in your congregation have the same bible reading, song suggestions (email YouTube links for worship songs), prayer outline, sermon notes and questions for consideration each week.
  • 5. Consider using Skype or Zoom for small group discussions through the week around your service theme. For a free online tutorial on how to use Zoom with your church, please click here
  • 6. If you wish, suggest to those in your church that they join in with the Sunday morning worship that will be shared through our Facebook page each week. ‘Like’ our Facebook page here.
  • 7. There is also video content including sermons on our Vimeo channel here. We plan to add more content to this channel over the coming weeks so please keep checking back for new material.

For those who do not have access to the internet or who would struggle with the above suggestions;

  • 1. Print out a Service Outline including bible readings, song suggestions (choose songs that are well known and maybe print out the words), prayer outline, sermon notes and questions for consideration each week. Post this either in person or using a postal service.
  • 2. If you are able, record sermons, prayers etc. on to CD’s or DVD’s in a format that will easily work in a standard CD or DVD player and post them to those who would like them.

 

Reducing Isolation & Pastoral Care

Possibly more importantly, the coming weeks may well lead to many feeling isolated and lonely which could adversely affect the mental health of a lot of people. Please take a read of this advice on how to cope if you’re feeling anxious about the coronavirus outbreak and how to look after your mental health and wellbeing if you’re self-isolating.

As churches we can act to reduce isolation and bring hope in to a situation in which many are experiencing anxiety and fear. Advice on Pastoral Visiting for Ministers during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here. Here are a few suggestions of things you might like to consider doing as a church to pastorally care for others,

  • 1. Keep in contact with others regularly; by text, email, WhatsApp but especially in more personal ways which avoid physical contact such as phone calls.
  • 2. Many churches have previously used ‘Prayer Chains’ where one church member phones another who then phones another, and so on, with prayer requests. Such a system typically led to short but meaningful conversations with all those in the Prayer Chain in a relatively short period of time. This prayer activity might enhance relationships between those in your church and reduce the isolation of those who live alone. Please note that permission to share phone numbers must be gained from all those who will form a Prayer Chain.
  • 3. Ask those from your church in whom you have confidence (maybe from your Pastoral Care team) to make an agreed number of phone calls to others in the church each day/week. Particularly contact those who are house-bound and/or who live alone to ask if they’d like someone to phone them, and how regularly they’d like to receive a call – please do not keep on calling people if they have declined your offer to do so! Try to keep the calls to an agreed, manageable length. Appoint a Co-Ordinator to whom any specific concerns can be reported by those making the phones calls.
  • 4. Consider agreeing times when those in your church will pray regularly as an active member of a dispersed community. Praying in this way can create a positive sense of connectedness to others which serves to remind us that we are an active are part of a community even though we are not physically together. You might like to suggest using a daily Prayer Office such as the morning, midday and evening prayers produced by the Northumbria Community which thousands of people from across the world use each day – take a look here.

 

Mission

We have huge opportunities in these difficult times to demonstrate what the Kingdom of God looks and sounds like to those in our communities. Please pray and ask God to inspire you with his heart for those in your neighbourhood. It is good and right that we should do this as communities of people rather than acting alone. Some of our ideas for mission might seem fine to us but might not be the best approach to take. We would encourage you to talk with the Deacons/Leadership Team of your church if you have ideas for mission so as to create a co-ordinated approach and so that potential difficulties can be avoided as much as possible. We would urge you to carefully consider how to keep yourself safe and not to engage in any activities that may compromise your own health or that of others.

But we’d also encourage those in our family of churches to be creative and inspired by God as we join with his mission, and to passionately give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, doing so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), especially in these times when so many are fearful about the future.

Here are a few suggestions that you might like to consider as churches in the weeks ahead,

  • 1. Post ‘I Can Help’ cards through letterboxes in your neighbourhood. Several community groups across the U.K. have produced such cards which offer help to those who are self-isolating and/or house-bound. They may include things such as picking up shopping, making a friendly phone call or posting mail on request. An example can be downloaded here. Please only post these cards if as a church you are able to respond to the needs in your area. Please consider carefully how you might manage the resulting acts of kindness, especially if money is involved associated with things such paying for shopping which you are voluntarily delivering etc.
  • 2. Make & deliver food boxes to those in your area. You might want to contact your local food bank to ask how food parcels are getting to those who would normally collect them but who are now self-isolating. You might decide to make up boxes of essential items (soap, tissues, toilet paper, sanitary products, basic food items etc.) to deliver to those in need in your community. Please especially consider those who are over 70 years of age who are likely to be advised to voluntarily self-isolate making shopping challenging, particularly for those who cannot use the internet.
  • 3. Consider making and delivering meals to those in particular need. Over the Easter holidays, families whose children receive free school meals will already face a challenge to eat. This will be made worse if the adults in the household are employed on zero hours work contracts which the present situation has rendered unnecessary meaning the household income will be significantly reduced. Now the decision has been made to close schools for an extended period of time this challenging situation is likely to be magnified still further, even though attempts are being made by the government to reduce the impact on these families. We can pray about this. But we can also act. Charities such as ‘Make Lunch’ help churches engage with this issue but you might find your local food bank or other local charities already have links with the schools in your area and have schemes in place which you can join in with.

Let’s recognise that we engage in these activities not simply because Christians are ‘nice’ but because they are tangible manifestations of God’s Kingdom in our communities which demonstrate his love and compassion for all.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

 

Nigel, Carl & Chris are contactable by email (email addresses here) or by phone on 01392 433533.

Archive

3.4.20

Easter resources for all the family, ideas for older people, how to care for your Minister in the current crisis and a new Table Communion video...

Today's updates,

NEW: Free Easter Resources - an online Easter resources page has been launched by Baptists Together and will be added to over the next week. Take a look here.

NEW: Children's Easter Resources - written by Lynda Sanders, Children's Pastor from Truro Baptist Church... these are excellent! Click here to see them.

NEW: Helpful webinars for churches - Current webinars available cover, 'Finance & Employment' and 'Managing Stress & Anxiety'. This page will be added to weekly.  Details here.

NEW: Caring for your Minister - Baptist Minister, Amie Aitken, offer some pointers when it comes to caring for Pastors in expecially challenging times. Read more here.

NEW: Ideas & Resources for Older People - from Anna Chaplaincy, please take a look at these ideas to help reduce isolation amongst those who can't leave their homes at present. Click here.

- Coronavirus Financial Support Scheme - Information about this new Baptists Together scheme for churches & Ministers - click here.

- Coronavirus: A guide for churches as employers - This guide for churches looks at the new provisions in place to offer employers financial support in relation to employment costs during the coronavirus pandemic. More here.

- Spring Harvest - Home, 13-17 April. This is a completely free online conference programme with content suitable for everyone in the family scheduled for the week after Easter and built around the 2020 theme of “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today". Details here.

- Free 'The Work of the People' video series and films - inspirational films for these times from some theological thinkers & permission to stream them in livestreams - details here.

 

31.3.20

Free video resources, financial and employment advice for churches + Q&A, and Spring Harvest online conference...

Today's updates,

NEW:  Bringing the Easter Message of Hope - Zoom webinar this Thursday 2/4/20 at 2pm with Ken Benjamin (Baptists Together President) to think about and plan together Easter online messages. Message Ken for the Zoom link via this webpage.

NEW: Finance and Employment Advice + Q&A Webinar - 31/3/20, 1pm This will cover the employer's guide for churches and the package of financial support for churches that were launched last Friday. Join the webinar here.

NEW: Financial guidance for churches from Stewardship here. Also see details of the Baptists Together Coronavirus Support Scheme here.

NEW: DBS ID Checks - for new alternatives to face-to-face checking, see here.

NEW: Free 'The Work of the People' video series and films - inspirational films for these times from some theological thinkers & permission to stream them in livestreams - details here.

NEW: Spring Harvest - Home, 13-17 April. This is a completely free online conference programme with content suitable for everyone in the family scheduled for the week after Easter and built around the 2020 theme of “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today". Details here.

- Managing Stress & Anxiety Webinar, Wed 1/4/20, 1pm - Baptist Minister Shaun Lambert will be leading this webinar and has recorded this video to introduce what he will be covering.

- Coronavirus Financial Support Scheme - Information about this new Baptists Together scheme for churches & Ministers - click here.

- Coronavirus: A guide for churches as employers - This guide for churches looks at the new provisions in place to offer employers financial support in relation to employment costs during the coronavirus pandemic. More here.

 

28.3.20

All of our mental health is affected by being in 'lock-down' to one degree or another. Many in our communities are experiencing stress and anxiety, including those in our churches. There are some great resources highlighted below to help address this... There's also some really important guidance about financial support, help for employers and advice on looking after temporarily closed church buildings...

Today's updates,

NEW: SWBA Diaries - Nigel Manges (SWBA Regional Minister, Ministry) introduces the very first episode of our new SWBA Diaries series... take a look at the video on this page or click here.

NEW: Coronavirus Financial Support Scheme - Information about this new Baptists Together scheme for churches & Ministers - click here.

NEW: Coronavirus: A guide for churches as employers - This guide for churches looks at the new provisions in place to offer employers financial support in relation to employment costs during the coronavirus pandemic. More here.

NEW: Guidance on looking after temporarily closed or unoccupied churches and church properties during COVID-19 from the Baptist Insurance Company - click here.

NEW: Managing Stress & Anxiety Webinar, Wed 1/4/20, 1pm - Baptist Minister Shaun Lambert will be leading this webinar and has recorded this video to introduce what he will be covering.

NEW: Mental Health: Renew Wellbeing Virtual Communities - While Renew spaces close temporarily due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Renew team are posting short videos Mon-Fri and a weekly blog update. These can be viewed on their website homepage here. They have also launched Renew Communities to help us connect virtually. There is a video available here with training manuals and prayer information also on the Renew homepage.

NEW: Daily Prayer Office videos, produced by Mike Sherburn, Minister of Watchet Baptist Church - take a look here.

 

26.3.20

We're increasingly aware that significant numbers of those in our churches and wider communities are not able to access the internet for various reasons. Today, as well as passing on important and helpful legal advice, we're going to suggest a few ideas you might like to explore to continue to engage with those with no internet access...

Today's updates,

NEW: Advice for churches on emerging legal issues from Anthony Collins, the Baptists Together solicitors - click here.

NEW: U.K. Government guidance for charities during the present cornonavirus lock-down.

NEW: Engaging and building community with those who cannot access the internet,

  • - Offline Services -  Print out a Service Outline including bible readings, song suggestions (choose songs that are well known and print out the words), prayer outline, sermon notes and questions for consideration each week. Post this either in person or using a postal service. Make sure someone phones those without internet access for 'after service fellowship'.
  • - Old School 'Podcasts' - If you are able, record sermons, prayers etc. on to CD’s or DVD’s in a format that will easily work in a standard CD or DVD player and post them to those who would like them.
  • - Prayer Chains... don't just use WhatsApp - Many churches have previously used ‘Prayer Chains’ where one church member phones another who then phones another, and so on, with prayer requests. This typically led to short but meaningful conversations with all those in the Prayer Chain in a relatively short period of time. This prayer activity might enhance relationships between those in your church and reduce the isolation of those who live alone. Please note that permission to share phone numbers must be gained from all those who will form a Prayer Chain.
  • - Zoom Dial Ins - If you have a 'paid-for' Zoom account, you will be able to give those at home a U.K. phone number that they can use to dial in to any of your Zoom meetings. They'll also need to dial in the unique meeting number. This function is covered in this 'Zoom for Churches' tutorial.

* Livestreaming church services with multiple participants without using a church building,

  • - James Brooks from Honiton Family Church has filmed this short video tutorial explaining how to livestream a multi-participant service from your own homes (i.e. not using a church building) – click here

 

22.3.20

Each Sunday we're going to 'Share' the service livestream from one of the churches in the SWBA family for those who would like to join us. Today we'll be sharing from Hope Baptist Church, Plymouth. Please 'Comment' so we know you're joining us if you're watching live!

Today's updates,

NEW: You can find today's Sunday Worship livestream from Hope Baptist, Plymouth by clicking here#SWBAfamily #blessed #hopenotfear

- We've filmed a simple online Communion Service that can be used at home. It will be available to access anytime here. We've added it to this page too... take a look!

- National 'Call to Prayer' - Sun 22/3, 7pm - join our national Prayer Gathering on Sunday evening - more info and the web-link to join in here.

- Awesome poem helping us reflect on the present situation we're all facing from the super-talented Mike Sherburn, Minister of Watchet Baptist Church, here.

 

 

21.3.20

There has been an explosion of creativity over the last week as churches have embraced new ways of sharing community and have begun producing some excellent resources. Check out some of the resources below produced by those in the SWBA family of churches,,,

Today's updates,

NEW: We've filmed a simple online Communion Service that can be used at home. It will be available to access anytime here. We've added it to this page too... take a look!

NEW: Beautiful Spoken Word video narrated by Karen Golder, Pioneer Minister from Breathe Communities, Penzance here.

NEW: Awesome poem helping us reflect on the present situation we're all facing from the super-talented Mike Sherburn, Minister of Watchet Baptist Church, here.

NEW: Tour of the Bible with Helen Paynter - Rev Dr Helen Paynter, Tutor at Bristol Baptist College is using her time at home to develop a daily vlog. She is taking a tour through the Bible and you are invited to join her. Details here.

NEW: Brilliant advice on social-distancing from someone who has almost 30 years experience... this is a great read - click here.

 

19.3.20

Today's updates,

NEW: Online Family Worship - Nick & Becky Drake have led Family Worship at Spring Harvest and alongside their family are live-streaming worship for families including action songs, all age bible teaching, and lots of fun! Join in live on Wednesdays and Saturdays 4pm (FBlive - find their page here) or watch afterwards on YouTube. Click here to take a look at their first session...

NEW: Parenting for Faith - resources and a free online course equipping parents to raise God-centred children & teens.

NEW: Filming Sermons for uploading to the internet - Christian film-maker, Will Reddaway (Torbay-based), is offering 1 hr of professional filming (enough for x2 20min sermons and 1-2 shorter videos to go out in the week) for just £65 which includes all editing ready for uploading. Contact Will by email here - will@wtrphotography.co.uk or phone, 07828490382.

NEW: Advice on Copyrights & Licences for Live-streaming church worship can be found in 'Keeping your church community connected'.

NEW: Financial Advice for churches during period of buildings closure from John Levick, the Baptist Together treasurer

NEW: SWBA ENews for March has been published today with stories to inspire & inform from across the South West - take a read here and sign up to receive ENews in the future here.

- National 'Call to Prayer' - Sun 22/3, 7pm - join our national Prayer Gathering on Sunday evening - details will be shared on our Facebook page... please 'Like' & follow us here.

- For a free online tutorial on how to use Zoom video conferencing to keep in contact with those in your church please click the following link on Friday 20th March – 10am, 2pm - https://www.zoom.us/j/7930148094 . More on Digital Tools for Churches available here (crowd-sourced ideas and info).

 

18.3.20

We have seen an unprecedented amount of activity amongst our SWBA church family in the last 48 hours as we find new ways to communicate with each other, care for each other and meet together virtually. We are not 'closed'... in fact we're finding some excellent new ways to be very much 'Open'!

Today's updates,

NEW: School Closures : implications for those receiving free school meals - see  Mission no.3 below.

NEW: National 'Call to Prayer' - Sun 22/3, 7pm

NEW: Keeping your church community connected - For a free online tutorial on how to use Zoom video conferencing to keep in contact with those in your church please click the following link on Wednesday 18th March – 10am, 2pm, 7.30pm, Thursday 19th March – 7.30pm or Friday 20th March – 10am, 2pm - https://www.zoom.us/j/7930148094 . More on Digital Tools for Churches available here (crowd-sourced ideas and info).

NEW: Notice about Online Sunday Worship for church members - an example from Totnes United Free. Thanks guys! PDF here & JPEG here.

NEW: Coronavirus Safeguarding Considerations

NEW: The Gift of Contemplation in the midst of Covid-19

NEW: Online 'Socially Distant' Worship Club - Rend Collective: Session 1 here, Session 2 - join LIVE on Fri 20/4, 9pm (via Facebook LIVE & Instagram) Also check out YouTube for loads of online worship, often with lyrics available so you can sing along...

 

16.3.20

Today the U.K. Prime Minister advised amongst other things that, “Everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas etc.” Although he did not mention church gatherings specifically, it would seem within the spirit of this advice to include them under this guidance and there has since been clarification in Parliament that religious groups should not gather together in person.

It is for Diaconates/Leadership Teams to consider the appropriate responses for their individual church. The above is offered to aid those discussions.