Churches are emerging from lockdown with a fresh spirit, says Archbishop
From live-streamed services to digital coffee mornings, lockdown has spurred churches onto new and exciting ways to offer ministry, Archbishop John said in a keynote speech today.
In his Presidential Address to members of the Church’s Governing Body, Archbishop John said the pandemic had brought unexpected opportunities and churches were emerging with a fresh spirit and a “can do” attitude.
For the first time ever, the Governing Body meeting is taking place online, due to the pandemic. Its 144 members, from churches across Wales, are meeting for four sessions over today and tomorrow which are being live-streamed on the Church in Wales website.
In his key note address at the start of the meeting, the Archbishop said: “You and I, and much of the world, might currently think of itself as emerging very slowly and with some hesitation, and with justifiable and abiding anxiety, from a dark exile, the exile caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. You do not need me to rehearse for you the radical and frightening components of that exile, but it will serve our purpose if I affirm that it has provided and continues to provide us, as a church, with unexpected opportunities to reflect upon our life and to it. There has been much talk in many quarters of a new normal, including within the church, and it affords us the chance to recognise what it might mean for us and to be excited by it. I might describe this as a happy accident, an unforeseen benefit of potential good emerging from a highly unpromising set of circumstances.”
Embracing digital ministry had enabled churches to be in touch with thousands of people, said Archbishop John.
“It would be naïve of anyone to believe that every hit upon every church website or Facebook page represents an individual participating from beginning to end of what is on offer, but it cannot be doubted that, in such ways, we have been in touch with thousands of people whom we might not otherwise encounter; we have touched their minds, hearts and lives, and in different ways we have revealed a church that is capable of walking alongside them, welcoming them and teaching them. This is newness and this must last.”
The Archbishop urged all the church to embrace change. He said: “I really do have a growing sense that new things which we have hoped for, some of the impetus which we have lacked, have been forced upon us by present circumstances, and that far form lying down and allowing such circumstances to overwhelm us, we are emerging with a fresh spirit and a growing ‘can do’ conviction which is renewing, rather than a ‘no way’ one which simply leaves it being relentlessly repeated.
“For this I rejoice; and I commend wholeheartedly all who are contributing to the renewal. And, to the reluctant I urge just two things: please trust and please try.”
Lockdown had also brought a greater sense of unity in the church, said Archbishop John. The Representative Body had stepped in to support churches financially, despite suffering a significant financial hit itself, and the six dioceses had been brought together with a renewed sense of purpose. A strategic group had also been set up, the Archbishop’s Consultation Group, to coordinate and plan for the future.
The Archbishop said: “The new group will be meeting regularly, focussing on what the church ought to be trying to do better, interrogating some of the structures which we have and which could be more sharply focussed, being realistic about quality membership for many of our provincial bodies, and finding opportunities to come alongside some of the institutions in our nation with whom we can work for the good of the people.”
The full text is available at www.churchinwales.org.uk