Seeking to be Good Neighbours in Orkney
By Tim Proudlove, Minister of Kirkwall Baptist Church
Orkney hasn’t had many confirmed cases of the virus, but many people have self-isolated with possible symptoms, and we are locked-down with the rest of the country.
In terms of our ‘gathered’ church activities, we have switched to live-streamed services, daily podcasts involving different people each day, recording of CDs, home Sunday school, young people zoom calls and videos, zoom book group, Facebook connect groups, Whatsapp small groups, zoom fellowship times, and remote prayer meetings. In particular, we are encouraging our church family to be on the phone regularly, making and keeping connections with each other.
In terms of our ‘scattered’ church activities, we are primarily seeking simply to be good neighbours in our families, workplaces, and communities, and some folk are part of the Orkney-wide mutual aid group. In terms of ministries that we are involved in, we have moved to a socially-distanced food bank, zoom vital talk counselling, telephone Orkney Christian healing, remote 24/7 prayer, post and telephone memory cafe, and Easter story videos for local schools. One particular problem up here is that it is difficult for people to travel from south for burials, and therefore we have been asked to help provide volunteer pall-bearers to assist the local funeral director.
As with most churches, we find ourselves acutely aware that folk who don’t normally attend our services are ‘tuning in’ on-line. We are therefore working to make our services seeker-friendly, creating testimony videos from folk in our congregation, continuing Christianity Explored through zoom, and testing on-line Alpha. While this is a difficult time, we are very excited to have seen a couple of people come to faith in Jesus and request to be baptised when we start meeting together again – thank you God.
Looking for Ways to Bless Ellon
By William Butchart, Minister of Ellon Baptist, Aberdeenshire
As a church we have sought to ensure that we can still encourage one another in our relationship with God and with each other and hope we can share the hope of Jesus with those around us in these uncertain times. We have adjusted everything to try and help this happen. We have moved our morning service to Facebook as a live broadcast and plans are in place for a Sunday evening study on Philippians. We have altered our house groups and prayer meetings from alternating weeks to weekly to give opportunity for prayer but also social contact and encouragement and are using Skype and other video services to make these happen.
The aim behind these is to remind one another of the hope of Jesus in these unusual times and also address as best we can the social disconnect that is occurring alongside increased vulnerability that people struggle alone. We are looking to use Skype and zoom for various opportunities to further connect together too. Our church building is currently being used as a distribution centre for the Foodbank which we are working with to do deliveries to people in need. We continue to look for ways to bless and encourage the community and share the hope of Jesus with those around us.
Growing As A Community Of Faith
By Eder Goncalves, Minister at Leith Baptist Church
Greetings from Leith Baptist Church to all the Scottish Baptist Family and beyond. It has been an incredibly challenging time for us, however, it is also a time of great opportunity for us to grow as a community of faith.
The first weeks were reactive and rushed. Our main objectives were to find our feet in these new and uncharted waters and ways to keep our people digitally and relationally connected. After exploring different ways to make sure the most vulnerable in our fellowship could be supported, we looked for a way to express who we are in an online platform.
The church is re-organised into several small groups called “HUBS”, virtual house groups. The word hub was chosen because it speaks of our mission and purpose which is “to be a hub filled with the presence of God”. Some hubs are meeting on Zoom once a week, and we have a whole church weekly Zoom virtual prayer meeting. Attendance is very encouraging.
“Mornings of Grace” is a live morning devotional which takes place weekdays at 8 am. We have online support, for parents and carers who come to our weekly toddler group. Over 50 crafts bags with Christian material were distributed to families around our church. A table placed outside the church has bibles, Christian books, CDs and flyers so people can help themselves. It is incredible how quickly the material needs to be replenished!
Our pre-service church prayer meeting continues at 9:30 am live on Zoom and has more than doubled its attendance. Engagement with our pre-recorded church services has been very encouraging. Afterwards, we have live fellowship, followed by kids’ church both through Zoom. All is going well!
Lastly, we are starting a series of live interviews on Facebook and YouTube to promote hope! “Hope for today channel”. We are now moving from reactive and survival to planning and thriving.
Everyone Has A Part To Play
By Stuart Lawson, Minister of Oban Baptist Church
Whist the COVID-19 situation has undoubtedly placed pressure on how we ‘do’ church, it has also been such an encouraging and innovative time for the OBC family. Technology has played its part, moving our Sunday AM services online, comprising of worship (which was filmed specially for this time the night before the lockdown was introduced!), prayer and teaching. We’ve invited the congregation, both young and old, to film specific Scripture readings which are then edited into the iMovie Sunday Service, and different families are introducing the service each week via video from their smartphones. We’ve also become much more intentional in our daily engagement, posting daily devotionals to Facebook and disseminating them through our email list.
By the grace of God, we distributed the new church directory to the OBC family just before this all unfolded, and so along with picking up the phone to each other we’ve invited everyone to pray for the next five people below them on the list – we’ve heard many encouraging stories of how much this has meant to people, knowing that they are being covered in prayer during this challenging time. We canvassed the local neighbourhoods just before the lockdown with an emergency contact number, offering support to anyone who might need it over the weeks ahead, and through this we’ve been able to serve isolated people in the community with shopping and prayer.
We’ve also entered the final year of our three-year (one chapter a day) journey through the Bible, and as of the 13th April begun our journey through the New Testament. This has become the focus for our daily devotional on Facebook, with everyone able to add an observation from what they have read, using one of the five questions central to Big Life Discipleship. We hope to progress to Zoom prayer meetings in the coming week, and we’re constantly looking to other churches for inspiration!