Updated: May 8
The last service held in the church before lockdown was on 15th March, the second Sunday of Lent. On 22nd March, the Sunday of the Holy Cross, there was no service; but the church was open. From 24th March the whole country was in lockdown. The churches were forbidden to open, by the government and by our archdiocese.
Some of the Orthodox churches held church services behind locked doors, which was permissible – and for the faithful these were sometimes recorded to upload online, or were “streamed” live online. In Palfrey we could not do this, Father John being of an age where he was not supposed to leave his house, and Father Emilian working and with his family in Sheffield. The challenge to the functioning of the community was real, and this at the most significant season of the Church year.
It was decided that services could be kept going in virtual meetings via Zoom. These were held every Sunday and in Great Week by Father John and Father Emilian; selected hymns, prayers and readings of Mattins and the Holy Liturgy were sung, shared out among different people. Attendance has been regularly around a dozen “households”. The contact with Church and community has been valued, and the chance for “secret singers”, and children, to be active in the services a real bonus.
Father John has also given talks on the New Testament in Zoom meetings.
The other task was to care for the church building. Although not in use for services, the church was tended by a few local parishioners, and the icons and other decorations kept up to date – particularly at Great Friday
and for Easter
Organisation apart, the real challenge was the many people who were suffering in the difficulties of the lockdown: to keep in contact with the lonely and give practical help to those who needed it. Of course, many people were aware of this, and did their best.
Finally, money! The offerings of the faithful when they come to church completely disappeared. Some regular gifts continued, and some donations, but the fact is, as with so many organisations, our income went right down. Something to bear in mind!
NB. The Zoom meetings have been open to all. They will not continue on Sundays after the end of lockdown, but possibly we will be using Zoom in the future. Anyone who wishes to be informed about Zoom meetings should contact the office, using the form below.