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Youth & Children Work – Virtual gathered Youth Group

Leo (CYDO) writes, Youth work is all about relationships – but how can you maintain those relationships when you can’t meet with your young people? It’s important that they have the opportunity to talk about how they feel, what they’re experiencing and how they’re coping and that can be done with phone calls, texts and internet messaging (ensuring you comply with Good Practice guidelines, of course!

But it’s also important that they feel connected to each other and the Church, and that they have some fun. That was the point of starting Gathered Youth Groups, where small groups of young people come together regularly to meet with each other in a Mission partnership.

And the lockdown isn’t going to stop us – what can be more gathered than a virtual youth group? Next Tuesday (April 7th) at 7pm young people from all over the synod can take part in a treasure hunt using Zoom – a digital conferencing application.

The CYDO will be setting the task to find some common, and less common, household objects. First one back to the camera with the object gets a point. If you have young people in your church (or family) who might want to take part, email Leo at cydo@nwsynod.org.uk and he’ll send you the link so that you can share it with your young people.

Leo will be running a Virtual Gathered Youth Group each week during the lockdown – so share the details when you get them but, remember, a phone call is better than an email or a text for connecting with your young people individually – don’t let them feel isolated, and keep those relationships going.

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Good News stories from Central Area

Westhoughton (Bethel) URC

Lisa writes: Westhoughton URC have set up Bethel Buddies.  All the congregation have been invited to be a part of this network.  We have shared everyone’s contact details within the network and have a what’s app chat going n where people are keeping each other entertained with musical pieces they are recording and good wishes to each other.  Also keeping each other abreast of any issues we are facing.  We are also circulating a newsletter with a weekly sermon, prayers, important corona virus information and other good news stories.  It is our virtual link while we cannot be physically linked!

New Chapel URC (Horwich)

Linda writes, ‘At New Chapel I am in constant touch with the majority of our congregation by email and phone the others to make sure they are ok. I also ring other people too, to check they are ok – as do so many others in our fellowship.

As part of the emailing I am sending the Sunday Services which i have prepared, in all their fullness, and have had a very good response. I will be doing the same for our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services and hope that many join in with the M T Service as we combine it with a supper, so we could do it at the same time on the Thursday teatime and feel that we are one together.

As we are such a close fellowship I believe we are constantly in each others thoughts and prayers, and that we pray for the whole world.’

Egerton United Reformed Church

Roma writes: Due to Egerton having a mainly older congregation the elders agreed to set up an email Church Blog, having acquired many addresses we commenced sending out emails prior to Mothering Sunday, the responses were over whelming sending each other loving wishes and happy photo’s which has continued over the following days, a copy of these wishes has been posted to those without email. We have made sure that each person who lives alone has contact with at least one person who will carry out any task they cannot do themselves. 

Information about church services and URC daily devotions has been circulated and prayers asked for those who need them especially at this time. The Pastoral Visiting team has quietly carried on the important work of support and friendship by phone. Holy week reflections will be emailed during the week. 

The love and care we have for each other, the families of health workers within our fellowship, the community and the wide world has in the present situation brought us together in a way that is immeasurable.

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East Cheshire and Derbyshire Borders still connecting during this hard time

Rev Alison Termie writes: The East Cheshire and Derbyshire borders gave away more that 100 bunches of daffodils to passers-by over the Mothering Sunday weekend.  They were left in pots attached to railings with the message:” Because we were unable to meet for Mothering Sunday we hope that you would take some flowers and know that we were remembering you and our community in our prayers.” One of our gardeners delivered to me a box of seed potatoes ready for planting and under a poster saying:” a gift from me to you”, people were encouraged to take a few and plant them for fresh veg in July.  The whole boxful has been slowly taken throughout this week. We hope that lots of young gardeners are getting their first experience of ‘grow your own’. 

Many of our church members are volunteering with Marple mutual aid, delivering food and medicines to isolated individuals. All our members are keeping in touch with friends and neighbours to give and receive help in this way.

Each church has set up a whatsapp group to try and link up as many of their people as possible with chatter and pictures. ( I am a member of ALL the groups so my poor phone is nearly expiring). We gathered spare smart phones  that have been lying in the back of cupboards, from the congregation  and using the giff gaff friends scheme.  We acquired new sim cards, preloaded with £5 credit and give the phones to those who are not on line. Furthermore we have held elders meetings and prayer meetings by Zoom and worked out new ways to deliver our magazine and given paper copies of a booklet, containing morning readings and prayers to many of our non- technical members…….  and there was evening and there was morning the sixth day. 

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Northern College Worship on Zoom

Nicola writes, during term-time, Tuesdays at Northern College are the time students and tutors come together as a community to worship, study, eat and be with one another. We travel to Manchester from across England, from Wales and from Scotland. In this current time of lockdown, we are unable to do so. Instead, we are staying in our homes and coming together through Zoom.

Last week, I found myself smiling widely, as more and more friendly, familiar faces popped up on the screen. At the beginning, we took the time to ask one another: “How are you?” We really wanted to know about each other’s well-being, how each of us are getting on, how we are spending our time, how we are feeling and experiencing lockdown. Because each one of us, together, are affected by lockdown.

In spite of our many different locations, this togetherness was deeply present in our worship service when we:

Lit a candle. Together.

Listened to the Bible readings. Together. 

Prayed the responses to the prayers of intercession. Together.

Laughed at the technical glitches. Together.

During this current time, we may not be able to come together physically as the Body of Christ. But the Body of Christ has always included a wider and deeper community: those who go to the church building; those who are housebound or in care homes; those who are at work, play or rest; those who are parts of our local, national and global communities. Indeed, in the Body of Christ, each and every one of us has a different and unique part to play, and yet we are unified through God. A God who is with all of us and within all of us every moment of every day.

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Revidge Fold beats ‘Corona Chaos’ on Mothering Sunday!

Elaine writes, every year, on Mothering Sunday, we give small bunches of daffodils to our congregation during Morning Worship. I’m sure many of you do likewise.

This year, ‘Corona Chaos’ certainly stopped us in our tracks and prevented our small but vibrant congregation from meeting under one roof on Mothering Sunday.

Not to be deterred, a few of us set to and hand-delivered the daffodils to the homes of all members of our church family. Fortunately, over 50% of folk live within a reasonable walking distance of our church building and, for those who live further afield, we were still allowed to make those ‘non-essential journeys’ in our cars.

It was a joyful experience to see the look of amazement on people’s faces as we greeted them on their doorsteps. We’ve had many phonecalls letting us know how much pleasure those few daffodils have given and how the message on each attached label, from Psalm 121, has brought comfort and hope to many of our folk in these uncertain times.

Our electronic gadgetry and social media are amazing in helping us to keep in touch with each other, aren’t they? Particularly in this weird world in which we currently live.

But what if you don’t have the internet or don’t use email or Facebook or Zoom or any of those other wonderful apps? Especially if you live alone.

As the politicians and the medics are allowing and encouraging us to take some outdoor exercise, a daily walk to post a few printed sheets through a few doors isn’t going to be frowned on, is it?

For our Revidge Fold folks who don’t use computers and would far rather read paper copies of documents than electronic ones, we printed off the scripts for our Palm Sunday and Good Friday services and hand-delivered them so that everyone in the congregation can take part in our ‘virtual services’ on those special days this Eastertime. 

The benefits of having ‘walks with purpose’ are far-reaching!