As Easter approaches and churches stand empty Christians in Hackney are looking at ways to keep communities connected and fed. Reverend Alice Whalley spoke to Holly Chant about her church in Brownswood park and how it’s adapting to the Corona virus lockdown.
Members from The Parish of St John the Evangelist have already started a virtual compline or night prayer sung live on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm. They encourage people to take part and pray together despite not being able to gather in person.
But Reverend Alice worries about church goers who can’t access the internet.
She told the Gazette: “It’s the isolated, mostly older generation, for whom church is very important. Demographically, they make up the biggest part of the church of England but they’re also the people who aren’t able to use Facebook live or whatever else – it’s a challenge.”
She says the church’s community is about much more than Sunday services and is an important part of members’ social lives.
“It’s been a huge shift from working in a way entirely about seeing people in the flesh. A phone call or an email or a text to somebody is always second best to knocking on their door and having a cup of tea,” said the Reverend.
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She says people are only just getting their heads around not being able to worship together for Easter.
Still, the church community has shifted its focus and is working to make sure people in the area have enough food.
Reverend Alice said: “Churches have always, when the other systems start to fail, we’ve always tried our absolute hardest not to and I think that’s what’s important.
For us now, even though our building has closed, we have to reach out and jump in to other areas. So we will keeping feeding people. We can’t allow people to go hungry because of this.”
The Anglican parish continues to run a soup kitchen every Tuesday evening but now, instead of a sit down dinner meals and food parcels are given out in take away boxes.
The Parish of St John the Evangelist has raised almost £3,000 to support the most vulnerable in its community by offering food and self care parcels, looking out for the homeless, and supporting the community response.
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