A Shout Out to Chaplaincy

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” - 2 Corinthians 6:16 (NKJV)

Day 3 in the Big Brother house.

All the cake is gone and I’m down to the emergency coffee sachets.

The good thing is, my virtual coffee mornings with students don’t require good quality coffee as I’m the only one drinking it!

It has been said a lot but, to echo the sentiment, we are living through a very strange and uncertain patch in history right now.

Sunday 22nd March was the first time in living memory that, due to the Government’s attempts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through social distancing, churches and other places of worship were unable to meet together physically. This has been the case for churches across the UK, who are having to adapt to the times and hold services online via various social media platforms and are set to do this for the foreseeable future.

It makes me smile to see vicars and ministers all over the world now being tasked to talk to a camera as if presenting a TV show. Although social distancing is in place, it still feels highly personal to be able to see them broadcast into our living rooms, and to attend a service in this way. This new way of meeting together virtually has been praised by congregation members who may not have the ability to physically attend church each week regardless of the current global pandemic. This is also a kickstart in the outreach to a younger, more tech savvy, generation. It is also great for people like me – from a curiosity point of view – to be able to pop in and out of different services and morning prayer sessions and view different styles of worshipping. I am sure I am not on my own in this, but I have always struggled to feel connected with one ‘home church’.

This shift we are seeing at the moment towards a more electronic church, joining together as part of a wider community, with greater community outreach has been needed in the church for some time. Church should be a community and not an inward facing building. I work for a church and three university chaplaincies in Liverpool, and ‘Churchless Church’ is very much our thing as a network of believers - we are used to doing things differently! I am an advocate for Church not being just about where you sit on a Sunday morning, and I believe that we can see moments of God in the ordinary and the every day - every conversation and connection has the spark of the divine, a bigger plan. It can only be a good thing if the wider church is coming to realise this too.

As of a couple of weeks ago, students up and down the country are being faced with changes in assessments and the way they're being taught. Things are changing here for our students at the chaplaincy too. Coming up to Easter and the exam period we as an ecumenical chaplaincy team would be signposting each student to a place of worship and providing on-site pastoral and spiritual support for those who need it; providing opportunities for prayer, communion, liturgical themed services, community lunches, coffee mornings and crafts and working closely with the Student Development and Wellbeing Department. We would be 'doing church' without a building, open to everyone in the university community, anywhere and everywhere. Instead, we are 'doing church' online through our weekly online coffee mornings, a new positivity podcast, and morning prayer videos to name a few. It is an exciting time to see how chaplaincy and the church can adapt to keep including people, and keep coming together as the body of Christ in these unconventional spaces.

Written by Lilly Nelson. Lilly is an Anglican Chaplaincy Assistant for Liverpool Hope Creative Campus and an SCM Member.