- Together Apart
- Next Gen
Whilst many churches have been producing useful online resources to try to connect digitally with new people during lock down, many people have also been taking the opportunity to get to know their neighbours more during this time.
When lock down struck, Rev Ruth Clay, Curate at St Mary’s Church in Bushbury, decided to take the opportunity to get to know her neighbours some more. Here is Ruth’s story:
Whilst we do our on-line activities for those that can access them, I’ve also been challenged about how we reach out to local neighbours. On Maundy Thursday, we observed the great turn out for the NHS clap in our street, so we decided to follow it up on Good Friday with an invitation to our neighbours to sing amazing grace. We would include no epilogue or street preaching – just a “dare you join us?” invitation along with the lyrics to the hymn in a nice newsletter format which we posted through 20 doors.
I added a contact number in the letter with an offer of help if anyone needed it and so on. We were astonished to see 11 families join in!
In order to build on this momentum, we then followed this up the following week with one of our neighbour’s rewritten-for-the-covid-era version of a 60′, song, ‘We Shall Overcome”, which was led by a guy over the road with a guitar!
We shall indeed overcome (there are usually subliminal gospel messages of course!) and whilst it’s not Hillsong or Rend Collective, it seemed to be familiar enough for around 25-30 of those that live around, to join in from their doorsteps.
Last week we posted another newsletter through the same 20 doors, which time pointing them to the beautiful creation all around us and the words of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. To see 27+ people stand on the end of their front gardens singing, was really moving.
In between the weekly doorstep sing-a-longs, we have organised a plant swap which morphed into a childrens’ book swap and then even jigsaw puzzles arrived! Each time people run or walk past, they have the chance to stop and think of who they might get something for or what they would like. It’s all free.
So many people have stopped and chatted and I even had a lady call round to ask for some plants for a 93 year old, who had asked her to beg borrow or steal plants for him. He’s been inspired by Captain Tom and others I think, to start a little flower bed. I happily obliged along with a card and contact details…word is getting out…there are Christians on the block.
Of course, such tiny gestures aren’t guaranteed to bring fruit, but as we see people emerge from houses and say hello who do not usually come out in normal times, people from other roads come and ask what the singing is all about. We then see other people get inspired to do acts of kindness for each other and I think we see glimpses of kingdom coming.
There are now so many people I could have a chat with in a deeper way that I couldn’t before Covid struck. Let’s take our opportunities in ways which work for us individually and spread the good news! Building friendly, generous relationships with no strings, stirring up people to think beyond themselves towards God and others, can only bless our little road as we keep praying for our neighbours.