Some 100 USPG supporters logged on for our second Partners in Global Mission Webinar, ‘Presence, Provision and Prayer in the Pandemic’, which took place on Thursday 2 July. The webinar specifically focused on what the Church in the UK had learnt since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and how it was responding to it. Despite the webinar’s British context, USPG supporters in Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the USA joined in.
Dr Jo Sadgrove, USPG’s Research and Learning Advisor, chaired the webinar. The speakers were Dr Anne Richards (the Church of England’s National Advisor on Mission Theology, New Religious Movements and Alternative Spiritualities) and the Rev’d Canon Malcolm Rogers MBE (Vicar of St Gabriel Huyton Quarry, Area Dean of Huyton and the Bishop of Liverpool’s Canon for Reconciliation).
In his presentation, Malcolm spoke of how the pandemic had made the Church relearn the lessons of the importance of self-care. ‘I’ve experienced cries for support and help – and exhaustion like I’ve not experienced in the 24 years I’ve been ordained,’ he said.
Anne then spoke about the impact the pandemic has had on people’s spirituality, especially amongst those who do not normally go to church or claim to have a Christian faith. ‘I do always get quite a lot of inquiries,’ she said, ‘but this has really exploded since the UK entered lockdown in March. What’s interesting about the inquiries that I’m having now is the urgency of spiritual searching.’
‘The speakers reminded us, the Church, of the need to relearn the language of lament,’ said the Rev’d Canon Richard Bartlett, USPG’s Director of Mission Engagement. ‘Through pastoral and spiritual care, we must build bridges with the ‘churched’ and ‘unchurched’. It is through these connections that the language of lament and of hope are being learned together.’
‘Initially, what was striking was the gap between the experience of those in churches reaching out to the community and the individual spiritual seekers coming to ideas of prayer after reflections on their experiences of lockdown – and wanting help and guidance,’ said USPG’s General Secretary the Rev’d Duncan Dormor. ‘However, the pandemic is creating a blurred space in which some traditional churchgoers are questioning what they have always done and what “being Church” means, while some outside the church are asking questions that (perhaps) the church should be asking.’
Watch the video of the webinar:
Or listen here.