During the past three months, we have taken the life of our church online, and especially through the communication tool called Zoom, in order to ensure that we can continue to meet together in worship, for conversation with God (ie prayer!) and each other (ie fellowship!), in study and learning and even for exercise.The task of creating the Lego rocket model that some signed up to during May has a greater significance as so many have joined in with zooming into a new orbit of encounter and togetherness! For those who receive our weekly notices by email, check out the amazingly full WRBC catalogue available on Zoom during a week – for w/c 29 June, there are seven ‘events’, alongside the Deacons’ Meeting, and there are two Beach Trip Zooms too!
WRBC – now online together has become a reality familiar to a considerable extent for many of us, but it is amazing to realise that, whereas most of us had never heard of Zoom in early March, we have now accumulated more than 100K person-minutes of engagement and connection through Zoom, yes, more than 100,000!Furthermore I realise that this is just on the church’s own account, when others have been making use of the 40-minute meetings that are available free to anyone to host chats or to bring groups together for meetings.
The chart above shows our Zoom activity day by day during the month of May.And this, alongside the overall figure of 100,000 person-minutes of our life online together, is an amazing testimony to the readiness of our church family to embrace the technology that keeps us connected. Thank you!
Two millennia ago, the writer of Hebrews wrote this in chapter 10: 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The restrictions of our own times, in response to the covid-19 global pandemic, were hardly in the writer’s mind, although there were other significant challenges in those days as the early church lived out its faith and witness against a backdrop of resistance and opposition, but yet these words have found their echo in our modern world. Zoom and its equivalents may not be for everyone, but it is really super that even those without access to the internet have been able to join by their landline connection our ‘No Internet Needed’ conversations – see them included above on the Fridays (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th)!
When we look more closely at the chart, it’s our Sunday worship that scores the highest for our online gathering, but it’s also encouraging to note the level of participation in the church members meeting (18th May) as well as in a surprise birthday party (31st May) – what a great occasion!
Of course we would rather not be needing technology to keep us connected, and now we can start to look forward with much anticipation to the day when we can safely and securely gather in person within the church buildings for worship and prayer, although the challenges to bring this about in ways that comply with the guidance are major. And yet we have also appreciated seeing people through Zoom connections who would not have been able to join us in the building. For some, it is the time of our meeting together in church that makes attendance difficult for various reasons, and that issue will arise for some as the restrictions of lockdown are eased, and the opportunities of regular life are available again. For some, it’s the distance of the journey that makes attendance impossible, or limited to just an occasional visit. We have regularly been joined by WRBC friends and previous members from other parts of the country, and indeed we have been privileged to welcome visitors from various other nations through our ‘living windows on the world’ – contributions from friends in Tur’an (Israel), Lezhe (Albania), Delhi (India) and more have so enriched our worship, fellowship and prayer together; we’ve learned about a couple from Ampthill Baptist heading to South Sudan with MAF (hopefully in September), and we have welcomed other worshippers from USA and Canada too.
For us at WRBC the phrases of our mission statement “Sharing life together, Showing love to all, Because Jesus is good news today” have come to express a fundamental self-understanding, and to summarise both a present reality and a future goal to which we are committed. But it’s surely found a new, unexpected and yet so richly meaningful dimension for many through our move online and sharing more than 100.000 person minutes in Zoom together!
Thanks be to God!