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‘Church isn’t a building, it is a community’ - Churches using social media to carry on worship during coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 08:15 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:15 18 March 2020

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Churches will be using social media and the internet to comfort worshippers and bolster community spirit as the country goes into coronavirus lockdown.

Soul Church senior pastor Jon Norman and his wife Chantel, who lead the Soul Church on Mason Road, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Soul Church senior pastor Jon Norman and his wife Chantel, who lead the Soul Church on Mason Road, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Major changes in the way people pray and how churches support vulnerable people are being brought about after prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to stop non-essential contact and social gatherings.

Jon Norman, senior pastor at Norwich’s Soul Church, said all of his services from now on will be broadcast through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube until the disease is under control.

He said: “Church isn’t a building, it is a community. We might be isolated from one another but we are not isolated from our faith. Every crisis comes to an end. I think crisis helps us with our priorities and gives us time to reflect on friends and family. I believe we will come out the other side.”

“If people feel vulnerable or alone and need to talk to us head to www.soulchurch.com or call 01603 488880.”

He urged people to continue donating non-perishable food items, which can be left outside the church on Mason Road, for vulnerable people.

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Another church which has put its services, prayers and community resources online is St Thomas’ Church (STN), which has three Norwich bases.

Rev David Lloyd, acting priest in charge at STN, said the church would record Sunday sermons, podcasts, give out activity ideas for people who are self-isolating and allow people to upload prayers through its Roots project on www.stn.org.uk

Its crisis care team is also giving out food through donation drop-offs and practical support by calling 01603 624390.

Mr Lloyd said: “It is about being stronger together outside the hour on a Sunday. The church has a role to play in helping people express their anxieties and fears in prayer. We will recapture the role of looking after the vulnerable.”

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice but churches should be open where possible.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, said: “It is with an immensely heavy heart that the Church of England has suspended public worship. We will be learning new ways to be Christian communities of love and service to the people of Norfolk and Waveney.”

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