The resurrection will be Zoomed
By Ian Silvera, Account Director
The ‘Holy Week’ is Christianity’s SuperBowl, Eurovision Song Contest and FA Cup Final all wrapped up into one. It is, among other things, the final week of Lent and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day itself, otherwise known as Resurrection Day, when Christians believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead following his burial and unjust and gruesome crucifixion by the Romans somewhere just outside of Jerusalem.
Churches, therefore, usually expect their biggest crowds of worshipers – casual and otherwise – around this time of the year, while others decide to scoff down chocolate bunnies and chase around the back garden after hidden eggs.
The Church of England (C of E) and other Christian bodies, however, have suspended all public worship since the onset of the novel Coronavirus. Church buildings have been closed, including on Sundays, and clergy and parishioners have been urged by church authorities to be “model citizens” by following government guidelines on isolation and social distancing.
These lockdowns have provided a ecclesiastical headache: how do you keep the flock connected? In response, worship has gone online, with many churches streaming either live or recorded content on YouTube: congregants are being urged to tune in and worship from their own homes.
Many churches have in fact found that their content has reached far beyond the usual churchgoing crowd. Christ Church Cockfosters, a busy C of E church in North London, which usually sees 300 parishioners through its doors on a Sunday, has seen recent online broadcasts reach over a thousand views.
Church groups continue to meet over Zoom and churches are busy organizing support for the elderly and vulnerable in their communities. Many churches continue to be at the forefront of efforts to stock food banks and keep them open during the crisis.
There has been a steady decline in church attendance in recent years. Time will tell if the temporary move to cyber-church will stimulate a reversal of that decline. Easter Sunday, the church’s biggest festival, is likely to coincide with a peak in Coronavirus cases in the UK. Church leaders, most notably Archbishop Justin Welby, who has recorded his Easter sermon from his kitchen, will be keen to use the occasion to stress that the church is very much open for business, and that its Easter message of hope and renewal is uniquely relevant to these times.