Lockdown anniversary: How churches in Dewsbury have continued to serve the community in an unprecedented year
On March 23, 2020, in common with many other businesses and organisations, the Church in Dewsbury was forced to close its doors as a result of the introduction of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
In practice, this meant Dewsbury Minster was unable to continue to reach out to those in most need in our society with the offer of a free sandwich and hot drink each day.
Care Dewsbury, which ran out of Dewsbury Baptist Church and provided a hot meal twice a week, was also forced to close its doors.
Add to that the work done by other churches in the town, not to mention the effect of the restrictions on meeting together to worship, the times were all very uncertain.
Twelve months on and while many of our church buildings remain closed for public worship in an effort to help keep the spread of the Covid-19 virus down, the Church has adapted and learned some new things.
Many churches, including the Minster, which is part of the Dewsbury Team Parish, have moved online. Leaders have learned new technical skills by either broadcasting worship live via social media or pre-recording events.
Churches have witnessed new people joining in with their acts of worship from all over the world, as well as connecting with their existing members!
Small groups of people have learned to meet together to pray, study the Bible and share fellowship on the internet platform, Zoom. This is something we will continue to do even once restrictions are eased.
What about those who have no access to the internet?
Churches have been keeping in touch by regularly phoning round to check on the well-being of their members and members have been reaching out to their neighbours to offer support where needed too.
As some of the lockdown restrictions were relaxed, some churches were able to reach out again to those in most need.
Some of their members have played a key part in helping to establish means of distributing food to those in need. As our buildings have been largely unused over the last twelve months, we have been able to offer space from which foodbanks can operate.
Worship recommenced in a number of buildings before Christmas subject to limits on the numbers able to attend and with Covid-19 guidelines in place. Sadly, the further restrictions at the beginning of this year meant that some Churches took the decision to close again until it feels safe to re-open.
So, what of the future? The Church in Dewsbury is still very much alive and has been working on worshipping together online as we prepare to celebrate Easter in lockdown for a second year running.
The Church continues to pray for the people of our town and God has certainly been at work in helping us to think differently about how we engage with people, especially those who may have little or no understanding of the Christian faith.
We are looking forward to being able to worship together again as soon as it is safe to do so, and speaking in my role as Rector of Dewsbury Minster we look forward to welcoming you back into church soon, where we will also have Covid-19 secure space available to host small groups and events.
If you would like to know more about how the Church can look to help and support you, please contact your local church or send us a message on our Churches Together in Dewsbury Facebook page.