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Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

Reflections from our first online discussions on what it means to be church on the margins during the pandemic.

Opening reflection by Carmel Murphy Elliott, with an introduction by Church Action on Poverty director Niall Cooper

Personal

  • Lots of people have been extremely busy for the last few weeks in the response, now feeling very tired, but settling down, new routines forming.
  • Personal loss/bereavement
  • Feelings of powerlessness

Reaching people

  • Service-users (e.g. homeless) don’t know what’s going on, don’t have access to information.
  • Concerns for people who are isolated alone.
  • People with no tech or phones – where are the gaps/ how can we reach people? (e.g. refugees and asylum seekers, the elderly).
  • Local community networks have suffered (again difficult to reach people who are not online).
  • We need to think small, focus on helping our neighbours.
  • Difficult decisions, e.g. closing foodbanks, running out of food. Others are still providing hot meals for homeless people.
  • Marginalised people are still facing the worst of this, access to food, etc.

Reflection

  • What will the ‘other side’ look like (when this is over)?
  • Envisioning the future ‘another world is possible’. Change for society.
  • Key workers (low-paid) are now incredibly valued.

Church

  • Theology of death (and life) needs consideration/attention.
  • More people are attending/taking part in online services than usual church numbers (it’s more accessible for people with internet).
  • Challenges for clergy – funerals and managing their own mental health.
  • Avoid ‘saviour syndrome’
  • The need for theological reflection  – now and beyond this.
  • We need to continue to be creative and include people after this.
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