Lessingham’s low tech worship solution
Worshippers at Lessingham Methodist Church are able to join together for worship on a Sunday during the current lockdown using a simple conference call on their landlines. Tony Rothe reports.
Many of the regular attenders at the small Methodist chapel in North Norfolk do not have computers, but lay pastor Ros Peedle was determined that this would not stop them from joining in worship together on a Sunday.
Ros explains: “Following the completion of the redevelopment of our premises in 2017, our membership gradually increased from three people to nine (plus two more who have died). Most of those do not have access to the internet, but they all have landline phones. I decided to see if I could arrange a conference phone call, and found a website – www.freeconferencecall.com that would do this free of charge.”
The first Sunday they tried to connect at the usual time of 11am but the system appeared too congested so only three managed to get through. After that they moved the service time to 4.30pm, which was a complete success, with 14 people joining together by phone for worship the next week. The Good Friday meditation welcomed 11 people, but on Easter Sunday morning, 18 people joined the conference call, two from as far away as the Isle of Man.
Hymn books had been distributed before lockdown, but Ros will try to get copies of the songs to others who need them. The audio worship generally lasts for half an hour, and participants are encouraged to use the hands free facility on their phones if they have it.
“It’s is great because we can all can worship together. Everyone can hear each other and talk to each other, and people share the readings” said Ros, “It means that we are including people who would otherwise worship alone: those who can’t go on line and who don’t “do tech” can still worship together – It’s all very simple and makes an enormous difference to everyone as we maintain our isolation.”
The Chapel remained open throughout the five years of the £65,000 makeover but the improved facilities and bright surroundings enabled them to start the Forget Me Not group for people living with dementia and their carers. This was opened by then MP Norman Lamb in June 2018. The renovations repaired the leaking roof and replaced the rotten floorboards, removed the dull and dark pews, installed a new kitchen, and brightened up the interior to encourage a bigger congregation of all ages, to use and enjoy the space.
Anyone who would like to join in Sunday telephone worship can phone Ros on 01692 405591.
Visit: https://www.northnorfolkmethodist.org.uk/ and search Churches/Lessingham
The pictures above are of the Lessingham Chapel, and some of the local folk sharing in the Christmas Tree lighting, and are courtesy of Ros Peedle.
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