North Norfolk Methodists telephone worship
Worshippers in the North Norfolk Methodist Circuit have been able to join together for worship on a Sunday during the pandemic restrictions using a simple conference call on their landlines. Tony Rothe reports.
The telephone service started back in Spring 2020 when live worship was necessarily halted because of the Covid lockdown. Many churches started to offer on-line services, but many of the regular attenders at the small Methodist chapel in Lessingham did not have computers, and lay pastor Ros Peedle was determined that this would not stop them from joining in worship together on a Sunday.
She decided to see if she could arrange a conference phone call, and found a website that would do this free of charge. This has now been operating for 18 months and is available for anyone from the North Norfolk Methodist Circuit who wishes to join in at 4.30pm on a Sunday.
Ros says, “We have had some wonderful preachers, including last year's President and Vice President of Methodist Conference. Also, we now have a member who is willing to take on the leadership on the rare occasions when I am away, which is working well and is a real blessing.
“We have a regular attendance of up to 20 people now, and, although some have returned to regular face to face worship in their own churches, are still keen to come each week to meet on the telephone. This is most encouraging for us all. We actually returned to live worship in Lessingham back in May, very carefully, and observing all the relevant regulations, but we intend to continue with this telephone service for as long as we feel it is needed.”
Ros explains that many of the people join the service phone in from all over the North Norfolk Circuit eg Gresham, Sheringham, Cromer, Sloley and Barton Turf and some from much further away. One friend of the Chapel joins in from near Norwich, another from Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire and another couple regularly phone in from the Isle of Man.
“On our first 'Anniversary' we gave virtual 'Sunday School Attendance Prizes' to four of our members who had attended every Sunday since we began. There was a great deal of laughter over this, and laughter is a strong component of many of our gatherings as we share things which have happened to us since we last met. There is also a strong feeling of fellowship and mutual support as we remember the names of not only folk or situations whom we all know but friends and families of people, unknown to most of us, but who are in difficult circumstances, and we offer prayers for them.
“COVID has given us a new way of worship and fellowship and has provided a small source of blessing amidst all the hardship of the pandemic.”
Ros has also started a monthly Forget Me Not group for older people which meets on the third Thursday of each month in Lessingham Chapel, pictured right. This offers a range of games and activities, opportunities to chat and make friends, both for the members (and, separately if preferred, for their carers) in a safe, warm, friendly environment. There is a cooked lunch followed by a sing-song before finishing at 2.00pm.
Anyone who would like to join either the Sunday telephone worship or the Forget Me Not group can phone Ros on 01692 405591, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information about Lessingham Methodist chapel, click here.
To read our previous story about the telephone service, click here.
The picture of Lessingham Chapel is courtesy of Ros Peedle.
The top picture is courtesy of pixabay.com
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