In these days of Covid-19 seclusion, we're going to need each other even more.
Last week, I received and email from a friend in London. He is actually the Moderator of the United Reform Church of Great Britain. He is one of many important ecumenical partners that I and my own denomination work with around the world.
His email read:
In these Covid-19 shaped days, we need each other. I wanted simply but ever so sincerely to make contact and say how much I hope you are well and all your colleagues in the United Church of Christ.
These are days of challenge to us all, not least to people of faith, as we strive to be instruments both of Christ’s light and love. In your leadership, and that of many others in the UCC, I wish you wisdom, energy and grace.
With cherished memories of our time together in June 2019 and prayers.
The Reverend Nigel Uden
United Reformed Church
That was very kind of him. I told him so in a quick response, sharing with him how moving it was to hear from a partner and to know that even great distances did not keep us from wanting to reach out and show how much we care. I asked permission to share his words and sentiments more broadly within our churches. He wrote back again. This is what he wrote:
It is good to have your reply; I so appreciate it.
There is a real synergy in our situations. The URC, too, has made such arrangements for almost universal home-working. I am in my study at the Manse, and only leaving for a funeral tomorrow and to record Sunday’s worship on Saturday. People are being remarkably accommodating, but it is a busy time with so much to plan and ponder and so many to hold in communication, care and prayer.
Your concern for smaller churches is one that we share. Remarkable tenacity, rooted often in a straightforward faith, has held them in place over many years with tiny memberships, but their financial stability is often dependent upon rental income from their premises that has disappeared in a trice. It feels as if it might change us forever.
In a recent blog, I recalled a minister I once met who was called to a Congregational Church in Coventry in 1949. The city, including, famously, its cathedral, was devastated by the blitz in November 1940. A decade later the Reverend R. W. Hugh-Jones accepted the call having listened to one of the deacons who had shown he recognised how church life needed to be transformed precisely because everything in the world was different. He had said, ‘There is nothing in this church that cannot be changed as long as the Gospel is preached and the Kingdom of God extended.’ As one day we emerge from Covid-19, it seems to me that that deacon may have a word (even if we would express it a little differently) for more churches than his in post-war Coventry.
Rejoicing in the gift of email (I am not sure I ever expected to type that!) I wish you well, in Christ.
The Reverend Nigel Uden
First, Nigel is so right in remembering the words and the mission of the post-war pastor in Coventry. We are going to be changed when this is over – and there really is nothing that cannot be changed so long as the good news is preached and the realm of God extended.
Second, any partnership we have that extends love, care and concern will be appreciated in and through these days. Reach out, even across an ocean, and just let someone know you are thinking about them. It matters. We are going to need each other even more on this, our journey Into the Mystic.