Covid A Year On: What one church did to cope with the pandemic

St Paul's Church in Fleetville

St Paul's Church in Fleetville is one of thousands across the country which has had to adapt to coronavirus restrictions. - Credit: St Paul's Church

In the wake of the pandemic, churches across the country have had to suspend their services and switch overnight to producing online services and talks using YouTube, Facebook and Zoom.

Rev Peter Crumpler, associate minister of St Paul's Church in Fleetville, St Albans, explained how they had to learn fast how to use these technologies, and are still learning even now.

"Going forward, we will be holding services in church while also ‘livestreaming’ them to worshippers at home. 

"As the Covid regulations have allowed, we’ve been looking at ways we can connect with people outside of the church. This has ranged from carol singing on the new housing in our parish - and on the bandstand in Clarence Park.

"When we started singing carols in the park, a socially-distant ‘congregation’ of more than 100 quickly gathered and were reluctant to leave."

Christmas window display at St Paul's Church.

Christmas window display at St Paul's Church. - Credit: St Paul's Church

In October, St Paul's said farewell to their vicar, Canon Tony Hurle, who had been at the church for more than 28 years. His farewell service would have been a major event, with a packed church. Instead, numbers in the church had to be limited, with many people watching online.  

The church has also produced eye-catching window displays for Remembrance Sunday and Christmas that have featured on community Facebook groups – and launched two online carols, one with Makaton sign language. 

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For Easter, they are planning an Easter Trail around the area, and inviting people to tie ribbons on the railings or place pebbles by their Easter Cross at the corner of Hatfield and Blandford Roads.

"We want to give the opportunity for people to remember someone they have lost during this difficult year, or before, or to pray for someone who is facing tough times."

Supporting vulnerable members of their congregation has also been crucial: "At the start of lockdown we sought to ensure we were in contact with all church members and offered phone chats and practical help.

St Paul's Church put on a Remembrance Day window display.

St Paul's Church put on a Remembrance Day window display. - Credit: St Paul's Church

"Our network of small groups has proved vital in providing mutual support. We’ve also seen church members volunteering in a range of ways and backing local charities. Church-based projects providing community support have continued. 

"We are now piloting a project to give families facing hardship the ingredients to cook healthy meals and assessing other ways that we can support  local people as we emerge from lockdown."