Faith Focus: The resurgence of local under the lockdown

Peter Crumpler.

Peter Crumpler. - Credit: Archant

Odd things have been happening to my world in these past weeks of lockdown.

It’s got bigger. I’ve been speaking regularly via the web with friends in Australia and the United States. Worshippers from Canada and South Africa are taking part in our online church services. Other churches are telling the same stories, with increasing numbers of people logging on.

It’s got smaller. Even with the relaxation of regulations, many people are still working from home, home-schooling and mostly exercising within walking or cycling distance from where they live.

It’s got faster. Arrangements for a funeral in my family were speeded up, with registration and funeral planning carried out over the phone. A GP’s appointment by telephone significantly cut down waiting time.

It’s got slower. Shopping takes longer with queues that people would have complained about before the lockdown. The shops have done a great job to keep the shelves stocked and maintain social distancing.

I’ve been thinking about what the long-term impact of the COVID-19 lockdown might be. One of the key outcomes is that local is back.

For decades, we’ve been hearing about globalisation, and how the world is a much more connected place. It is, and the internet has kept many vital businesses running these past weeks.

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But we’ve also come to value what’s on our doorstep and in our local streets. Neighbours have become more important. We’re valuing local shops, pubs and restaurants, parks and open spaces. All the people working hard to keep local services going.

Christianity is now a major global religion, with billions of followers around the world. But it began local. It began with Jesus Christ, travelling by foot, preaching and healing around a small area of the Middle East. From its local roots, the faith spread around the world.

Today, across St Albans and beyond, churches deeply rooted in their local communities are seeking to follow Christ’s example of love and caring.

Each of us is rooted into our family, into our key relationships and into where we live. During this pandemic, each of these has grown in importance.

Rev Peter Crumpler is associate minister at St Paul’s Church, Fleetville, St Albans