Busselton shines a virtual light

With worship services in WA closing due to COVID-19, churches are in a new (to some) space of keeping connected. Physical distancing is vital to lowering the impact of this virus, and thus needs to be taken seriously.

In good news, physically distancing does not have to mean socially isolating ourselves. In fact, with modern technology we can be more socially connected than ever, with an increase in online activity.

Busselton Uniting Church have been one of many to take up this opportunity, offering online resources for families or individuals to use while we are all practising physical distancing. Each Friday, Rev Andrew Broadbent, Minister at Busselton Uniting Church, will upload a video message and an accompanying PDF resource with prayers, reflection questions and links to traditional and contemporary music.

His first reflection is on ‘Jesus calms the storm’, and offers some great thoughts on where we are in this situation, together.

His next post will also include a message for kids, and will follow the Lectionary towards Easter.

“I tried to put it in a context of something you can use in a group or on your own,” he said. “I’m trying to make it something that’s adaptable that you can use any time.”

While going online helps to ease social isolation for many, others in the congregation – including ageing members – don’t have access to a computer and thus will be even further isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak. Andrew said he is hoping to keep in touch with these people via phone contact and hopefully a hardcopy resource.

As things are moving so fast, it is still a work in progress.

“We’re learning as we go,” he said.

“It’s still evolving; we’re looking at regular phone calls. For some of them it will be about a regular hardcopy update – provided we can – like a letter with some resources and some encouragement.

“We have a regular prayer group that meets every Monday so we’ll be looking to do that online. One of the things we do out of that, is that when we pray for people from our congregation we send them a postcard. So we’ll still be looking to do that.”

Andrew said it’s important to remember we are all in this together.

“We’re trying to encourage people that we’ve all got a role to play. If you get that prompting to ring someone, act on it.

“It’s not any one person’s role, its all of us.”

The online resource is a great way for members of Busselton Uniting Church to stay connected, but is also available for anyone to use. Andrew believes it is important during this time that people stay connected, not just to each other, but to their faith.

“It’s important to encourage people with their faith,” he said. “We can’t meet physically but we still want to be encouraging people in their faith journey: building them up, supporting, encouraging, challenging – the things that we normally do.

“It would be easy just to drift away, not just from connection with others in our church, but also to drift away from our faith as well because we’re not regularly meeting. So it’s a way of trying to regularly meet, and meet with God – keep that discipline going.

“Our role is to keep encouraging people in their faith and keep people feeling hopeful with strength to go on. We’ve got to make sure that people feel connected and valued.

“We’re just trying to make sure that no one slips through the cracks and is completely isolated and not being contacted.

“Coming up to Easter we’re a resurrection people, that’s at the centre of our faith. New life and light in the dark. We want to shine a light at this time; a virtual light.”

Access the weekly resources on the Busselton Uniting Church website. You can also follow them on Facebook.

A number of other Uniting Church WA congregations also have online worship resources, including South Mandurah Uniting Church, and The Billabong. For up-to-date resources, messages and information during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit the Uniting Church WA website.

Heather Dowling

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