Eleanor Lalley, Pastoral Associate, HeartStone Parish, Ainsdale and Southport Synod 2020 member

Since the opening of Synod2020, Southport pastoral area and parish members have been meeting to share parish responses and synod tips. Now with lockdown we continue to meet via Zoom video conferencing, resuming the fruitful discussions that began months ago with meetings in person in parishes. Gone are the cosy meetings around a big table with cups of tea. Today our meetings take place with a cup of tea from the comfort of our homes using a tablet, computer or phone.

Not all local Synod members have been able to join in these video meetings but a small group has persisted, serving Southport and the synod process.  Minutes of all meetings are emailed to Southport synod members, including those who cannot join in at the present time. Having already compiled an email list of pastoral area members through googlegroups was a crucial help. With our churches closed, meeting via video has helped to maintain communication across parish boundaries. We are so glad to have continued this shared ministry of discernment we were commissioned with as Synod members. This is because the coronavirus crisis has new things to teach us.

One inspiration has been the Chinese character wei-ji, the Chinese word for ‘crisis’. In Chinese ‘crisis’ includes two separate characters – ‘danger wei + opportunity ji’. When the Synod was envisioned over the last few years no one could have predicted our current situation. The dangers are obvious and we all suffer from the loss of contact within our churches. With our changed context, what are the new opportunities for our churches that will come out of the current crisis? How do these new opportunities relate to Synod and our post-Synod church?

  • In Southport we are exploring ways to encourage the development of small cells of sharing faith across our parishes
  • We are sending out reflections on the Acts of the Apostles for parishes newsletters this Eastertide
  • From each other we are discovering the new rituals that are emerging during this time – supporting parents praying at home, small funerals at the crematorium, outreach to those in isolation and use of the new Liverpool diocesan web resources. We anticipate a need for extensive bereavement support when the easing of the restrictions begins.

This is a challenging period of crisis and adjustment but also a chance to work together in new ways exactly as Synod2020 is asking us. By continuing to meet together the Southport Synod members are reaching out to this new opportunity to ‘become the Church we are called to be’. We find sharing faith and opinions in person – and now by Zoom – invaluable. We are delighted the Archdiocese has offered new resources for Southport members to use at our next meeting. God is still working in our world. It just looks and feels different.