UPDATE 12/11/20: Since this blogpost was written, England has gone into national lockdown through the end of November. We have plans to hold an event on 13th December that we COULD open up for a small group to attend, but if that is not possible, we’ll revisit having face to face gatherings when more information is known. This is not likely to be before January. In the mean time, we step up our efforts to connect with eachother online (and through fun post and texts).
With the governments announcements this week and the restrictions on Birmingham as ‘Tier 2’ I thought it would be helpful for me to write to you about what that means for us as Inclusive Gathering Birmingham, particularly in the coming weeks.
This post has a combo of ANNOUNCEMENTS and some warm fuzzy and practical explanation. I’ll bold the FOUR main points below for those who want to just skim the details. (I won’t be offended if you skim.)
(1)WE WILL CONTINUE WITH ONLINE-ONLY CHURCH GATHERINGS AND REVIEW THIS AGAIN IN 4 WEEKS.
As you probably know, our friends at The Church at Carrs Lane re-started their in-person church gatherings this month, and we were planning to follow suite by hosting an IGB ‘watch party’ at Carrs Lane in the coming weeks.
In discussing this today with our Core Team and with Rachel Handley (who is part of our leadership community and is a public health doctor), we have decided that this is NOT the best course of action for us at this time. Churches ARE still allowed to meet in a Covid-secure way, but with restrictions to travel also advised (and so many of us living at such a distance and being city centre based), this didn’t seem the right call for us right now. We’ll review this again next month as the government reviews restrictions on their 4-weekly cycle.
By way of background, our longer-term plan is to continue to meet online even as and when we are able to meet in person. Regardless of HOW we meet, we want to see ourselves as one community in how we approach our growth and learning and connection together.
(2) WE WANT TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY IN OUR CONNECTION WITH EACHOTHER & OUTDOOR SMALL MEET-UPS TO HELP SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER’S MENTAL HEALTH
Last Wednesday, we had a Covid Workshop on Zoom with our own Dr Rachel Handley that works in Public Health. Some of what we discussed has changed, but what was clear is that people are longing for social and personal connection with one another (and that need wasn’t going to be met alone by the kind of restricted church service we could have held anyway).
For those who feel it would be comfortable and beneficial, we’d like to organise (and encourage the organisation of) small outdoor local gatherings (in groups of 6), much as we did in the summer. The weather is a challenge, but walks and outdoor coffees in public spaces will do many of us good.
A few folks have scheduled this IGB Outdoor Meet-Up at Civic Square (Ladywood) this Saturday the 17th 1-3pm. If you are local and comfortable with this, you are invited to join in.
We’re also looking at how we can support one another more with opportunities for connection in groups of 2-3 people (online and/or outdoors), some more (varied) online social gatherings (like our Pub Quiz on the 23rd) and perhaps some communal crafting (online or outdoors).
Look out for those kinds of things popping up AND if you have creative ideas for gatherings or ways to connect, email me at email@example.com or suggest them in the Connect-Pray-Community Group. This is a community thing (not just a ‘programme’ thing) and we can and should all be part of showing love and care to ourselves and to one another. I think creativity is a must for preserving our mental health, while at the same time we remain firmly committed to adhering to the guidelines and honouring one another as we do so.
(3) We’ve added a resource section on our site that has links to help and support regarding Mental Health, Grief & Trauma.
We’ll continue to add to this. But whether you need immediate emergency support, or you would like read about how to strengthen your mental health, there are resources there for you. There is also a section on LGBTQ+ Identity and Faith and more resources to come.
(4) ON WEDNESDAYS, 7 & 14 OCTOBER WE HOSTED IGB COVIDE WORKSHOPS WITH DR RACHEL HANDLEY TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE ARE DOING AND ASK CLARIFYING QUESTIONS.
If you weren’t able to join us, Rachel and I filmed a short video summarising our discussions (ABOVE), AND here’s a link to Rachel’s powerpoint and information here.
I hope that is as clear as I can be in this time of great uncertainty. Like you, I wish there was a clearer pathway ahead. At the start of the lockdown in March, we said the main thing we would focus on as Inclusive Gathering Birmingham (as a ‘gathered’ community rather than a local church) would be doing our best to provide avenues for connection with eachother and try to provide some consistency in the midst of change. That continues to be true for us, though it feels more like a battle than ever and we won’t always get everything right. We are a learning community, after all.
I’m praying for you all today. For safety, for connection and for a sense of how deeply you are loved by God, even in the midst of chaos. I hope to see a number of you on Wednesday evening at 7:30 on Zoom.
If you would like to get in touch with me directly, please do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much love to you all,
Danielle Wilson (She/ Her)
Pioneer Minister of Inclusive Gathering Birmingham
(on behalf our IGB’s Core Leadership Team)