This page gives regular updates to how the church is responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest updates will always be at the top of the page.
Regular updates are also posted on our WhatsApp group and our Facebook Page.
The original post is here.
UPDATE: 24/4/2020: It’s been a while since our last update, and we wanted to summarise what’s going on in church life during this period of lockdown. (You can also view this as a standalone post here.)
We gather online every Sunday morning at 10.30am to worship together as a church family. The service includes a mixture of pre-recorded contributions from members of the church, as well as live broadcast from Revd Graham at St John's Vicarage.
(We also broadcast morning prayer every weekday at 9am on Facebook Live.)
Keeping In Touch
We’re really keen to keep in touch with one another as a church - so that people are not forgotten or neglected. If you want to be kept up-to-date with church life, here’s a quick summary of our main communication channels:
- Website - we will keep on issuing little updates here: www.stjohnshoxton.org.uk/news
- Facebook Group - we have a Facebook group where we post information about activities, groups and services, as well as helpful resources for prayer and worship - www.facebook.com/groups/stjohnshoxton
- Facebook Page - we also post more public information at our page - www.facebook.com/stjohnshoxton
- WhatsApp - we have a WhatsApp group which is for sending out information only - there’s not ‘chat’ function - so you can join it without worrying about getting overwhelmed by messages - sign up here.
- COVID-19 Care Team - we have recruited a team of volunteers who are making weekly phonecalls to check in with members. If you’ve not received a phonemail, please check your contact details are up-to-date at MyChurchSuite
- MyChurchSuite - this is our church family database - you can login to join Connect Groups, manage your contact info, listen to sermons, and manage your giving.
Children & Youth
We’re doing what we can to support children and youth during this time. We’re aiming to run meet-ups for children and youth every Sunday and once during the week.
- Kids on Sundays: Diddy Disciples meets before the service at 9.30am // Kids meet during the service at around 11am for about 25 minutes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to register.
- Youth on Sundays: Youth meet after the morning service at about 11.45am for about half an hour. Email email@example.com for details of how to register.
- Kids midweek: Kids are meeting weekly at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to register.
- Youth midweek: Streetlevel Hangout continues weekly at 5pm for about an hour. Email email@example.com for details of how to register.
Here are some resources that might also support families in practising their faith together at home:
We're using Zoom - a video conferencing application - for our online Connect Groups, Youth / Kids groups, Alpha and Cafe hangouts. Zoom has become very popular in recent weeks, and there are lots of guides online for how to use it. Here's one short video (less that 5 minutes) to help you get started.
There have been some concerns about security. Please note, we are ensuring that all our meeting are password protected, and that information about meetings is only distributed to people who have registered for a group, and the password sent only to members on our church database. This blog summarises the guidance that we've been following.
Connect Groups / Alpha
There are currently 6 Connect Groups meeting weekly on various days and at various times. We would love to invite everyone in our church family to join an online Connect Group - for friendship, bible study and prayer support.
We're also running an online Alpha course for anyone who would like to explore Christian faith at this time - if you have a friend or neighbour who would be interested, please invite them to attend.
Offering / Getting Help
We're doing all we can to care for vulnerable members of our church family and wider neighbourhood. We've created a simple form where you can offer or request help. This is for church members AND the wider neighbourhood - please share it with people in need. And if you can volunteer help, complete the form as well.
Worship at Home
There are loads of amazing resources to help you worship at home. Here’s a list of a few websites you might like to visit:
John has been making some wonderful recordings of some of our favourite worship songs for us to use on Sundays at at home. They're available below.
We're also putting together some (much less polished!) recordings of some actions songs for kids and families to use. They're available here.
UPDATE - 28/3/2020: COVID-19 Care Team, Worship Services & Children / Youth Groups
We've had a couple of technical problems with our website in the past couple of days, and one or two previous updates have been lost. This is a brief summary of measures the church leadership have been taking to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular to our current 'lockdown'.
COVID-19 Care Team
- We have established a COVID-19 Care Team. This is a group of responsible leaders in the church, staff and volunteers, who have been trained and authorised to contact church members on our database to check how they're doing and make sure our church family is well cared for during this time.
- We have taken a wide definition of 'church members' and included everyone on our church electoral roll, as well as everyone who over the past couple of years has been part of our worshipping community. There are around 280 adults on our contact list, and each volunteer in the COVID-19 Care Team has undertaken to phone 15 people every week.
- Please don't be surprised if you receive a telephone call in the coming weeks. If you don't wish to be contacted, because you've left the church for any reason, please do inform the person who calls you, and they will updated our database.
- If you are currently a member of one of our core ministry teams, and would like to be included in this Care Team effort, please contact our Vicar, Graham. We need to recruit a further 6-8 members of the Care Team.
- We are intending to livestream a worship service every Sunday at 10.30am. However, we are aware that it may be difficult for people to access these due to technical limitations. We're also aware that home internet capacity may not cope with live-streamed worship. Please be patient and understanding if the livestream doesn't work.
- We will continue to broadcast Morning Prayer most days at 9am on our Facebook page.
- We are working on producing some video worship and prayer resources that will be shared on our YouTube channel.
Children / Youth Groups
- Many of our midweek groups have continued meeting, but using Zoom or other video conferencing solutions.
- We're working on resourcing online hangouts for children and youth via Zoom. These will be led by our Children's / Youth Ministry teams, and will be subject to all the usual Safeguarding procedures.
- It is important that parents provide consent and support for their children to participate in online groups. Please check your email and respond to invitations.
UPDATE - 24/3/2020: Church Building Closed: Church Community Open!
Further to the Prime Minister's statement last night, the church building remains closed, and all regular premises users have been asked to stay away. Our car park remains in operation to help provide transport solutions for key workers. Our Vicar, Graham, is leading online prayer from the church several times a day, while reorganising the way we do pastoral care and social connections for our members and wider community. Though the church building is closed, the church family is very much open for business!
We're unsure as to whether we will be able to offer a live streamed service this coming Sunday. Updates will be posted here and over at our Facebook Page.
UPDATE - 23/3/2020: Church Building Now Closed
- The Bishop of London wrote to Clergy in the Diocese on Sunday evening to instruct us to close our church buildings to all visitors and users. We have responded immediately by closing the building. This has an impact on various groups and users, who have been notified today.
- Church staff are now working remotely, with the exception of the Building & Premises Manager who is running the car park*; the B&P Assistant who is keeping church surfaces clean and thoroughly disinfected; and the Vicar, Graham, who is convening meetings via Zoom and providing pastoral care via telephone or digital communication.
- We anticipate having a very small team present in the building this coming Sunday to arrange to live stream a worship service.
- Daily prayer will be live streamed at various times from the church by the Vicar. Visit our Facebook Page to join in. Morning prayer will usually start at 9 or 9.30am. You may find it helpful to have the daily prayer app - available here (Apple App Store): or here (Google Play Store).
- The church WhatsApp Group and the Facebook group have been changed to 'information only' - so there is no conversation in the groups. We encourage people to join these groups for regular updates.
* The Church car park operation is continuing, not least because we have NHS key workers who use it for car parking.
UPDATE - 21/3/2020: Changes to St John's Hoxton Response in light of Current Guidance
1. Social Distancing & Services
- We will continue to follow guidance given by the Church of England, the Diocese of London, Public Health England and the NHS.
- In terms of how people access the church building, this means that we will constrain numbers of people physically attending any prayer space / meeting / work-based activity to no more than 10 at any one time.
- We will promote the national guidance on physical distancing and hand washing.
- We are really concerned for people's mental and emotional health at this time. Please read the support articles at https://mindandsoulfoundation.org and https://www.mind.org.uk
- We are expecting to live stream one service per week on Facebook Live a Sunday morning, and to minimise the number of people involved in leading the service.
- All groups and activities involving people being physically present in church will be suspended for the w/b 23rd March. We will review this on a regular basis.
- We will be developing means of connecting and contacting one another online and by telephone.
- Graham will continue regular prayer in church, and will stream this online where possible.
- We will be consulting with other groups who regularly use the church premises to discuss their action plans, and minimise the use of the church building.
- Given the wide variety of information streams active at the moment, we want to pay special attention to the key sources mentioned above: Church of England, Diocese of London, Public Health England and the NHS. We are fortunate to have in our Diocesan Bishop Sarah, a person with vast experience in public health policy and practise.
- All our church communication channels will become ‘information only’ for the time-being - giving updates on church activities, but avoiding too much conversation which may cause confusion or anxiety. Members will of course have their own WhatsApp and messaging groups, but the church groups will change for now.
- We encourage all church members to use the MyChurchSuite function of our database to update their contact details, and to keep in touch with one another.
- There will be new digital connect groups forming over the next week to keep people connected with one another.
- We also encourage some ’social media distancing’ - following mental health advice to check only one or two trusted sources of information once or twice a day for updates. We suggest that church members might want to enjoy reading books and playing games rather than getting sucked into ‘panxiety’ online.
UPDATE - 19/3/2020: We're planning to live stream one Sunday service at Sunday 22nd March at 10.30am. During the service there will be some ways to interact online:
- When the service leader leads a prayer, you can add your 'Amen' by typing in the comments box or using the ? emoji
- When the service leader invites you to share peace - we can share virtual peace by typing 'Peace be with you' or using ✌️ emoji
- During sung worship, please sing along at home, and indicate you're joining in with the praise ? emoji
UPDATE - 18/3/2020: We will be live streaming one Sunday service on Sunday 22nd March at 10.30am. (You can watch here: www.facebook.com/stjohnshoxton) After the service, there will be seven slots available for up to 10 people at a time to attend church for private prayer and to receive the bread of Holy Communion. Sign up here.