300 clergy will take part in a virtual conference over Zoom from their homes this week, to share how they have responded to the challenges of ministry during the coronavirus lockdown. They will also consider how their future ministry will be reshaped by the experiences and opportunities as they seek to be Church for a Different World.
When the three-day residential conference for clergy in the Diocese of Manchester was cancelled because of the coronavirus emergency, the diocese decided to go online instead, providing a place for clergy to meet virtually, hear from their bishops and enjoy a sense of community and encouragement.
The Virtual Clergy Conference, called Church for a Different World: Under Lockdown, will take place on Tuesday 23 June and Wednesday 24 June from 10am to noon.
The diocese adapted the programme for the entire event, taking it online over Zoom and including presentations from its bishops and short video reflections from clergy.
Churches have shown creativity and imagination in the way they have adapted their ministry at speed under lockdown. The coronavirus has not closed the church, it has simply opened it up in different ways.
For example, 189 churches now provide some kind of online or livestreamed worship service. This has opened the churches up to people who would not usually enter a church building on a Sunday.
Participants will hear directly from 25 clergy about their personal experiences of lockdown, the good and the bad. These include reflections on evangelism and discipleship during lockdown, pastoral care and chaplaincy, Sunday worship, funeral ministry, children's and youth work, and how clergy have coped with the pressures of ministering under lockdown conditions
The 300 participants will split into 50 break-out groups over Zoom where they will discuss what they have heard and reflect on questions such as
- What have we learned about being a Church for a Different World during this lockdown period?
- In what ways have we grown during this period?
Many of the videos are very moving and it is hoped they will help engender a sense of community, encouragement and positivity about the future.
All the videos shown at the conference will be available on YouTube afterwards.
Prayer and Worship
Everyone is invited to share in the conference prayer and worship sessions which take place outside the main sessions on the Cathedral and Diocesan Facebook pages..
Archdeacon Karen Lund's closing prayers can be accessed here.