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GNOSALL PARISH NEWS
Produced by publishers of The Popular Village Monthly
Gnosall and Stafford are blessed with beautiful places of worship. Here in the village we have the simple yet inspiring Methodist Chapel and the magnificent parish church of St Lawrence. In Stafford , St Austin’s Catholic Church, designed in a Gothic style by E.W. Pugin, son of the renowned architect A.W.N.Pugin, is noted for its ornately decorated sanctuary.
During the first three months of lockdown our churches and chapel have been shut, their doors closed even to the clergy, who were not allowed to enter to say Mass or conduct Communion.
Live-streamed services became the norm, with on-line worship in the virtual world of Zoom or YouTube, sometimes conducted from a kitchen, study or sitting room.
If and when the pandemic is a bad memory, will church and chapel congregations return in the same numbers to their traditional services?
A major survey has been conducted by three universities to try to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Christian faith in the UK and possible changes to future practice.
The anonymous on-line questionnaire asked about personal experience and reaction to the outbreak, as well as opinions on how the church locally and nationally had responded.
In partnership with Catholic Voices, the survey sought the views of many church members and is being collated by Professor Francis Davis at the University of Birmingham, together with Professor Leslie Francis of the University of Warwick and Professor Andrew Village of York St John University. The survey link is: https://tinyurl.com/y6vvn3hh
Searching questions asked if church buildings were really needed to fully express faith, or whether use of online worship is the way ahead. Could parish boundaries become redundant and church buildings no longer be financially viable?
Unsurprisingly the early conclusions amongst Catholic respondents (reported in The Tablet) show the majority missed going to Mass in the normal way, with 83 per cent indicating that live streaming was only a temporary substitute. However, 17 per cent said they would continue to worship online or mainly online. Another 14 per cent said that online would be the preferred choice for the next generation, reflecting younger people’s liking for digital media.
We need to be reminded that the strength of the Christian faith is its people, not the buildings. But for many, there remains an unbreakable link between their faith and their familiar place of worship. In the words of a favourite hymn: