Help Shape the Life of the Church post Pandemic.

Where do we go in recovery: New survey asks

Visitors, churchgoers and members of the public are being asked to help shape the life and mission of the church post pandemic.

A new survey has just been launched asking for public participation to help plan how places of worship can best help their communities – practically and spiritually – in recovery.

Take the survey here.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, and a partner behind the survey said:

“Churches are the obvious go-to places to help with the country’s recovery.”

The survey aims to capture experience and public opinion on the current needs of their community, how individuals have been personally affected by the restrictions on church buildings and activities, what role the building has played to support community through lockdown and asks what next as we move towards recovery.

“People value places of worship both as peaceful havens in a frightening world and as a source of lovingly-offered practical support. This survey invites them to tell us what really matters and how places of worship can help individuals and communities as we recover from the pandemic,” said Diana Evans, Head of Places of Worship Strategy, Historic England

It is the second survey to come from this rapid-response research team set up in late July 2020 by the Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture (University of York), with the Church of England Mission and Church Buildings teams, the Association of English Cathedrals, Historic England, the National Churches Trust, and the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance.

The first survey provided evidence and analysis of churches and communities during the pandemic and gathered testimony showing the human cost of the lockdown. This ranged from families being unable to process their grief properly due to the restrictions on funerals, clergy feeling unable to do their job properly, to the cost of the closures on those who relied on a wide range of community, social and mental health support activities including baby and toddler clubs, keep-fit activities, groups for the elderly and those living alone, pre-school nurseries, debt counselling services, help with finding work, and homelessness support.

Take the survey here.

The 2,500-plus responses offered key evidence to present to the Church of England and the Government to demonstrate the importance of churches to communities across the country and added its weight to other research projects, including The House of Good report from the National Churches Trust which found churches provided £12.4 billion worth of essential social and economic support to local communities during the 12 months up to May 2020.

The Revd Dr Dee Dyas, Director, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture, explained:

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the often-unrecognised contribution made by churches to individual and communal wellbeing across the country in normal times and revealed the value of the infrastructure of emergency care which churches offer.”

She continued that the first survey found evidence to show churches hosted ‘cradle to grave’ activities which enhanced spiritual, mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and offer social care.

She said:

“Many of them house key community services, such as Post Offices, GP surgeries and health clinics, cafes, markets, and village shops.

“They promoted social cohesion, supported disadvantaged communities through afterschool education clubs, foodbanks, parenting classes, addiction support, counselling, disabled gyms, lunch clubs, bereavement groups.

“And the buildings themselves played a key role in creating identity creating identity, promoting belonging, offering access to shared heritage and culture, and providing safe places of beauty and peace.”

The findings from both surveys will be brought together into a centralised resource hub for creative ideas and practical examples of help as well as simple ministry and mission ideas being developed by churches on the ground that will be accessible to everyone later this year.

Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, said:

“The evidence of grassroots needs and experience is making a really significant contribution to decision making, providing food for helpful guidance and enabling the sharing of creative responses to COVID-19.”

Take the survey here.