Our shared experience of the pandemic has in many ways brought us closer together. How can we embed that positive experience of community, so that it doesn't just peter out as things (eventually!) get back to 'normal'?
In our personal lives, the experience of Lock-down has for many been highly impactful. There has been bereavement, loss, fear and trauma; a knock to confidence in socializing; a sense that we may have rediscovered things that had been forgotten, things that matter; a desire for 'something' – a spark to light a new fire. And now it's proving to be a long winter...
A key response to all of this is found in real, supportive, loving, community. A vision for a restoration of neighbourly relationships, solidarity and a sense of belonging is a prize worth fighting for – and now is the time to fight, as the refreshing of community spirit during the Lock-down and subsequent restrictions gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to facilitate something more permanent.
As One is ready to provide banners, posters, stickers, branded invitation letters to overprint, clear instructions, plus mentoring and support to localities all over the UK, along with social networking, media promotion and national energy to complement local vision and mobilisation.
You could start a Street Association. Street Associations are led by a core group of residents, who come together to say, "What shall we do next", bringing the street together with something like a barbecue, quiz night or children's party.
It only takes a few people on a street, acting together, to say, 'Let's start one'.
Why not take a look at the following links for more information:
If this is something you would like to do for your community get in touch with As One for guidance and support here: www.as-one.uk/contact-us
How can the church at large best respond to the unique moment we are in, and to everything our communities experiencing, ranging from trauma and hardship on the one hand, to a rebirth of community spirit on the other? How to help bring closure to the negative and longevity to the positive?
This is an outreach which, experience shows, will be responded to with open arms, even by people who wouldn't normally be open to the local church, because the church is acting as the local arm of a high profile partnership including schools, GPs, council and others. And it gives church members the opportunity to be 'salt and light', long term, through building relationships with the people they live amongst.
Initially, the partnership displays hundreds of locally-customised two-metre banners ("you see them everywhere") across the town, city or county. These could go up in the Spring, the high-profile message – supported up by a social media campaign – reaffirming the best of the 'Lock-down spirit'. There's a village version, too.
Then, when the pandemic allows, dozens of churches in the partnership prepare to invite local people to two key events, perhaps in June, September or even next year (we need to be flexible, but ready). The first of these is an outdoor Community Memorial Service with a leaflet going to every home, using the well-known As One brand, inviting residents to come and 'stand together', to comfort those who mourn, and to recognise and remember the suffering, the isolation, lost livelihoods, anxiety and fear, frustration and stress from a year like no other. Each church has the precious opportunity sensitively to minister to its community helping them to find peace (suggested formats will be provided).
For more information on how your church can get involved download the informative document ' As One article for church networks '.