Sunday Worship during lockdown

The question I’ve been struggling with for over a week is, “How can we worship publically, when the church buildings are closed and gathering physically will put people’s lives at risk?” This coronavirus pandemic is changing the face of the country we live in, and challenging how we remain both ‘together’ and ‘public’.

After writing to everyone on the electoral roll of each church I’ve received many lovely letters and cards in return, together with contact details. This has made it possible (in this GDPR age) to email and telephone many people in our church communities to find out how they’re doing. I’m pleased to say that everyone I have spoken to is coping well, looked after by neighbours, friends and family, everyone seems to be getting enough food and some fresh air. I’m also delighted that all this communication isn’t all going through me: people are calling each other and it is so good to know that no one is being left in social isolation (to add to our physical isolation).

During the many conversations I’ve had over the past week, both inside and outside the church, I have learned what people are finding helpful. The most commonly requested thing is to have an agreed time when we all praying.

Sunday 10am Prayers

At 10am every Sunday during this pandemic lockdown, we will be praying. Even though we are apart, if we know everyone else is praying at the same time we get encouragement that we are not praying alone. How we pray is up to us, whether it is like a conversation with God, or a painting, contemplating God’s creation or simply saying the Lord’s Prayer: we know that our prayers are joined together in one voice before God.

Sunday Worship and Songs of Praise

Many people have told me they enjoy the BBC Sunday Worship or Songs of Praise. Sunday Worship is televised on BBC1 at 10:45am and Songs of Praise is on BBC1 at 1:15pm… these two programmes connect us with ‘hosts of saints and angels’ as we gather with many people from all over the UK to share a massive worship experience: bigger than any mega-church I’ve taken part in. Our shared context is the experience of lockdown during a pandemic, and the quality of the singing and worship far exceeds anything I could live-stream from my tiny study.

Holy Communion

At 6pm every Sunday evening, I quietly and reverently say the service of Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer. For a priest alone, the words seem somehow appropriate. As I take communion, I picture in my mind everyone I’ve spoken to throughout the week, the homes and businesses… and as I eat this bread and drink this wine… I ask God, ‘would it be okay if this is for everyone?’

These four approaches spread our Sunday worship out across the whole day, give each of us a chance to connect to what we feel most appropriate, and to join in with something so public that anyone can access it.

Daily Prayer

One last note before I finish this letter – just to say once more: I pray every day. I use the Daily Prayer app and between 8am and 9am every morning I pray for the day ahead, the world around us, and the life of the church. I find great help and solace in the Bible readings, the psalms and the prayers and if you would like to know more I’d be delighted to share my experience with anyone.

God bless you, Graeme


  1. This morning’s prayer felt, in my heart and soul, a wonderfully connected prayer time. After speaking to many of our congregation yesterday, and praying with my wife today, I feel a confidence that many of us were connected and yet praying in a way which is uniquely personal to each of us. Together, individual, unique; praying with one heart and mind.

  2. Almighty God,
    unto whom all hearts be open,
    all desires known,
    and from whom no secrets are hid:
    cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
    by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,
    that we may perfectly love thee,
    and worthily magnify thy Holy name;
    through Christ our Lord.

    As I took Holy Communion this evening, I asked God whether it would be okay if this could be on behalf of all those in the villages of Marsden, Slaithwaite and the surrounding communities. I pictured our homes and businesses, schools and countryside as I prayed for us all

Comments are closed.