Retreats at Home during COVID-19 and beyond

Retreats at Home

 

Are you looking for an alternative way to deepening your prayer life or do you know people who long to draw closer to Jesus?

Residential retreats are very expensive and not always feel possible for people who may have family or work commitments. Many retreat centres are closed due to COVID-19, though some are beginning to reopen.

Retreats at Home

An alternative is to make a retreat whilst staying at home or carrying on with your day-to-day life. Manresa Link is an ecumenical network in the Midlands which gives retreats based on Ignatian spirituality. The retreats last around 6 weeks and during that time people meet with their prayer guide once a week to share how they have got on with their prayer.

During lockdown Manresa Link organised Retreats At Home so that people could speak to their guide over the phone, Whats App, Zoom or any other internet app they had. As lockdown eases some face-to-face meetings may also be possible. The good news is that Manresa Link will continue to offer more remote support if needed.

Manresa Link Candle

Why make a retreat?

Does this sound a bit scary? You might be thinking,

“Help! My prayer life is rubbish!” or “I am not ‘holy’ enough to have a special guide.” “Who would want to listen to me?”

A prayer guide is there to just listen and to help you to discern where God is in your experience.

Even the phrase ‘Ignatian spirituality’ might sound a bit intimidating. What on earth is this, you might wonder. It is simple a way of praying that focuses on Jesus using some insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556). One of these is

“Pray as you can.” He was very practical and down-to-earth.

Being listened to by someone who cares and is not there to judge can be a wonderfully affirming experience. It can also help you to discern how God might be calling you in your discipleship. You can read more about Manresa Link here.

People who make a retreat can make a small donation to cover costs of materials if they can afford it.

Grants to make a residential retreat

If you are feeling in need of refreshment and time completely away from home there is help towards paying for a residential retreat from the Society of Retreat Conductors.

Again, when you click on the grants tab this might look a little bit daunting. It is not as hard as it seems and the Society of Retreat Conductors want more people from estates to be aware that these funds are available. The feedback form you are sent to tell them about your retreat is short and easy to fill in. It could be a life changing experience.

They also offer grants towards helping Christians to train to listen as prayer guides and spiritual directors.

Below is an example of an Ignatian way of praying called the Examen or the Review of Day.

The Review of Day

 

Christians Against Poverty launch resources page in response to COVID-19

CAP logo

Christians Against Poverty is a charity which equips churches to help people come out of poverty.

They have gathered a number of resources to help churches resource our communities as the impact of COVID-19 begins to be felt with rising levels of poverty. This includes

  • Information on Government and industry support
  • Signposting to organisations providing additional specialist support, for individuals and churches
  • Practical advice on how to serve those in need in your community, starting with our new project: Pathways out of Poverty

On their Resources for churches page you will find advice from experts on areas like Universal Credit, debt management and mental health.

A bit about Christians Against Poverty

No one should feel isolated or frightened about how to pay bills and feed themselves and their family because they have no money. It is really horrible! Anyone who has had any financial concerns will tell you how worrying and isolating it is.

CAP’s mission is to restore hope through partnership with churches across the UK. They now have over 300  people working to advise front-line workers all over the country on how to support people trapped in poverty. You can read more about their work here.

CAP also have several videos of people who have been helped to get out of debt which show that with the right support this can be done. If you know anyone worried about their finances get them to have a look at these.

“Always through the Church. Always hope.”

For more information about Christians Against Poverty visit https://capuk.org/

Online Talking Jesus course free till end of August 2020

Hope Together

During COVID-19 the Talking Jesus course created by Hope Together will be free until the end of August 2020.

This is a practical 6 session course which can now be shared with groups online about how to tell others about Jesus. Simply click here and follow the instructions to register your group to the free course. A short video explains how this course gives people confidence to talk to friends and people they know about Jesus.

More about Hope Together

Hope Together is about showing the unconditional love of Jesus in our local communities, whether this be through setting up a food bank or working with local community organisations. Church members are encouraged to invite others to become a follower of Jesus.

The whole ethos of the organisation is grounded in prayer. You can visit https://www.hopetogether.org.uk/Groups/324633/About.aspx to find out more.

Hope Together’s response to COVID-19

Churches in Birmingham have created ‘We are the Church’posters to display in windows and remind people that the church is still present in neighbourhoods, even though we are scattered. You can download a poster by clicking on this link HOPE-Rainbow-Poster

You can also download this folder to share on social media. We_are_Church_Social_Media

You can click here to read about lots of other practical ideas for sharing love in your local community. This includes a short video on how to offer support to someone who is bereaved. There is also a Discover Bible app available which can be read in virtual groups.

Holiday Hunger August 2020

JPIT Logo

The Methodist Children, Youth and Family Team recently partnered with Joint Public Issues Team and Transforming Lives for Good for a Holiday Hunger Focus Week. JPIT’s Paul Morrison wrote the following blog to support it: www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/?s=holiday+hunger

The Trussell Trust has seen an 89% increase in the use of food banks since April 2019. This figure rises to 107% in the numbers of families with children who now require the support of a food bank. A copy of the report from the Trussell Trust can be downloaded on this link:

Trussell Trust Report on Food Banks 2020

Low income families have been hit with the double whammy of schools being closed for two and a half months and a reduction in earnings and/ or redundancies. A survey conducted by the JPIT shows how the lowest earning workers are more likely to lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19. See https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-effects-of-the-coronavirus-crisis-on-workers/

How can we respond to holiday hunger as Christians?

The Methodist Church has a number of suggestions in its blog https://www.methodist.org.uk/holidayhunger/

 

Residential Conferences return for Leading your Church into Growth

Leading Your Church Into Growth

Government guidelines and restrictions remain firmly in place whilst COVID-19 is with us for our safety.

As restrictions ease the organisers of Leading your Church onto Growth look forward to being able to offer residential conferences again in October and November. Conferences will be hosted by the Christian Conference Trust (CCT) who will ensure that the conferences will adhere to the current safety guidelines.

If you are interested in finding more please visit https://www.leadingyourchurchintogrowth.org.uk/

More about Leading your Church into Growth

The purpose of LYCiG is encourage and equip local churches to grow spiritually and in numbers. People on the team come from all kinds of churches from urban to rural, high, low, evangelical, Catholic all with a desire to lead more people to Jesus.

Robin Gamble leads the team and gives a very practical, friendly and warm welcome to conferences. You can find out more about the organisation here

Follow LYCiG on Facebook to access free up-to-date resources and to meet members of the team.

‘This estate we’re in’ by Al Barrett

This Estate We're In

From time to time it is good to stimulate  ideas and our own theological reflections on living and working as communities on estates and urban areas. This is especially important at the moment when face-to-face meetings are limited due to COVID-19.

In this section of our blog we hope to signpost you to other excellent blogs by estate churches leaders and practitioners.

Our first estate church leader we’d like to introduce you to is Al Barrett, an Anglican priest and dad who has been living in Hodge Hill on the edge of East Birmingham since 2010.

Al’s blog, ‘This estate we’re in’ is a theological reflection of day-to-day life on an urban outer estate in the West midlands.

It is beautifully crafted and contains  honest thoughts and feelings about our common experience, ideas for praying for the community, even if you are still unable to go out, prayers, poems, artwork from estates and extensive recommended reading where appropriate. Al also helpfully lists other really good blogs he follows which you might find useful for further ideas and future conversations.

Some of the liturgy to pray with have been composed with the aid of Ruth Harley, who is currently training for ordained ministry at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, with a call to living on estates.

As a taster, have a look at Al’s recent post, Living through liminal times

This post is about living through the wilderness experience of the pandemic, the pain involved and a call to explore new possibilities in these uncertain times. We’re giving away no more spoilers on here…you will just have to check out his blog for yourself!

Virus as Portal

Jesus Shaped People and COVID-19

Jesus Shaped People logo

Jesus Shaped People is a programme to develop the discipleship of small, estate churches and communities from social housing and inner estates.

Sample resources can be downloaded from https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/ 

Jesus Shaped People have been producing resources for churches now living with the fall-out from COVID-19. A link a video clip explaining more can be found here.

New resources include two short video clips on the themes of ‘Loss’ and ‘Discovery’. These can be downloaded and shared remotely with your church community or a church group that meets for prayer and Bible study. Brendan asks questions to reflect on and pauses after each question so that the video can be paused to allow for group discussion. If you would like to view these videos visit https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/node/216

Keep up to date with Jesus Shaped People via their Facebook page

CURBS Fundraising Campaign during COVID-19

CURBS logo

CURBS is a small charity set up to resource and train children’s workers on outer estates and inner city areas.

Like many other charities CURBS have taken a financial hit from COVID-19. They are facing a shortfall of around £8,000 for the year. Could you support their 100@5 campaign? They are asking for 100 members to commit to giving £5 a month to keep them going. Your prayers are also essential, even if you can’t give.

To find out more visit https://curbsproject.org.uk/

In the meantime members of CURBS have continued to produce some brilliant resources and reflections  to help families and church workers to get through this challenging time.

Rachel, a pioneer minister on the Whiteway estate in Bath, has set up a ministry of using chalk and a battery operated bubble blower to connect with children and families on her estate. You can read more about her ministry here.

The Friday Club Plaistow, Newham, East London has created an audiovisual of the Upside Down Kingdom which can be downloaded for free from https://curbsproject.org.uk/upside-down-kingdom-chapter-10-downside-up/

Messy Church’s Response to COVID-19

Messy Church

 

Messy Churches are being as creative as ever during these strange times. Ideas range from on-line craft sessions on Zoom and Facebook Live to creating Messy Church in a Bag for families to collect and take home. More information and guidance can be found on https://www.messychurch.org.uk/covid-19

Messy Church through the Bible Reading Fellowship have  Facebook Live sessions every Wednesday at 9.00 am or 8.00 pm UK time for sharing companionship, ideas, encouragement and prayer. This can be found on this link: https://www.facebook.com/messychurchBRF/

This is a great place to look for recommendations for child-friendly Bibles, particularly for children with special educational needs.

Another recommendation from Messy Church is to create a Social Story. Creating Social Stories are a way of helping autistic children to understand what to expect in certain social situations and why. This is especially important when teaching children how to keep themselves and others safe during the pandemic. The terms ‘social story’ and ‘social stories’ are terms owned and originated by Karen Gray. Further information can be found at https://www.autism.org.uk/

Lots more brilliant resources for crafts, prayer, baking and blogs sharing experience from parents and carers from Messy Church can be found on https://www.pinterest.co.uk/MessyChurchBRF/messy-church-at-home/

Kick Start Campaign – Christians Against Poverty

Kick Start Campaign

 

Kick Start is the response from Christians Against Poverty  to the needs we know will exist in communities all over the UK as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is designed to equip local churches to easily help people get their lives moving along following the impact of the crisis.

Covering areas such as job searching and living well on a budget, Kick Start also acknowledges the emotional impact of what we’re all living through. Sessions on dealing with worry and coping with loss also feature.

Kick Start consists of a flexible menu of nine video sessions. The entire resource will be available to all churches for free via download.

For more information about the sessions please download the PDF file from the link below:

Kick Start promotional information