by Revd Gill Reeve, Chaplain to Warrington Campus.
Chaplaincy plays an important part in supporting the University’s community life and therefore when the coronavirus pandemic caused people to be rapidly dispersed, we wanted to find ways to keep people connected.
Historically during times of national upheaval and change, the Church and other religious communities have offered people vital stability and encouragement. We have therefore done our best to keep all the regular Chapel Community gatherings going through our ‘Virtual Chapel’. None of us in Chaplaincy are particularly techie but we’ve gradually found our way around Facebook Live and Zoom. Seeing people’s faces and hearing people’s voices is so encouraging and hopefully helps people adjust to the many changes of recent weeks.
All are welcome to join in with our Chapel Community gatherings, communicated through the Chaplaincy Facebook page – UoCChaplaincy.
by Patsy Attwood
A few weeks ago, we had a visitor come into Chaplaincy House and Peter began to introduce everyone who was in the common room at the time. When he came round to me Peter said, “and this is Patsy” and after a short pause he continued by saying, “and she lives here … almost!” It has become a joke that I have become part of the furniture because I spend so much time in Chaplaincy House. I think that is because it is somewhere where I feel safe and comfortable to be myself without fear of judgement. For me it is a place where I feel that my calling to ministry is affirmed.
So, naturally being so far away from Chaplaincy House is difficult, it is sad that we are no longer able to sit in the common room, drinking tea and eating biscuits as we all share in fellowship together. We are all eagerly waiting for the day when we will be able to enjoy all of these things again and I am sure that we will not take it for granted.
Despite these challenges that we are facing and despite the fact that we are not able to join and be with one another right now, it is important that we focus on the positives that are emerging as a result of this crisis. I think that a major factor lies in that of technology. Because of technology we are able to carry on joining together in Morning Prayer, lunchtime prayer and our Worship on Wednesday services.
I am very much enjoying the livestreams and ‘Zoom’ meetings that we have several times a week. They not only provide structure and routine to my week, but they also help me to feel more connected to my friends who are many miles away from me right now. The ‘Zoom’ meetings are my favourite form of interaction because this service allows us to not only see those leading the services, but it also allows us to be seen and heard, thus allowing us to feel closer together. If it wasn’t for technology, I would definitely feel very isolated and cut off from my friends and support network.
Another positive that has come out of this somewhat unusual situation, is the pastoral care. This is present not only from the Chaplains but also from my peers. We are constantly ‘checking in’ with one another and sharing things that make us laugh, encourage us and let us know that we are here for each other almost all of the time.
It feels very exciting to be a part of the University of Chester’s first Virtual Chaplaincy and I am very much looking forward to seeing it develop and thrive.
So, being part of Virtual Chaplaincy is brilliant, it makes me feel more connected, supported and cared for in these times of uncertainty. Without Virtual Chaplaincy I think I would be feeling very lost and isolated from all of my friends from the Chapel Community.