Spotlight on Dundee: Lockdown News from St Luke’s Café Church, Dundee.
Reasons To Be Cheerful at St Luke’s Downfield, Dundee.
We have found Zoom a really good tool with which to run services, both for church and for Pirate monks. It’s great to see each other on a Sunday and over 30 folks manage to join up online (it’s interactive too so there is space to chat as well as we might do at a “real” service). As you know, a number of the Pirate Monks have mental health challenges and Thursday night zoom meetings are something we all look forward to, sharing and praying together. It’s surprising how easy the technology is to use and folks have got used to it very quickly.
WhatsApp groups have been another great boon, we’ve one for Church and one for Pirate Monks, folks share scripture, prayers, internet clips and even just topical jokes though it.
Although I can’t be directly involved due to an underlying condition, I have been inspired on the sidelines by St Luke’s Foodbank. I know that we have obtained over £5,000 in grants towards providing food to vulnerable people in our area - there are a handful of us (not me personally) making up and delivering food parcels to over 20 families. I believe we have delivered over 2,000 meals in 23 days!.
Each food drop goes out with a sheet inviting folks to join us “virtually” on Sunday, advertises our normal Café Church and has information about the weekday “groups” with links to our Facebook page. So, hopefully, a positive message is getting out about church.
We’ve had to invest in a shop size freezer to handle the donations of fresh food coming in and are receiving referrals from the Council, the NHS and others. Even more interestingly, local people have found out about us and are bringing in food.
I know that our Church members are giving to support the work and one of us (this is extraordinary!) is giving a quarter of their State Benefits each month to help buy the food. It’s a humbling example.
Two weeks ago the congregation were introduced to a contact in India who is helping to feed 2 villages in lockdown (he joined us via Zoom). I found out from our treasurer that last week that a gift of £1,000 was raised by the congregation and has been passed on. Given the economic profile of many of the folks who come, this was again, for me, a wonderful example of Christian generosity and love. I found out today that the money provided food parcels for 73 families!
The WhatsApp application can be useful in many ways e.g. it helps us support one Pirate Monk member who we found a place in a Rehabilitation Centre when he was in crisis just before the lockdown. Ian is able to connect with us once a week via WhatsApp and view the entries. He messaged on Sunday that he is 2 stones heavier and doing well (he made a commitment before leaving so we continue to pray for him)
Less technically innovative but just as useful, we also have short lists of folks who we phone weekly just to keep in touch. It’s a simple idea but folks do seem to appreciate they’ve not been forgotten.
So, all this contact is really holding us together as a fellowship and I get the impression folks really appreciate it. We’ve been through some growth this year and really want to hold on to it.
It’s also a real blessing to feel we are, collectively, helping to fulfil Christ’s urging, and example, to feed the poor and help the vulnerable – it’s a bit like a crisis has become an opportunity.
I do hope it will be possible to share some of these ideas and the news with the Diocese, I know that many fellowships are small in number and resources, and it’s always good to know and rejoice when good things are happening with other members of the “family”.
Bruce (Gowans St Luke’s)