Sally-Anne Beecham, Curate in Bakewell Benefice and SS Augustine Chesterfield, reflects on how the coronavirus outbreak has shaped her curacy.
Like all clergy, the Covid-19 outbreak turned my ministry on its head.
However, when most churches were asked to close their doors, the one I’m working in had an exemption to stay very much open.
Overnight, Gussie’s Kitchen, the food project being run from Ss Augustine in Chesterfield, became the main food distribution hub for the town.
Yesterday we delivered to 200 vulnerable households using a fantastic team of volunteer drivers and packers.
My job has been to give information and offer support over the phone in my role as Chaplain - an incredible opportunity to reach out into the community.
I’ve had many significant conversations and I pray that relationships built during these days will bear fruit in the future.
Despite the many challenges, the shift in focus has created opportunities to model faith that were not present before, and it’s exciting to dream about how these can be progressed.
Since my ordination last year, the months have flown by, learning what it means to be a Christian presence in a rural town.
Relationship building is crucial
My highlights before lockdown have been out in the community getting used to my collar.
As well as the usual services, I had been raft-racing, dressed up in the carnival, led school assemblies, processed through the town on Remembrance Sunday and played Gabriel outside the pubs in the town nativity.
I was also involved in the beginning of a new congregation aimed at young families.
Overall, I’ve had my eyes opened to the challenges of juggling multiple churches and been overwhelmed by the faithfulness of those keeping the show on the road.
I’m also learning that Jesus’ model of relationship building is crucial and is what our communities are crying out for, so I’m excited to see what God has in store for us next.