James reflects on Lockdown

From James Gardner, Fife Cluster YF leader

James with dog Ellie

Dear Friends,

At time of writing, we have nearly had a month of lockdown already, and are looking at least another three weeks until any sign of restrictions ending.  It has certainly been a month to remember. On the day we went into lockdown we were told to stay in our homes, and restrict going out; like most people I wasn’t planning on giving up quite so much for Lent.

The day will be a memorable day as I had just moved job. I just had my first day and had already planned the next day. In the office I had papers I planned  to work on printed out (they are still in the drawer untouched from the day I put them in there) when I left the office, set the phone to ‘back Tuesday’ and said ‘see you tomorrow morning’.  Little did I know that would be the last time I would have been in the office and indeed Perth.

On the Wednesday night I got a call about 9pm telling me that I had been selected as a key worker to start up the Blairgowrie Activity Centre on the Thursday morning for NHS staff’s children. This was one of those moments of not knowing, how many would be there, who would I be working with, and the thought of how am I going to keep the social distancing in a play, and care environment? There are certain biblical references about being carsed out into the unknown, and this certainly felt like I was being carsed out into the unknown.

The Thursday morning I arrived at the campus, and was pleased to see that at least one familiar face was also there and equally in the dark as I was, the team was made up of 5 staff, so we puddled our way thought the 7 days that we are working together, until other staff teams were set up.

Palm on Palm Sunday on the Front Door

During Lent, as well as joining the provincial services on a Sunday, I have had the joy of being involved in an Envoy group which is organised by the Church Army. This was like a mini Xplore project, with online teaching and group discussion for each of the weeks. Xplore is a Church Army project that runs September – June each year. Xplore is for 18-30s who want to live missionally doing evangelism. It is peer led where everyone gets to do evangelism in their own context.

I wasn’t completely sure what I would make of the 6 weeks, and whether it would be right for me, but once I had agreed a time and day to meet over skype with the course facilitator Emma I felt that I would go into in with an open heart and mind. The first call was a bit difficult with technology, and it was me, Emma, and Meg, who is Children and Youth worker in Essex! This was great and allowed us to share our faith journeys and give each other some new and fresh ideas, working with children and young people. A week later the group grew from 3 to 7, as some of the other current Xplore participants joined in. This became a lovely group, we prayed for each other, and studied People of Peace. A lot of the content was reaffirming for me and found I could share a fair bit and got a lot out of the 6 weeks. This week it was the last week, as we ran over, due to the group getting bigger and technology issues for the first two weeks, I was part of the group, and it was really special at the end as each person prayed for me as I left the group, although we will stay in touch, and I prayed for all of them, as they continued their Xplore journey together. Maybe in September I will be doing the full Xplore, we will see.

View on Holy Saturday sunset.

One of the other things that has kept some faithful routine, at this strange time,  as well as the daily office, going on a walk in the evening and on a Sunday, Fife Cluster Youth Fellowship leadership team have been doing a blog or Vlog for the young people, families, and the congregation of Holy Trinity Dunfermline, I have been doing a weekly update often in the fields while on a walk and sharing about my week, You can see some of the updates on the website:  https://holytrinitychurch.org.uk/yf-social-distancing-update/  

Provincially, we are supporting our young people though this crisis. We had to cancel the Glenalmond Youth Week in August, a few weeks ago, and the leadership team, are busy planning for online activities and worship to bring young people together across the provincial, we have had so far two very good, worships  and evening prayer worships over the last few weeks. The first one being one that a few leaders, myself included planned and led, and one led by our young people. I am continually in awe at the thoughts and deep connections to faith that young people in our diocese and provincial share openly with each other, and the rest of us in the church. 

Hopefully before too long, we will be back, worshipping together in our Cathedral, and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

If you would like to share how you have been nurturing your faith in lockdown or any other article please email ku.gro.hcruhcytinirtylohnull@retsambew.

Thanks for helping us show a church is not a building it is its people during this challenging time.

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