The Joy of Community

An unexpected blessing of the past year resulting from the pandemic has been the opportunity to share meetings, services and experiences across the world. Zoom really has made the world a smaller place!

Thanks to the German CCN Board, every 1st Friday in the month we have been able to share the Litany of Reconciliation and an update with CCN partners in Germany, Austria, Hungary, South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, North America, and the UK. (My apologies if I have missed your country from this list!) I am gradually becoming familiar with the regular and new faces which appear on the Zoom screen each month. It is such a pleasure to feel that we are able to connect as a community, and to hear each other’s challenges and joys.

In my own context at St Mary’s Church in Banbury (which is currently not a CCN partner organisation), we have a similar opportunity to meet up with other people from across the world on a regular basis. Last April in the early stages of the first lockdown, the Holy Spirit moved us to offer a weekly online service of Compline via Zoom on Wednesday evenings, followed by a discussion group in the Zoom Room. Blessed as we are with some remarkable technological experts in St Mary’s congregation, we decided to live-stream the service on Facebook at 8 pm, and then “come off-air” for the subsequent discussion group. After a quick catch-up with the individuals in the group, we use Table Talk cards as a basis for our weekly discussions. Remarkably since our first Compline on 22nd April 2020, we have consistently had a Zoom Room congregation of over 20 people, which I am quite sure would not happen at in-person weekday Compline in church! Our regulars check in from around Oxfordshire, as well as from across England, south west Scotland, the Scottish borders, and Norway.

Since the New Year, we have developed Wednesday evenings further. Every 3 to 4 weeks, we invite a “guest speaker” to attend Compline and then share with us some of their life and experiences in their current setting, related especially to their church context. The first week I asked my father (retired in Scotland) to talk to us about his 60 years as a priest with particular reference to the Ministry of Healing. Subsequently we have welcomed visiting speakers from Germany including Maite (a previous CCN intern from Coventry Cathedral) and Cornelia (CCN partner based in Berlin), and Sue (CCN partner located in Brussels). Our group relishes hearing about life in other countries, especially while we are unable to travel. The wonders of modern technology have allowed us to benefit from the amazing network nurtured by CCN. This sense of building a relationship with fellow Christians across the globe is extraordinary.

If you would be interested in “visiting” our discussion group, please contact me. And if you find quiet Night Prayer helpful to concluding a busy Wednesday, do listen on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/stmaryschurchbanbury/

Sarah Bourne

Chaplain for the Arts at St Mary’s, Banbury sarahbourne@banburystmary.org.uk

CCN UK Board Trustee

CCN Thought for the Week for 19th March – Sarah Bourne, St Mary’s, Banbury
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