A Croydon congregation is donating food, livestreaming its services and praying together every night despite separation during Holy Week.
Revd Catherine Tucker, vicar at Croydon’s Holy Saviour Church, St Saviours Road, and area dean for Croydon North, has assembled ten volunteers to go shopping for the vulnerable, and hosts live church services on her own Twitter account.
She thinks the Covid-19 lockdown is bringing people together – churchgoers, non-churchgoers and people from other religions too.
Revd Tucker said: “We’re not just a club of people who worship, what we believe in makes us want to be people who are serving the community.”
Holy Saviour Church is collecting food donations for Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA), and the 100-strong congregation made its first donation on March 28, donating two crates worth of essentials.
They plan to make similar donations every two weeks.
CVA employees, meanwhile, just worked their first weekend as the group extended its opening hours to 10am to midday, seven days a week.
CVA’s interim resource centre manager Shalina Alabaksh said: “We’ve really upped our game because we recognise that Covid-19 doesn’t stop at 5 o’clock on a Friday evening.”
Miss Alabaksh also echoed Revd Tucker’s sentiment that Easter alone would be tough for those self-isolating, regardless of faith.
To help those who do have faith, Revd Tucker has been livestreaming services from the vicarage since March 22, and will continue doing so until lockdown is over.
She also sends emails to the congregation on Fridays.
Churchgoers are encouraged to light a candle in the window and pray at 7pm every night, so they can know they are praying together.
Revd Tucker is ringing the church bell and then praying at that time, so hasn’t seen the candles herself, but she said congregation members have told her they do it.
Holy Week started on Sunday, the week before Easter and a significant period for Christians.
“Through that whole week normally people would be at church a lot,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be very sad for people, I think that will hurt the Christian community anyway.”
However, there is solidarity from elsewhere: a non-churchgoer who helps tend church gardens is one of the shopping volunteers, and a nearby mosque sent a supportive email.
“I feel as though this is cutting across the religious divide, and those who are not religious, people are just seeing their local area as important,” said Revd Tucker.