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Top Church during the Coronavirus pandemic

Published: 16th April 2020

Like all our churches, Top Church in Dudley has been working out how to ‘be church’ while our church buildings are closed. They’ve set up a YouTube Channel, used Zoom for prayer meetings, investigated new ways for people to give financially and are working in partnership with other community groups.

“We decided to put together pre-recorded services rather than live stream,” said the Vicar, James Treasure. “It gives us a chance to forward plan and there are more opportunities for others to be involved. We’ve had lots more people being part of the service than we would do if we were in church – in some ways it’s revitalised our ministry!” 

The Top Church team has also uploaded other videos, including Stations of the Cross and they are planning to produce films of people reading different psalms. They host live prayers via Zoom at 9am and 4pm. “It’s important to us that the worship is participatory, so Zoom seemed like the best solution,” said James. “We’re aware there have been some security issues and everyone entering the meeting has to be approved by the host; usually our Director of Worship. He’ll check with me if there’s anyone he’s unsure of asking to join. It’s been very well received and we are now looking at also starting a night prayer so more people can join us.” 

Stopping Sunday worship in person has inevitably hit Top Church’s income and the team have set up a number of different ways to enable people to continue to contribute financially. “From the start of the resourcing church, we’ve encouraged people to give through the Parish Giving Scheme, so thankfully we’re not quite as reliant on Sunday donations as some churches, but while it was important to be mindful of the current financial uncertainty for some, we still wanted to look at offering a range of ways for people to give,” explained Director of Operations, Nathan Conway. 

In the past couple of weeks, Top Church has set up a ‘text to give’ service using and online giving through their website using a new service from the ‘give a little’ app, which they were already using for their Sum-up contactless giving machine in church.

“Both services were very easy to set up and use,” continued Nathan. “Text to give simply requires a charity number. There is no set up or subscription fee, but Donr does take 5% of transactions. I think this service is as close to a Sunday collection plate as it’s possible to get in the digital world. We’ve set up keywords to text to a short number in a way that will be familiar to people with other charity appeals. It doesn’t require a smart phone, or an internet connection. The only issue we’ve found is that some networks don’t allow extra charges.” 

“We’ve only just set up the online giving. Because we were already using the ‘give a little app’, they got in touch to say they were thinking about setting up the service. The web page looks exactly the same as the contactless giving app appears on the tablet we have in church and people can choose an amount to give or pick their own.” 

These different ways of giving will be important to Top Church going forward, not just during the Coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on giving and how we share information on our finances,” said Nathan. I’ve already started forward planning for when we go back into the church building; how we can better explain the importance of giving to our ministry and removing barriers to giving. Once we’re back in church, there will be seven different ways in which people can donate money to us!” 

The Top Church team has also involved itself in a number of community initiatives taking place in Dudley. They have become part of the Dudley CVS team delivering food and medical supplies to people in need and have been continuing to provide chaplaincy to the charity CHADD through videos, emails and prayer requests. They are talking to a local doctor about asylum seekers and each Wednesday a volunteer team goes to the Black Country Foodbank to do the stocking, packaging and distribution of food parcels to those who need the service. 

“The way we’re doing church has changed, but we’re definitely still here and doing as much as we can to continue to serve our community and share the love of Jesus both in person (from a distance!) and digitally!” Said James. 

Page last updated: Friday 22nd May 2020 8:06 AM

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