A range of digital resources (Lent and Easter Pilgrim, #FollowTheStar and #EverydayFaith) are available throughout the year as part of . These resources offer daily Bible readings, reflections and prayers.
Pip, a black-and-white springer spaniel, lies under a pew at Holy Trinity Church Hurstpierpoint. Pip is a quiet, well-behaved dog, and is now very familiar with church since Pat, his owner, started attending at Christmas after seeing a post on Facebook.
Drawn by the idea of carol singing, Pat stayed because of the friendly welcome of the church.
A former PE teacher, her weekends had always been full of sport, everything from golf to tennis, horse riding to hockey. Church had ‘never figured,’ she said.
Now, less than a year after attending the carol service with Pip, the pair are a regular feature of the congregation, and Pat has been confirmed. What made the difference? Lots of things: friendliness, inclusiveness, but also resources from the Church of England.
Pat takes up the tale. ‘I started on the Lent programme,’ she says. ‘I did it online and I read the booklet. From there, I did the Easter programme and Thy Kingdom Come. For 91 days there was daily feeding which was fantastic for me.’
The resources played to her years of teaching, she says, as she enjoyed the action points, and enjoyed listening to the videos.
What difference has this all made? ‘It’s fantastic having the love of God in my life. I feel loved now. There is a calmness in my life now that may be wasn’t there before and I’m growing in confidence too.’
Pat is just one member of the congregation who’s been using the resources. The rector, the Revd Jane Willis, says, ‘For me, being able to talk about prayer and reading the Bible has been really useful. Along the way, we have used Thy Kingdom Come and the Lent and Advent resources.
‘Lots of people had them, including people who were new to having a prayer life, so that was a great resource for them. And, there are people who had been Christians for many, many years and who were trying to grow in their faith.’
But the resources also proved to be significant in her own life. Earlier this year, Jane had an unexpected recall after a standard mammogram appointment. ‘It was a brush with death,’ she recalls.
‘I had about a week between getting the letter and my appointment,’ she says. ‘It was a really demanding time in church life. It was the week of Thy Kingdom Come. These resources are good for when it’s hard to generate words. The liturgy is a gift to us then. For a week, or 10 days, it just held me. I did morning, evening and night prayer.’
Returning for her follow-up appointment, Jane received good news. She did not have cancer.
‘It took a while to sink in,’ she says. ‘I sat in the car for an hour before I could do anything. After that, I walked up on to the Downs and listened to the app on my phone. It was wonderful.’
The resources have also been a help to another new member of the congregation. Sally Allison started to attend services in 2017. She was ‘in a bad place’, grieving the sudden death of her mother, Barbara.
‘The Lent booklet was the best £2.50 I ever spent,’ she says. ‘I was coming back to faith after life events. I lost my mum quite suddenly in 2014 and it took me so hard. I was lost. In 2017 I couldn’t get myself out of a bad place.
‘I went along to a church service. It was nice and welcoming. I heard about the Alpha course. I thought this would give me some answers, but I didn’t know what to. I went on the course in 2018. After that, I decided to have a Lent booklet. It was easy and understandable.’
The booklet led to the app, which Sally listens to regularly on her phone. ‘I go to the 8 o’clock service on Sunday. I often think about Mum there,’ she says. ‘Then I go to Tesco’s. I sit in the car park waiting for it to open and that’s my quiet time, with the Lent booklet, or Thy Kingdom Come. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray. This gives you ideas. It’s been a great guidance for me.
‘You don’t realise how long a road grief is. I’m learning to live with it, to do one day at a time. These resources have helped because I have something to focus on each morning, something to mull over. That’s a help and a strength.’
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