A third of churches in the Sheffield region have taken advantage of a fund to help improve online access during the pandemic.
The Diocese of Sheffield has offered grants of up to £500 each to 180 parishes, covering 1.2 million people, with around 60 taking up the offer since it launched in October 2020.
So far approximately £30,000 has been spent to improve the online services for churches in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Goole. Each church has also spent around £1,000 of its own money, to provide Sunday services and funerals online.
During the Coronavirus crisis, the Church has offered support to parishioners through phone calls, online services, foodbanks and pastoral care.
The Reverend John Marsh, part of the central team which supports churches across the diocese, said: “There has been a huge amount of loss and grief throughout the pandemic – either from COVID, or something else.
“There is a huge amount of grief that hasn’t been properly processed. I think we may see quite a lot of memorial services to give people the opportunity to express that loss and grief.”
The Reverend Marsh said he believes the churches are prepared to deal with the negative effects of the pandemic, also to help rebuild communities once it is over.
“People will be desperate for community, and to get together, which I think that the Church can facilitate and create.
“I think you’ll see a lot of coffee mornings and opportunities for this.
“The Church is in a good position to help people reconnect with each other.”
There has been an increase in people attending church services during the pandemic, with them being provided online. This has led to calls for the Church to maintain an online presence alongside its physical one once the pandemic is over.
This support is not just limited to church-goers, churches also provide assistance to the local community through coffee mornings, mother and toddler groups, and foodbanks. While these may be restricted due to the pandemic, access to social groups is available online. Foodbanks have operated as usual.
Parishes wishing to access support from the diocese can call 01709 309 100.