“We have been encouraged in the diocese to be ourselves and offer the skills that we have in this time of lockdown. I have a real joy in sharing the gospel with primary-aged school children and was sad to think that this might stop in lock down. I am the Vicar to Cam Hopton Church of England school and regularly go in for collective worship and RE. In keeping in touch with the headteacher, she asked if I could offer anything to the children in school and in particular, collective worship. Children are trying to grasp onto the familiar, to see familiar faces and hopefully be reassured that one day they will get back to what they know. I thought it was important for the children to see me, to build on the format of collective worship that was familiar in our school, with known opening sentences and maybe a grace at the end.
“I had begun to learn how to use Zoom and realised that this was an easy way to record something and send it to others. When you finish the meeting which you have had recorded, Zoom processes it and sends you the recording as an mp4 file. This can be played directly or put into an editing program like iMovie and modified before sending it on. Needless to say my IT skills have been honed in the last few weeks. I am grateful for a willing husband who has assisted with IT as well as being a puppeteer. So, then all I needed for a collective worship was a subject matter, a puppet script and a craft activity. I have been aware of the importance of talking about feelings during this time and it seemed a good area to try and tackle.
“In the collective worship that I attach to this article, we looked at praise – what is it and who do we praise? We hope to be able to set up a prayer and praise wall in school so that children both at home and at school, can find a way to express what has been good during these times and what they need to ask God help with. A small prayer team for the school will join in with this too. Our other recordings are also up on our St George’s channel, set up during lockdown. We recorded this session mainly on a camcorder but previously, we have recorded via a Zoom meeting.
“Fortunately I was able to post, not just to school for the staff to use these collective worships, but also to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Facebook page so that children at home, via their parents, could see it. I have not always used a puppet, but Bob is quite popular! It has been great to see some of the children out on our daily exercise and the parents have thanked me for the collective worship. My parishioners have also enjoyed them as I have shared them to our church Facebook page and YouTube channel. This has had the bonus of them sharing it with their grandchildren so I do not actually know in how many homes the sessions have been seen.
“I have learned the hard way that it is better to promise less and survive in these extraordinary times. This means playing to our strengths and finding things that are life-giving. Comparison is dangerous and generally unhealthy, so in this time of doing things differently, we need to find our own ways of sharing the good news that is right for us. I offer this as only just one example of school ministry in these times.”