Rev Nathan: Where is the faith community at this time in the Bay?
- Credit: Archant
We are in uncharted waters of great difficulty with a greater God of endless mercy.
Many of us began 2020 with great optimism and expectation for an exceptional decade. Resolutions filled several pages, dates for key events filled our diaries but much of the change we have experienced is far from what we anticipated.
If anyone had predicted services going online then I am sure South Devon College would have put on a course just in time for ministers to be future ready.
We have all had to learn on the job how to turn our homes into filming locations, supporting a scattered community, using technology for those who can the post office for the isolated from technology.
In 2015, Kevin Dixon, a resident of Torbay predicted a decline in Christianity within Torbay citing; Death rate of the older generation, Education and the alternatives offered, and the assumption that most of those born after 1980 are atheists or agnostics as the three main reasons.
The contrast from the expected trend is staggering and it can only be credited to the prayers of many and the Holy Spirit at work in Torbay.
There are 70 congregations and 16 faith-based organisations which serve all sorts of needs within Torbay.
- 1 Sutton 0 Torquay United 1
- 2 Great performance when it mattered
- 3 Torquay United showdown at Sutton
- 4 Torbay Council confirms Anne-Marie Bond as new chief executive
- 5 Sunken Gardens work starts as lights shine bright on new future
- 6 Great fuel debate - the case for diesel
- 7 Bryony Frost recovering from National fall
- 8 The nostalgic power of music
- 9 All guns blazing from Torquay United
- 10 Adventure tourist attractions promoting Bay as premier outdoor destination
Church buildings are closed due to Covid-19 but there is a wider and larger attendance online across the Bay more than ever before.
Many homes have become houses of prayer. Many have rediscovered that God is as near as your next prayer.
During this season, we have been reminded that many people of faith are on the frontline.
Many are scattered as teachers, medics, shelf stackers, volunteers in the community, running food provisions, working for the local authority and businesses as well as other professions in rebuilding this naturally inspiring place.
The faith community seems to be much more alive than ever before.
Schools have been beacons of hope in exercising faith during this time.
As one who visits 15 schools per term, I am encouraged by the faith many have exemplified in this crisis.
These establishments have been answers to many prayers especially the most vulnerable in our society from providing food, to providing basic needs like clothes and many other acts that have turned prayer into action.
In the community, young and old have put out a good team and, so far, they are winning.
Faith is not restricted to when you were born into the world but rather when you choose to be born into a new reality and a way of life.
It is not restricted to buildings or a certain few but it is a gift to all that spreads across generations and across all divides in our community.
Faith is what drives the young and old to serve together in the different and settings within Torbay.
We are in uncharted waters and the recovery will need both our prayers and actions.
Saint Augustine once said: 'Pray as though everything depended on God and work as though everything depended on you.'
We shall be praying as a faith community and working with and alongside others in this rebuilding process.
The next stage will involve a deeper healing for all of us as we mourn for the things and people we have lost.
It is vital for us to be honest about these losses. We can be comforted that the wounded healer Jesus Christ understands loss and can be with anyone who calls on him.
May I encourage you to remain hopeful even when you don't see a way out.
That is what we call faith. It will be well.
When your need is prayer, call the helpline and we shall pray for you. For Torquay and Paignton, call 01803 446022 10am to 6pm weekdays and 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. For Brixham, call 01803 857727 9am to 4.30pm, weekdays and 01803 446022 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.