Community meetings and adapting to online worship: Local community Vicar reflects on past year

Date published: 16 February 2021
Reverend Watson outside St Mary's Church, Welton
Revd Adam Watson

Early last year, Community Leaders and members of the public in the Welton and Dunholme villages met at a Sports Complex to discuss just how they were going to help each other through the global pandemic.

As restrictions were beginning to become a reality, decisions were quickly made on how to help neighbours and those most vulnerable with shopping, pharmacy and pastoral needs, according to the local Vicar for the villages, Reverend Adam Watson.

Reverend Watson, who has been the Vicar for the surrounding areas for the past seven years, is proud of how the community reacted, and has reacted since, during the course of the last 12 months.

He said: “It’s been fantastic. If you go from the start, as we were approaching that first lockdown, it was very clear that as a community we needed to do something; there was a meeting that was held up at Manor Park, up at the Sports Complex, where various community leaders got together from Welton and Dunholme, and members of the community were invited to come along because people had started to lookout for their neighbours, on social media for instance, a group had sprung up to help get shopping for neighbours, and that meeting right at the start of the pandemic allowed the community to spring into action to ensure that people’s needs were met.

“These were people’s practical needs too; shopping and pharmaceutical needs but also pastoral needs – numbers were given for example, for a pastoral team at the church; we had people willing – if people were feeling scared or anxious and wanted to talk to somebody - to sit at the end of the phone and have those conversations and offer friendship if people needed that.”

This community spirit has helped residents get through the pandemic throughout the last year, according to Reverend Watson, who admits just watching how people interact while out walking their dog is a clear example of how much everyone wants to help each other.

He said: “When you go out for a walk, you see people looking out for each other. That’s happened very naturally and that’s what you want.

“We had a generous local resident who owns a Lincolnshire milkshake business – who had a stock of milk that was going to go out of date, so on the day when people were told they had to stay in their locality, on the day that was going to come in, we grabbed 100s of pints of milk and went around distributing them to people who needed it or wanted it.

“There are a lot of little stories like that in the community where people have just wanted to help their neighbour or help each other and I think a lot of that friendship and goodwill has continued. I know people who are still going and fetching people their shopping and they have been doing that for almost a year now, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

Just like many other residents, businesses and organisations, Church services in the area have had to adapt to continue running in the Covid-19 era, with many services now having to take place online due to Government restrictions, and to keep people safe.

Though this has meant that videoing content and editing has now become part of the usual routine, Reverend Watson is keen to look at the benefits and the bright side of the situation.

He said: “Our church meetings, for example, we can now do on Zoom, for those that can get online – that’s been a bit of a revolution. No longer do I have to travel to another part of the county, to go to a meeting, we can just do it online – as a result, we can save on fuel, help save the environment and save on time too, so that’s good!”

Funerals and emergency weddings can take place under Government guidelines – with all other forms of worship currently taking place online – an adaption which has received positive reaction from residents, as well as views as far away as Canada and Australia!

Reverend Watson continued: “It’s been really positive from all the feedback we have had from the community and the worshipping community. People have been grateful that there has been something from the community, something local, with people that they can recognise contributing to the services.

“Interestingly, we are getting views from people in our local community, but due to the wonders of online statistics, we can see we have had people tuning in from Australia and Canada and other places as well. That’s been interesting to see; I think there may have been people who have lived here before and moved away, tuning in.

“Though our Church buildings aren’t currently open for worship, a pop-up post office has remained open at St Chad’s Church twice a week; for many people in the community who aren’t able to travel elsewhere, they can continue to do their banking and posting. Since the first lockdown, the church building at St Mary’s has hosted an outreach of the Lincoln Larder, which has been amazing.”

Reflecting on his role in the community, Reverend Watson admitted it was and is a privilege to meet all different types of people in such a close-knit community.

He said: “In these villages, there is such a strong sense of community, and there’s always lots of things going on; the villages have their own identity – there is a heart to the community and the people who live here. It is great to engage with that in various ways throughout the year!”

Reverend Watson is also the Chaplain to Chairman of the Council, and local Welton and Dunholme District Councillor, Steve England.

Cllr England said: “Every resident in Welton, Dunholme and all the surrounding villages have played their part magnificently in this last 12-months. The case study outlined above is yet another example of how our residents, no matter who they are or how they can contribute, have contributed above and beyond what could be expected. I have never been prouder to be a District Councillor.

“To all those that continue to provide essential services, and to all those volunteering to help their neighbours or their communities stay connected, and stay healthy and positive, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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