The Church, Coronavirus and Hope

I am so excited to have been appointed as Vicar of these five special communities, and look forward to meeting you and getting to know you. I’m interested in discussing your hopes and dreams for the life of each village, and the part you hope the church might play, whether or not you see yourself as ‘religious’. That’s the beauty of the Church of England: if you want to be a part of it, there’s a place for you. I see my role as helping as many of you as possible to find that place. My wife Netta and I look forward to making our home in the Vicarage.

But of course all that has to wait, as our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. I’m due to be licensed in Warmington church on 7th June by Bishop John Holbrook, and to start work, but it’s unclear whether that will be possible. Life has become unrecogniseable and, for some people, unbearable as they face the trauma and pain of death, magnified infinitely by social distancing.

Who could have imagined that the whole world would change so dramatically and so quickly? The skies are empty of planes, and the roads are quiet. Mounted police are filmed instructing people in public parks to go home, actions which, a matter of weeks ago, we would have said were those of a state under the rule of an oppressive dictator. Now, however, we can see the need for such actions as our communities struggle to suppress the spread of a deadly enemy. Suddenly, we have been shown just how vulnerable we are as human beings. We are seeing the world with fresh eyes, discerning what’s important and who’s important. Thus the material goods we were convinced were vital now seem trivial compared to our families and friends whose love and care are truly what gives our lives meaning. Those in society whom we often took for granted - carers, nurses, doctors - are now applauded as heroes in public displays of appreciation; those we overlooked, not least older people, are given new value. Captain Tom Moore, at the age of ninety-nine, has become a national hero by putting his new hip to good use and, in the process, raised a seven-figure sum for the NHS. One Church of England bishop has said, ‘There is nothing good about the virus, but good can come from it.’ I think he’s right.

Where is God in all this, the bad and the good? The Revd Lucy Winkett, a priest in London, reminded us this week that, ‘wherever God is, it’s not somewhere else.’ And this God, who chose to live amongst us in his Son, far from being absent from our present situation, with its pain and sorrow, as well as its opportunities to re-evaluate our lives, this God died alone, fighting for breath on a cross. Easter may already seem a distant memory but it contains the seed of hope for us all. 

May God bless you, and keep you safe.


Revd Dr Donald McFadyen,

Vicar designate of the Warmington Benefice

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Page last updated: 9th May 2020 5:40 PM