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Baptist church opens doors for prayer to help people after 'traumatic' weeks

by Tola Mbakwe

A church in North Somerset that didn't usually open their doors for private prayer before the Coronavirus pandemic is now doing so. 

Clevedon Baptist Church has set up what they call a  'Hope Space' in collaboration with charities Hope Together UK and 24/7 Prayer in Clevedon.

The aim is to provide a spiritually and physically safe space for people to reflect and pray seven days a week.

Senior minister of the church Antony Wareham told Premier: "We are located right in the town centre right, so as the shops opened up, it was a symbol that the church, although we had been very much alive and doing things over recent months, was also opening its doors. 

"We have a really strong connection with our local community, so it's one way we could reconnect with our local community and be available for people to come in if they want to."

The 'Hope Space' has been well-received by the community so far with people visiting who haven't been to the church before. 

"I do think for people who are not used to coming to church regularly, especially after quite traumatic weeks some people have been going through, to be able to step back into a church building may be helpful," Wareham said. 

Elsewhere across England, churches that traditionally have private prayer are celebrating finally being able to allow people in after the government gave permission on 13th June. 

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester wrote a letter to local MPs two weeks ago asking for this next stage to be allowed and is delighted that the country has arrived at this point. 

He told Premier that although Christians can pray anywhere, there is something special about being able to pray in the house of God, even if coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing and using hand sanitiser are in place. 

"It is unusual, but on the other hand it is familiar space," Bishop Martin said. 

"You know, this is still the church. This is where the altar is. This is where the lectern is from which the word of God is proclaimed. This is where the holy space where we have been familiar with worshiping God still exists. And it's a space which speaks to us about prayer across centuries. 

"And so all of those things reassure us that in the lockdown we have not lost our roots and origins as a Christian people, and the place where which we think of as the house of God, the house of the church is still is still there."

The earliest churches in England can open for communal worship is 4th July.

Listen to Premier's interview with Bishop Martin Warner here: 

Listen to Premier's interview with Antony Wareham and his wife Jo here: 


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