Lockdown has been a time of great uncertainty and anxiety – and yet, it has also been a time of unity and love, as the UK church, empowered by God, has rallied together and stepped out in faith to serve each other and those around them.

I have been heartened and encouraged by the steps that I, as membership team leader at the Evangelical Alliance, have seen or heard our members – churches, organisations and individuals alike – take in order to serve communities and the body of Christ. Permit me to spotlight a couple of these acts of Christ-centered kindness, and in so doing give thanks to our God for making possible all that the UK church is doing during this time. 

This week it was revealed that Stewardship was able to raise nearly £5m for churches and charities that would be able to have an immediate impact during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity, known for generosity, gave this money to 88 churches and charities within 100 days of the lockdown starting, so that they could meet the ever-increasing needs around them. 

Victims of domestic violence; black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities badly affected by the pandemic; the bereaved; those suffering with mental health issues; ex-offenders; vulnerable young people; and those with addictions or hindered by food poverty are among the many groups in our communities that have benefited from grants of £10,00025,000.

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CEO Stewart McCulloch said they could see that churches and charities needed urgent help to respond to the rapidly growing needs around them, so the team did all it could to provide financial support. Isn’t it true that Stewardship’s rapid response fund’ and the wonderful work charities and churches have been able to carry out as a result show God’s ability to provide for and through His people? May we give thanks to God for financial provision and generosity.

Imagine, this is just one example of God at work through His united church during this pandemic! Another can be seen at Cross Gate Church in Preston, which set up 17 hubs within a 10-mile radius of the city to both practically and spirituality serve their members and the wider community. 

Cross Gate Church has been delivering around 200 meals each week to isolated and vulnerable people and ensuring essential food parcels are given to those in need. Working with charities including Christians Against Poverty (CAP) and Inside Out, the church has also provided much-needed support for people in Preston. Then, by collaborating with other local churches, Cross Gate has been a source of encouragement for prison workers and those in care homes by delivering 3,000 flowers and thank you notes to staff. 

Cross Gate is also keen to meet spiritual needs at this time, so it has been live streaming the Alpha course. Surely I’m not the only one who’s excited to hear that more and more people are connecting to the church for the first time through their online Sunday services. And this is on top of their weekly online prayer meeting, held with other churches in Preston, which sees 200 – 300 people tune in to pray together for their communities and the UK. May we give thanks to God for initiative, partnership, reach and inspiration.

Do something for me. Multiply these two examples by 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 even. The Evangelical Alliance has tens of thousands of members, and through the phone calls we made to church and charity leaders at the beginning of the lockdown, and the survey we carried out a couple of months later in May, we know that all our members are just as active, doing their bit to ensure the church is faithfully serving each other and the communities across our land. Again, may we give God thanks.

It is nothing short of beautiful when we come together. Life-changing action takes place as we show Christ-like love to those around us. It is clear that while our church doors may be shut (or now slowly reopening), the church is still active. God is on the move, and He is using His people all over the country to be a source of love, help and peace at this time. Thank you, God!

1 Peter reads: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (4:10). As we move forward and restrictions start to ease, let us continue to work together, empowered by God’s Spirit, to serve those around us, reaching out to others with sincere love. Let us also be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12), as we seek to reflect the light of Christ in this time of grief, pain and suffering. 

It is nothing short of beautiful when we come together.