2020 Emergency Community Support Fund Grant recipient. “Every step that we can take to improve the quality of life for someone is a worthwhile one.”
A long-time parishioner who had always attended in person was in lockdown in the long-term care facility where she lives. She was given a tablet to watch the services online. After the first Sunday, a number of ladies expressed interest in watching the services online with her. A week later the facility had set up the service to be viewed on a large screen T.V. so that a greater number of residents could watch the service. They enjoyed the service even more due to the quality of the production; they felt it added to their experience of St. Mark’s digital worship.
Another parishioner said that it would have been very hard on her not “going to the church which she has attended all her life”. She felt that she had been able to keep going to church, albeit in a very different, new and modern way which has made her very happy.
Another writes, “We [my husband and I] are most fortunate. The chance to be guided and to share with others our spiritual journeys together from week to week has had great meaning for us. Having that virtual support which was easily accessed certainly filled what would have been an enormous void in our lives. We would have felt almost as in mourning for the loss of our so important extended family. None of our children live close by so even when things lifted a bit from complete lockdown we still could not have them here. We are very, very fortunate to still (being over 80) have the wherewithal to have been able to participate in the online opportunities offered to us.”
Social connection is key to a healthy life, but the pandemic has significantly disrupted those connections. Recent public health studies have linked chronic loneliness to the risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline and dementia. People who are lonely are more prone to depression. Loneliness and a lack of social interaction are also predictive of suicide among older people.
With the parish online services reaching over 10,000 views since they began in March, the full benefit of providing digital worship may never be completely comprehended. St. Mark’s is grateful to be supported by the grant funding that helped make it possible.