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Church under lockdown: Gospel Oak vicar reopens church as ‘safe space to lament and heal’

PUBLISHED: 15:56 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:56 23 June 2020

Mother Carol Barrett Ford with Imam Bodrul outside of St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mother Carol Barrett Ford

Mother Carol Barrett Ford with Imam Bodrul outside of St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mother Carol Barrett Ford

Archant

After a busy lockdown spent doing her best to look after the vulnerable in her flock, Mother Carol Barrett Ford was delighted to reopen St Martin’s Church in Gospel Oak last week.

Parishioners return to St Martin's, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mother Carol Barrett FordParishioners return to St Martin's, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mother Carol Barrett Ford

Mother Carol paid tribute to the work done by interfaith groups in Gospel Oak, including the Queen’s Crescent Community Association, and said she was proud of how the community had come together during the crisis.

She said: “I have the privilege of working in a vibrant and diverse community here in Gospel Oak. Alongside our faith friends and community partners we have worked to support our neighbourhood during a very different Lent and Ramadan and at a time of collective difficulty.”

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Opening the doors of the church twice a week – on Wednesdays between 12 and 1, and on Sunday 10.30 until 11 – is the first step in trying to slowly get back to normal, Mother Carol explained.

She said it had been wonderful to welcome parishioners back, and she had been thrilled that the Imam Bodrul, from the Baitul Aman Mosque, was the first visitor.

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She added: “There has been dreadful loss of life and all places of worship – including St Martin’s – offer a safe space to lament and heal.

“But they are also places of hope for the future.”

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Mother Carol said that, after deciding against streaming any services during lockdown because she worried about digital poverty and creating a two-tier system, her ministry had been focused on “boots on the ground” work.

The former Hampstead schoolteacher continued: “Most of what I’ve been doing has been pastoral, making sure that people are getting on alright. There’s been a real sense of togetherness.”

She said the hope was “reassure our visitors that our church is a safe environment to pray and to reconnect with the community and old friends”. During the crisis we have been heartened to see new friendships forged, neighbours talking where they didn’t before and true kindness from the community.”

very week I’ve been doing deliveries to the housebound, and though I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for updates, the main way I’ve been reaching the community has been boots on the ground.


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