A new normal?

Whilst we have been unable to meet in person, Paul and the Wardens have been meeting via Skype twice a week, since the middle of March. We have also been holding regular video meetings with Ruth, Stephanie and Ian so that “the office” can continue to function smoothly. This week saw a first in St Andrew’s history, as not only did our Council meeting last less than 50 minutes from start to finish, but it was also the first time that the occasion was held using on-line video calling. Also this week, eleven members of our youth group held their first Zoom meeting and enjoyed a lively evening of what can best be described as on-line Pictionary.

It felt slightly ironic therefore, as we continue to develop virtual ways of meeting and worshiping together, for Paul and the Wardens to be stood together (well, at an acceptable social distance) inside the church building this morning. As we look ahead, we are working to establish what changes may be needed to meet possible Federal requirements as the restrictions on group gatherings are relaxed. Obviously, it is impossible for us to make any definite plans until the end of May, when the Federal authorities make a further announcement. In the meantime though, we’ve been getting the tape measures and two-metre sticks out and coming up with ideas which we can discuss with council and those involved in the running of the church, once we have a clearer idea of what the requirements will be.

Once thing which is certain is that it will be quite some time, if at all, before we fully return to the normal day-to-day behaviours and activities of before. This is not just restricted to church life, as schools and work places also begin to establish a “new-normal” way of working. It doesn’t just stop there. Many of us are all too aware of the impact upon sporting activities, theatres and choirs. It has been incredible to see the effort and imagination that has gone into finding ways of keeping the arts alive on-line. One day, we will be able to experience these things again in person, as a live event. In the meantime, we can enjoy a wide variety of theatrical and musical performances on-line.

One such example is the singing group, “The Sofa Singers” set up by vocal leader, author and musician, James Sills from North Wales, which enables people from all over the world to take part in a mass singalong via video. There are 500 digital spaces available ­– all offered for free. People can sign up to the choir in advance using a video conferencing app, receiving a link from Sills to the online rehearsal space. They are then able to see and hear Sills, who leads the group through a song bit by bit. The tune of choice, to capture a spirit of resilience and global unity has so far been, “Stand By Me”, which was originally performed in 1961 by US singer and songwriter Ben E. King. The group has also been singing a segue into “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, with optional harmonies and backing vocals.

Crucially, participants ­are also able to see each other on-screen during the 45-minute rehearsal (though not able to hear each other, due to the technical issues that would create). Sills encourages everyone to sing with a smile. “This is a really important part of The Sofa Singers,” he said, “as it helps everyone feel more connected.” The guidance on the website for the project encourages participants to “sing as if no one is listening…
because they won’t be!”
You can find out more abut The Sofa Singers, by clicking here to go to their website, https://www.thesofasingers.com/

If you’d prefer to watch rather than take part, you may want to click here to find out more about the many stage shows, musicals and opera you can now watch online for free.

For example, until 8pm on Sunday 17th May, you can watch the stage production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS, one of the most famous musicals of all time, which first exploded onto the West End stage in 1981. Click here, or below, to watch the star cast, including Elaine Paige and Sir John Mills.

If you enjoyed watching this show, please consider donating to NHS Charities COVID19 Appeal: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/…

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