Mission Director, Richard Bromley, looks back on the past 6 months when the Covid-19 lockdown started.

I do not think any of us fully realised how long the implications of the coronavirus pandemic would be with us. Certainly, I thought I might be working from home for a month or so and never expected to still be operating in this way.

Like others, ICS has been hugely affected and the most obvious impact has been the cancellation of all our Resort Mission this summer. It simply became impossible to operate in Corfu and Switzerland in the way that we normally would. It was not safe for the chaplains and as it was, travel was so restricted that it became impossible. Added to that was the uncertainty about whether gatherings would even be allowed. Most of our chaplains, like us, were locked down and this generated a huge amount of creativity and energy in finding ways to connect and care for those that we serve and work alongside. I was so impressed by the way chaplains got to grips with technology, new and old.

Knowing that the mission partners were at various stages of lockdown, with all the challenges that this brought, we wanted to make sure that chaplains were resourced as effectively as possible. Though the ICS Conference could not happen in person, we were still able to run a magazine-type Zoom conference for three days when it should have taken place. This involved worship, interviews, bible teaching and breakout groups where people could pray and support each other. Simon Ponsonby, who was booked as our bible teacher, did an amazing job of presenting online and the whole experience, while no substitute for the real thing, was an excellent moment in a difficult time. After this we continued meeting once a week doing workshops around key issues and challenges to do with the pandemic as ministers and chaplains. These were well received, we covered subjects such as: How to unlock, Using Alpha online and Leading at a time like this. We were able to get specialists in to introduce the topic and then spend time in discussion groups. This is something that we will carry on doing as it has been so well received.

We are delighted that we managed to keep up all the normal forms of communication: the magazine, the prayer update, etc. Social media continued and became a valuable point of contact for people and we started producing prayer videos. With so many prayer groups not able to meet it was a way of sharing the needs in a short snappy way. Again, this is something we will continue. In fact, there have been many things we learned during this season that will change the way we act in the future.

The other new area for us was doing the AGM by Zoom. It became obvious that we were not able to meet in person in London, it was neither sensible nor practical in the end. It was great to have over eighty people from the UK, France, Switzerland and Belgium engaging on the zoom call, able to hear something of where ICS has been in 2019, a little bit about the thoughts for the future in 2020 and then to be inspired by Clive Atkinson the chaplain from All Saints, Vevey about the ministry he has been pioneering over the years there. The video of my report is available on our YouTube channel.

ICS is on the move, we are actively adapting and serving the ministry that God has called us to. It is possible for good things to happen during bad times and one of the gifts of being a relatively small agency is that we can be agile and adapt amidst challenges we face.

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