Recently, I engaged in a productive interview with the Reverend of St Michael’s Church: Raymond Gibbs where he elucidated the ravishing impact of the pandemic on the religious community.

The Church anchors any community it resides in providing a variety of services ranging from Weddings to children support groups all of which were closed down during the pandemic and ‘financially pushed us into the ground’. Reverend Gibbs offered many more sobering and actually quite startling revelations the most impactful being that the local churches receive no government funding whatsoever and are ‘immensely grateful to the congregation’ as they are the ones who pay. Naturally, it is common knowledge that the pandemic inflicted horrific financial gashes on the country financially however there is a major oversight when it comes to our considerations since the Church was not eligible for government support and to put it more abruptly the Reverend declared “we get zilch!”. To put into context the taxing cost on the church “it costs £230 per day to heat the church buildings with the main building taking three hours to heat fully” and furthermore the harrowing and ruinous financial revelations were coupled with “we do not have £230 per day”. Desperation and sadness ooze through this account since vast quantities of politicians and the mainstream media focus on the national impact of the pandemic and the church, which acts as a communal anchor and an influential titan of the social sphere, is left in the shadow of ignorance.

People may quibble with the importance of the church but I can safely assert that the community would not effectively function either materially or spiritually were it to disintegrate. The reverend revealed to me how there was a sorrowful cost of the pandemic on the poorest in the community as “basically the Church is now a food bank and there are now ten ‘satellites’ in churches in Colchester” which was one of the most devastating points raised as the poorer members of the community are depending on financially ailing institutions who cannot help indefinitely. The Church only seeks to support people through food banks for approximately three weeks so they can direct those most in need towards more professional bodies through ‘The Trussel Trust’.

In a melancholy flashback to April with the devastating loss of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, many people flocked towards the church to offer their prayers, condolences and sorrow demonstrating a dependency on a religious community in times of national grief. I ended the interview with a final question about the future and how the church will draw upon a younger audience to which I received quite a surprising reply: “If we stay where we are and do what we do best as well as harnessing the support of the media we will attract and if we try too hard we will fail.” I am hoping to begin to fulfil the Reverend’s wishes of harnessing the media by urging people to support the Church as it sorely needs you and you certainly need it even if you do not realise it yet.