THE senior pastor at Jersey’s Freedom Church has spoken of the ‘heart-breaking stories’ of those facing financial hardship in the Island.
Tim Bond, senior pastor at the church, which has recently moved back to its home in the former Odeon cinema, said that demand for the support the church gave to vulnerable members of the community had increased significantly with the current cost-of-living crisis.
‘With the various catastrophes – not just cost of living but the war in Ukraine – I’m so grateful for groups like The Salvation Army, the Grace Trust and the various church organisations because there is so much need at the moment. The stories we are hearing are heartbreaking of people in difficult situations,’ Mr Bond said.
Each week between 70 and 100 people benefit from the Freedom Church’s ‘giveaway’ sessions at which clothing and a range of other items from books to DVDs are given to those in need.
Like other churches in the Island, the Freedom Church has also had to respond to the new circumstances of the post-pandemic world. Mr Bond said that, having led a nomadic life while its premises were being refurbished – holding services in the open air and borrowing premises at St Paul’s Church – the organisation had not had to coax people back to church, nor to market itself.
But he recognised that Covid and its psychological impact had created new circumstances.
‘I see church as a family and if we look back four years our family is very different. We have never had the desire just to go back but to ask what’s different now and how do we connect with people in order to remain flourishing for the people of Jersey. Everything that we have been through has to be seen as an opportunity and every challenge has the potential to be met if we can look at life in that way,’ he said.
Mr Bond stressed that the pandemic had reinforced the fact that the church and its mission did not ultimately depend on being able to meet in a physical building or to turn up to a particular weekly slot. ‘The church is the people and we continued to be that throughout Covid and to support those who are marginalised or vulnerable in the community,’ he said.
Nevertheless, the church developed a digital offering for those who, as restrictions on public gatherings were relaxed, did not feel they could attend a physical gathering but still wanted to remain connected. Some 50 to 80 people regularly take advantage of the streaming of services, he added.