Pastoral Letter

Friday, 16th October 2020


Dear Friends,

I was listening to the radio and was interested in a report saying we were experiencing two pandemics – The COVID-19 one and the pandemic of loneliness. Before the Covid Pandemic, 55,000 people took part in the BBC Loneliness Experiment making it the biggest survey of its kind in the world. Interestingly the group who felt the loneliest were young people, but the survey shows that loneliness can affect people of all ages and situations. Some interesting conclusions were drawn from the study: people who had more online friends were more likely to feel lonely, people can feel ashamed of feeling lonely, and being lonely is not the same as being alone. Many other interesting conclusions are mentioned.

For many loneliness has been exasperated by COVID and the restrictions we are facing, but more fundamentally than that, maybe the way our whole society is organised, and the way we live and work are disconnected us from other people, our local community and even the natural world can induce a general level of loneliness. As one person put it “I’m surrounded by people but I still feel lonely”.

This is a huge topic and cannot be addressed in this one letter, but maybe we can make one or two reflections. On one level we can probably all say at some point in our lives we have experienced a degree of loneliness and so know what is feels like; we know that loneliness has been exacerbated during these COVID days, and we can think too what are the things of our faith that can help us in our times of loneliness and help us reach out to others.

Our faith gives us a place within a community. It was noted in the report on the radio that over the last 20/30 years or so pop songs have tended to be more about ‘I’ and ‘me’, as opposed to ‘us’ and ‘our’. The Christian Faith is both but we never lose our sense of deep community and what that means to share and live in connection to one another and the wider world.

A favourite word in Charles Wesley’s hymns is the word ‘all’. In COVID times we are challenged to live out this all, this sense of being connected and there for one another. A great effort has been made been done to put this into practice over recent months to ease this sense of loneliness and to help people and ourselves feel connected.

There is a very moving and beautiful poem by Erin May Kelly called ‘Loneliness – it won’t last for ever’. You can listen to it on the internet here and I found it very helpful and moving.

Blessing and peace

Revd Hazel Cook
Chisworth, Dukinfield, Gee Cross, Hollingworth, Stalybridge