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Minister keeps worship alive for care home residents

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By Donald Turvill
Annan and Eskdale
Minister keeps worship alive for care home residents

RELIGIOUS and spiritual traditions are just one area of life which has faced unprecedented disruption this year.

And for many of the residents at Annan Court care home, the thought of missing out on something as simple as going to church was – until the pandemic struck – unfathomable.

So it came as good news that Reverend Tom Bonnar, of Sanquhar Congregational Church, was on hand to ensure that worships could prevail safely throughout turbulent times.

Residents and staff have been streaming his online services every Tuesday afternoon, setting up a makeshift altar at their end with bread and wine to ensure that those who want to take communion can do so.

Annan Court’s activities coordinator June Fitzpatrick said: “I can’t underestimate enough what it’s brought to the residents.

“It’s the most well-attended activity in the house, every single week we have church service on a Tuesday afternoon.

“They’ve been able to take communion, I set the table with the wine and the bread and everything else and Tom does the same at his end and it’s done virtually.”

Highlighting the positive impact of Tom’s services on those living at the care home, June said: “One of my ladies, her faith is so important to her and she only came out of her room once every three weeks when we had a person from a church to come in here and sing songs and have a service. She now comes every single week for this service and she tells me it gets her through the week.

“Another one of the ladies said that she couldn’t see how we could possibly do it, how we could have communion and things like that, she’s blind that lady, but it’s so important to her.”

She added: “I know Tom from a previous job and he’s a brilliant man. The ladies love him already and they don’t know him like I do, he’s very personable.”

Tom has also been having one on one facetime calls with some of the residents to account for not being physically present at the services.

The minister said he’s been talking to them “for a general chat, mostly churchy stuff.”

He added: “Some of them are elders or have been associated with the church so they’re really missing having a service.

“I’ve really just been talking to them just about changing church, talking to individuals saying ‘how you doing, what’s your favourite hymn,’ and putting a programme together, and it’s at the stage now where I’m making the services in the back garden.”

“I’ve been involved with care homes since I was 16 years old, and that wasn’t yesterday, and wherever I’ve been working in life if there’s been a care home ,I’ve been in there just chatting away to them. This is really what’s happened as far as Annan Court is concerned, because I just got the feeling that they’re not getting anything.

“I feel part of it and they chat away to you, I’m looking forward to the time when I get down there, even if I have to speak to them through the window or something like that.”

He recently recorded a personal message for Annan Court where he thanked residents for tuning into his services. In the video he said: “It’s nice I’m able to bring something to you, I can’t wait until all this coronavirus stuff disappears so that I can come down there and sing to you in person. I’m so grateful to June and all the staff at Annan Court for making this happen as it’s so special.”

Tom’s online services are streamed live every Sunday morning on the Sanquhar Congregational Church Youtube channel and can be watched back afterwards at any time.

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