Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Preserving our lockdown stories

Churches have played an important part in our nations’ 2020 pandemic story, says Kinder Librarian and archivist Judith Bright, but unless we record our experiences, our faith communities’ insights will likely be lost in the story.

Taonga News  |  20 Nov 2020  |

When Kinder Librarian Judith Bright saw the National Library of New Zealand –Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa call for Covid-19 responses from individuals, families and communities, she realised straight away Anglicans would need to act too. 

“We need to make sure Anglicans across the tikanga take a record of what happened during lockdown right now, before life goes back to normal and our memory of this time is lost.” she said.

Judith Bright knows it won’t be long before someone decides to study what Anglicans here did during the 2020 pandemic. She warns that unless we gather those records now, the archives will be left with a patchy picture when researchers come knocking. 

“We will have publications from our dioceses and hui amorangi and our synod minutes, but without noting down what happened it will only get harder to recall personal stories from people serving in our local communities this year.”

Judith says that taking records may be as simple as writing down how your parish adapted to the lockdowns, answering questions like:

What changed for you?

Who took part in your new or changed ministries?

Who turned up online?

Who organised and took part in pastoral responses: such as front gate visits, food deliveries, or contacting isolated or bereaved people by phone?

What feedback did you receive on what you were doing in lockdown?

How did it change what you did after lockdown ended?

Now that we are in Level 1, how are people looking back on their feelings and responses to life in Level 4 and Level 3?

What would you do differently if you knew this would happen again?

According to Judith Bright it’s also important to gather a good spread of how our church responded to the Covid Alert Levels. While some communities went online, others took to their phones. Some Anglicans turned their isolation into a retreat, while others struggled with grief as loved ones died and funerals couldn’t happen. Others still offered a helping hand to community members needing to escape domestic violence or dealing with mental health challenges.

A good survey needs voices from across our whole church. That means not only from Māori, Pākehā and Polynesian church communities, but also not from beyond the bigger city parishes.

“It would be good to make sure we all have records in our files so we know how Anglicans in small towns or rural areas lived as the church in lockdown, as well as Cathedrals and suburban churches, house churches, worship in whānau or small online groups.”

Archives on the Anglican response this year could take a similar form to what the National Library has asked for, to include : creative writing, video, oral histories, drawings, photographs, and written reflections on how Covid-19 changed life for Anglican communities. 

For  help on how to record your faith community’s experience on social media, visit the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Saving your social media page which has tips on saving files from platforms like Youtube, Facebook, TikTok or Twitter, as well as information on what formats to use when saving video or images.

But Judith says, if there’s nothing like a sheet of paper with the story of what you did popped into the next set of minutes called “Our 2020 pandemic lockdown response”, or “What we did in the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020”.

“In 20 years time, none of the online platforms we use everyday will necessarily be around.”

“To protect us from those changes in technology, a record on a piece of paper is a great back-up. 

“Printed screenshots from a selection of online videos and a paper record of the online services your parish or whānau did by Zoom during the Alert Levels may be the best record that survives.”

“Now’s the time to jot down your own records – before recollections fade – so we make sure the Church is present in this moment in history – in every different way we took part in our communities.”