Mention “Christ Church Warwick” in 2020, and many of the Bermuda community will think of the Feeding Programme for families in need, Loads of Love laundry and their shower service or their popular Christmas Fair. In fact, Christ Church Warwick’s active and diverse community outreach programmes are making a significant impact in Bermuda and abroad and the 300-year-old church is making a buzz both in and outside their walls!
When Christ Church recognized the great need for food security due to the impact of COVID-19, they ramped up their commercial kitchen with volunteers to cook, package and deliver meals to people in Warwick who needed help. From the beginning of the lockdown and through to October 31, the church had prepared over 33,000 total meals. They are now serving approximately 7,500 meals a month which represents an average of 225 meals each day. By the end of the year, at the current rate, they will have served nearly 48,000 to the community!
Another valuable outreach programme began in 2010 when the Church noted that while there were several feeding programmes for homeless individuals, there were no laundry or shower facilities. The congregation voted to convert a small section of a workshop building into a laundry and shower and Loads of Love was born. Individuals are welcome to have a shower and have their clothes washed every Saturday morning – and parishioners and volunteers even serve them breakfast. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Loads of Love pivoted to provide all the laundry for bedding and clothing for the individuals housed at Cedarbridge.
Outreach has long been central to the mission of Christ Church. In 2003, the Church began the Bermuda Overseas Missions which has now grown into an independent Bermuda charity that is supported by a broad cross-section of the island. The Church continues to be a major supporter and Bermuda Overseas Missions has assisted in providing homes for over 120 families, impacting 500 people in 19 countries. Every year since 2003 (except 2020) Bermuda Overseas Missions has taken diverse groups of residents, with a focus on young people, to different parts of the world including Asia, Africa and South and Central America. In Malawi, they sponsored the drilling of three wells bringing potable water to villages who suffered health issues through using local ponds shared with animals.
The Church also proudly supports the Malawi School Scholarship programme. Although the Malawi Government provides free education through primary school, if a child cannot pay for upper school, the girls are generally married in their early teens and boys are sent to work. With support from Christ Church and others, Bermuda Overseas Missions is providing support for 87 students with tuition, books, and shoes so they can complete their high school education. Some of these students have now graduated and gone on to further education.
Other on-island outreach programmes include support for Lorraine Rest Home, funding for the Family Centre to assist in the purchase of school uniforms, support of the Salvation Army’s Christmas gift drive and the annual Christmas seniors party hosted by Carol Clarke and Bermuda Overseas Missions.
One of the church’s new initiatives is to provide steppingstone opportunities for individuals trying to reintegrate into society. Currently, three men from the rehabilitation programme work two days a week, three hours per day helping at the church, giving them a friendly place to help in their recovery. One of the former Loads of Love clients has recently been hired on a full-time basis by the church to assist with maintenance on the grounds and the Saturday Loads of Love programme.
In caring for the congregation, Christ Church offers activities both church and community members can enjoy together in addition to the regular Sunday worship. A good example is “Coffee and Cake,” a weekly, casual drop-in opportunity that was created for individuals to come together to share a cup of coffee and great conversation. This was very much appreciated by seniors and young moms. The church also holds a monthly “Fabulous Fridays”, which is a family evening of food and fellowship. Friday activities could include games night, a concert, a quiz or bingo. “Messy Church” is an arts and crafts family event with a meal and informal worship, which is enjoyed by all ages. “Family Movie Nights” and “After-Church Congregation Meals” are a couple of other events that bring members together. Unfortunately, many of these activities have been put on hold during the pandemic but will surely be revived once it is safe to do so.
Christ Church has a diverse congregation and members come from many different denominational backgrounds. Traditional Sunday services – which are recorded and available on their Youtube channel is supported by a fabulous organist, strong choir and bell choir. A focus on youth is important at Christ Church with their energetic youth programme still continuing through COVID with the kids meeting over Zoom. Recently, recognizing the need to concentrate on young people more fully, they have committed to hiring a youth worker in the near future.
Since 1719, Christ Church Warwick has been worshipping together to support its members and the wider Bermudian community. From their strong history, they continue to move with the times and having a stronger presence with social media and a congregation database and an outreach programme that has spread beyond our little island. Anyone wishing to join their many activities are welcome, you do not have to be a member of the congregation to participate in any of their outreach, fellowship or worship programmes. Christ Church likes to be known in the community as being a place for the community and they believe that by working together they can truly show God’s love in action.