Authors: John Bryson*, University of Birmingham, Lauren Andres, University College London , Andrew Davies, University of Birmingham
Topics: Economic Geography, Religion and Belief Systems , Cultural Geography
Keywords: COVID-19, inclusion and access, online services, improvisation, churches, religion
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 39
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Churches play an important role in supporting and connecting people in place. This role includes baptisms, funerals and supporting families through lifechanging events. During COVID-19, across the globe, churches played a critical role in providing pastoral care to congregants and members of the wider community, providing meals for those sheltering as well as food and medical supplies along with support to enhance mental wellbeing for those afraid and lonely. When lockdown and wider restriction measures, linked to social distancing, led to the closure of places of worship, churches had to improvise alternative solution.
The paper develops a multidisciplinary analysis combining geography, theology and planning to explore the reconfiguration of the relationships between church, people, and place in response to the impacts of pandemic regulations. Multi-level adaptation by churches to COVID-19 is explored by drawing upon bricolage and improvisation and co-evolutionary adaptation as frameworks to interpret the lived experience of churches who reconfigured new pathways to support households and their parishes. This includes understanding the evolutionary nature of these adaptations as pandemic regulations altered, including the introduction of online or virtual services and then the development of bi-modal approaches combining church-based with online provision. Improvisations in pastoral and social care intended to support the post-COVID-19 recovery process are explored including visitation, wellbeing support and food delivery programmes, sometimes delivered collaboratively. The paper also explores the emergence of a new geography of the home focusing on worship spaces, moving beyond our July 2020 paper on this topic (Bryson et al., 2020).