Spiritual Perspectives on the Pandemic

Spiritual Perspectives on the Pandemic

Organised by Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell

A series of 5 talks by different speakers on 12, 19, 26 and 2 April (The first was held on the 5th March)

These Talks and Discussions have been developed jointly by the six churches in Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell.  They are held in the Methodist Church Hall, Station Road, Balsall Common CV7 7EE on Saturday mornings of Lent.  All are welcome – whether attending a church or not.

Because of the pandemic we have reorganised how these take place.  We will open at 9 when Tea/Coffee and Danish Pastries will be available and the talk will start at 9 15 am.  After the talks the meeting is thrown open for discussion, and a Question and Answer session ensues.  We aim to finish by 10/10 15 am The discussions will be chaired by Revd Mark Bratton, Moderator of Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell.

We welcome a donation to cover expenses and the surplus after deduction of costs will go to UNICEF’s appeal for vaccines in the developing world.

For more information you are welcome to contact Rev Jane Braund 01676 533737, jane.braund@methodist.org.uk or Revd Dr Mark Bratton 01676 533605 mark.bratton@warwick.ac.uk.

So why not put these dates in your diary and come along and enjoy the discussion. You will be very welcome

For information about Churches Together events please contact

Hon Sec Canon Claire Laland on clmap18@gmail.com

Saturday, 12th March – Dr Andrew Short

Title:  “Reflections on the pandemic from within and without the NHS”

Short biography 

I have lived in Warwick for 21 years after taking up a post at the University Hospital in Coventry as a consultant in the renal department. Once a kidney patient always a kidney patient, so being in renal medicine has meant I have had a long-term relationship with many of my patients. I joined the Clinical Ethics Forum more than ten years ago and if memory serves, on an occasion when I missed a meeting, was elected Chair in my absence. I trained in Manchester and then did my research in Cambridge for five years. After a brief return to Manchester, a city I particularly like and where my two children were born, I arrived in Warwickshire. While a student in Manchester I became a Christian and have attended many varied churches over the years, currently attending a Baptist church in Warwick. I preach very occasionally but am in awe of the theological pedigree of the other speakers.


The NHS has been at the centre of the pandemic, and whether you have been a patient or a member of staff, it has been very challenging. I have perceived this as both a medic and from an ethical perspective and will use a few examples to highlight some of the dilemmas encountered by the organisation and by individuals. As a Christian, I am happy to give some of my reflections on where God might be seen in such a pandemic although I am not wise enough to have any definitive answers.

Saturday, 19th March – Revd Pauline Warner 

Title: “Oh God, Not Mass!” Going into the crepuscular gloom”   

Short Biography   

Pauline Warner is a Methodist minister who has served in the Warwickshire area in various toles – chaplaincy and circuit ministry for the past 34 years.  Her current roles are as chaplain to the Methodist Home for the Aged and Coventry University.  Her particular interests are in the future of the church in a post-Christian society, contemporary spirituality ranging from goddess spirituality to the Christian charismatic movement.


These are two phrases spoken to me in the first weeks of Lockdown. Coming from different sources including working in a Nursing Home where Covid swept through the residents before we were able to obtain PPE, they inspired my reflection amid that anguish and continue to inspire my belief that the pandemic has been a key turning point in the life of the church. By which I mean not a problem to be got over but an opportunity and vocation still to be embraced.

Saturday, 26th March – Revd Canon Kathryn Fleming,

Title: “A Positive Result: Wrestling for a Blessing in the Pandemic.” 

Short biography 

Much to her surprise, Kathryn arrived at Coventry Cathedral in 2014, from parish ministry in the Diocese of Gloucester. Her initial appointment was as Canon Pastor, but more recently her role has evolved so that she is now Sub-Dean and Canon for Worship and Community. Her call to ministry began during her years singing in her Cambridge college choir. When she left, she said rather grumpily to God that since a woman couldn’t sing in a cathedral choir or lead worship there, she’d just have to be content with a job in arts administration. Fast forward 40 years and she is delighted to be singing Evensong with the Cathedral choir at least twice most weeks, in a building that has a significant presence as an Arts Centre. Mother of three adult children, and an extended family of dogs, cats and chickens, Kathryn had a varied career before ordination, as a bookseller, music-teacher, B&B proprietor and charity administrator. Words and music are her great loves. She blogs as Good in Parts, tweets as Coventry Canon, and spends far more time in online communication than she probably should.


Whether or not you’ve had to deal with a positive Covid test, you’ll probably have experienced the past 2 years as something more to be endured than enjoyed. Nonetheless, it seems to me that there are unexpected blessings to be drawn from our individual and collective experience and I’d like to explore some of these and reflect on how we might incorporate what we have learned into life going forwards. Reflecting on Jacob wrestling with the angel (and on Epstein’s sculpture, which will be part of a major Epstein exhibition in the Cathedral from 18th March to 31st May) I invite you to consider whether moments of grace and transformation might after all have been part of your experience, even if, like Jacob, society has emerged limping from the pandemic.

Saturday 2nd April – Revd Dr Mark Bratton

Title: A Plague on All Our Houses? What lessons can the Church draw from COVID and past pandemics and plagues?  

Short biography: 

Mark Bratton was born and brought up in Beirut Lebanon and educated in England. Following a short career as a barrister, which included a stint as a project research assistant at the Law Commission, Mark trained as an Anglican priest, serving in university and parish settings. He is currently Rector of St John Baptist Berkswell, near Coventry. He has represented the Diocese of Coventry on General Synod (the Church of England’s ‘parliament’) twice and led a project exploring the ethical, legal, scientific and theological dimensions of advances in human genome science (cf. God, ethics and the human genome CHP 2009). Mark has served on several ethics committees, including the Warwick University Health and Social Sciences Ethics Committee, the Warwick University Animal Welfare Board, and the Coventry Research Ethics Committee. He is currently Vice-Chair of the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Ethics Forum


The COVID 19 pandemic represents the greatest national trauma in recent times. Churches were forcibly closed for the first time since the 13th century, with congregations unable to gather to physically receive the sacraments for almost a year. Many who were in the habit of going to church have stopped doing so, and many who were not going to Church have started reconnecting. But pandemics and plagues are not new, and in the recent, and distant, past led to upheaval and social transformation, including the Church. The Black Death in the 14th century wiped out a significant percentage of the European population and the Spanish ‘flu in the early 20th, killed up to 20 million people in the space of seventeen weeks. Although times of anguish, the ravages of pandemic disease often led to great social change, including the Church. I want to consider the way the Church responded to past plagues and the lessons that we might learn from these responses in the present.


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