Virtual Eucharist in Genoa


A chaplaincy in the Diocese in Europe has taken a pioneering lead in responding to the current Coronavirus outbreak, making an online recording of a Sunday Eucharist service.

Following the Corona Virus outbreak in Northern Italy, the regional authorities decided to lock down the Liguria, Lombardy and Veneto regions for a full week.  This resulted in restrictions to people’s everyday movements, and a ban on public gatherings, including Church services.

Canon Tony Dickinson, Chaplain at the Anglican Church of the Holy Ghost, Genoa (the chief city of Liguria) decided this was not going to stand in the way of celebrating Holy Communion as usual on a Sunday, and that this situation required a different approach to connect with the people of his chaplaincy, where Sunday service attendance currently averages 35.

He organized a video recording of the full service (Lent 1), with liturgy and the breaking of bread and wine.  Segments of the recording were then posted on the Church Facebook page.  Here is Tony delivering the service:

In his sermon, reflecting on Matt. 4, 1-11 on the testing of Jesus in the wilderness, Canon Tony said:

‘For all of us, for the rest of the people of Genova, for most of Italy, especially Lombardy and Veneto, the corona-virus outbreak has led us into a kind of wilderness. The fact that I’m having to say these things on social media rather than face-to-face in church is just one aspect of that. All of us are waiting to discover what will happen next.

All of us are experiencing something of that testing which Jesus underwent, struggling as disturbing thoughts arise in our hearts: “How am I going to survive this?” (the bread question); “Why should I change how I do things? God will stop me from becoming infected.” (the “throw-yourself-down” question); and “How can I turn this situation in some way to my advantage?” (the power question).

But when we find ourselves in the place of testing, the place of waiting, this “liminal space” the thing to do is to follow the example of Jesus. In reply to each of those questions from the tester he reaffirmed his trust in God.”

On the experience of preparing and running an e-Eucharist, Canon Tony said:

“It has been an interesting experience, and one which has shown what can be done even with quite limited equipment. It has also revealed my near total inadequacy as a techie. Constructing the liturgy and videoing it on a smartphone took about twice as long as the service would have. Up-loading the video clips to our Facebook page took for ever!”

DIY “ashes to go”

‘e-Eucharist” last Sunday followed the provision of DIY “ashes to go” in place of the Eucharist on Ash Wednesday.  This was possible because the ban on public gatherings for worship did not prevent churches from keeping their buildings open for private prayer.

The Church of the Holy Ghost therefore prepared a small container of ashes and a dozen leaflets which contained the readings and prayers for the day, the words to be said at the ashing, and some material for reflection, and then left the church open at the usual hour for the midweek Eucharist.  This permission to keep the building open for private prayer also enabled the church to run its planned drop-in quiet day from 9. 30 a.m. the next morning.

You can find links to a full set of clips from the Genoa e-Eucharist service last Sunday via the Church Facebook page (look under videos), the order of service and more information about this diverse and vibrant Church community on their website:

Photos are reproduced with grateful thanks to Canon Tony and friends at the Church of the Holy Ghost, Genoa.