We’re so pleased that we are going to be able to come together again to worship, albeit in a limited and unfamiliar way to begin with!
We realise that the thought of coming out to church may be daunting after so many weeks in lockdown and some of you may have concerns. If you have any questions that we have not addressed in the information here, then please do feel able to contact the office (email@example.com or 01274 400381) in the first instance and Judith will help or put you in touch with one of the staff team.
Everyone can be reassured that the PCC have passed a very stringent risk assessment which can be viewed here. The church has been well cleaned and there will be various infection prevention measures in place – which a few of you will have already seen if you have come to pray privately – including handwashing measures, and a one-way system into and out of church.
Important points for all of us:
- First and most important of all is that obviously you should not come if you have COVID-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, a fever or loss or change in your sense of taste or smell), have tested positive for COVID and are self-isolating or have been a close contact of someone who is positive and have been advised to self-isolate at home.
- Keeping your distance – at least 2 metres (that’s just over 6 feet in old money!) away from other people at all times is vitally important – please observe this, including outdoors in the car park.
- Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and carefully drying them is the best protection we have for ourselves and others currently. Using hand gel is helpful if no handwashing facilities are available to you but washing your hands with soap and water is best if you are able to do so. This includes before and after entering the church – even if you have washed your hands before leaving home.
Other things to be aware of as we return to church:
- We have to restrict numbers for the time being so that we can ensure safe distancing. We know booking to come to church feels odd and perhaps uncomfortable for many of us but it is the only way we can manage this so we would ask for your understanding and co-operation while this restriction needs to remain in place. Please contact Judith in the office by Saturday evening each week to book for any services the next Sunday.
- We will be operating a one-way system around the church. Entry will be only via the entrance at the top of the car park steps. If you have mobility issues that make this entry difficult for you, the steward on duty in the car park will be able to let you in via the side door beside the entrance to church.
- When you arrive you will be asked to give us your name and contact details. These details are to allow us to co-operate with the NHS Test and Trace service, should anyone who was in church later test positive, by giving them details of anyone else who was there. (Please note that the individual concerned would not be identified to anyone else who was present.) This personal information will be kept securely for 21 days and then destroyed.
- Please wash your hands on entry, using the facilities in the toilets in the entry corridor. As we can only have one household at a time in the toilets, this may mean a short wait but please do bear with us and wash your hands. If you are not able to access the sinks, then hand gel will be available as an alternative.
- Please follow the one way system marked out into the church. The halls, the kitchen and the toilets in the Lounge are not in use currently.
- There will be stewards around church, as well as the staff team, who can help you if needed – they will be wearing high-viz jackets and name badges, so you know who is on duty!
- At the end of the service, please wash your hands using the sink facility in the storage room and then leave church through the side door beside the Hope Chapel. Again, it may be necessary to wait a short time before doing this. The main entrance door is not in use at the moment to help ensure the one way system.
- There will be no collection plate passed round in services for the time being. If you would like to give a financial gift, we would encourage you to do this by debit or credit card and not cash if at all possible – we have a card machine now to enable taking contactless payments, which will be available near the exit. A collection plate will be available for cash as well and any cash gifts will be dealt with in line with the restrictions.
- In line with the latest guidance from the Church of England, anyone attending a place of worship is now strongly advised to wear a face covering in order to protect others. This is not mandatory under government guidance and anyone covered by one of the exemptions from face coverings is, of course, welcome to attend church. You can find out more about the Church of England’s guidance on face coverings here.
- Holy Communion will be bread only and will be received from a temporary table at the front of the nave. Bread will be individually portioned in paper holders in advance by a Sacristan wearing PPE and John will bless it as part of the Thanksgiving Prayer and will also be wearing appropriate PPE for this part of the service. Stewards will then usher people up in a one-way system to take some bread from the table.
- We are not able to join in singing together for the time being while more research is done into how much singing increases the transmission risk for COVID. Talk to Viv if you want to know more about this. We will use recorded music or solo music from a cantor from time to time in services for reflection but music will be kept to a minimum for the time being.
All of these restrictions will mean that our worship will look rather different for some time to come. Over the summer weeks from July 26th, the PCC have approved gradually introducing an experimental pattern as a way forward which will allow us to offer more worship opportunities, both in church and online. For all of these services booking arrangements will apply as above. Please click here to find out more about what is planned.
We will be studying the early chapters of Acts over the summer weeks – a biblical example of God guiding His people out of a kind of lockdown into an exciting new phase accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s be praying that these familiar stories will speak to us powerfully in the weeks ahead.