Covid – 19 Opening Churches
Opening our churches: St Helen’s and St Mary’s
The following is a slightly amended extract from a report from a recent Standing Committee meeting and initially sent to PCC members, explaining our current thinking and plans.
The following plans will be carried out in accordance with all Government guidelines and recent news seems to suggest that numbers allowed to attend will be limited. This means that we will have to devise a strategy for St Helen’s. We do not want to be in the position of having to turn people away on a first-come-first-served basis. We will update and inform you of how we propose to deal with this well before the first service date, by letter, email, Newsletter and advertising.
Please do let us know of anyone who is not on the Electoral Roll but attends one of our churches and encourage them to contact us so they will be sent any information too.
- Private Prayer
It is intended that both churches will be opened for private prayer each Thursday morning between 10 a.m. and 12 noon starting at St. Helen’s on 17th September. Two stewards will need to be on duty. Only 4 or 5 people will be allowed in at any time. Only the back pews will be used, marked out to ensure social distancing, and will be wiped down with antiviral spray after each person leaves. Kneelers and runners on pews will be removed to allow for this. Contact details will need to be given for Track and Trace purposes. Face coverings must be worn by law.
At St. Helen’s entry will be through the main door and exit through the hall door. There will be hand sanitizer at each.
N.B. TOILETS WILL BE CLOSED
2. Services in Church
It is intended that the first service at Mary’s will be on Sunday 18th October and at St. Helen’s on Sunday 25th October. This first service at both churches will be a Thanksgiving / Harvest service (simplified and will not involve the usual decoration of the church and bringing of harvest gifts).
The rules we have been given state that clergy can only take one service in the benefice each Sunday because of the risk of cross contamination. Thought is being given to how a pattern of services can be drawn up using the clergy and lay people we have available. There will be no service of Holy Communion at present as it would be very difficult to ensure the safety of those taking part and we are not allowed to bring our own drink / bread as those of you who have watched services on the internet will have seen. Alternate pews will be taped off and direction given as to where people can sit to ensure social distancing. It may be that people will have to be escorted to pews, certainly at first. At St. Helen’s the screen will be used for the service. At St. Mary’s paper copies will have to be produced and taken away by everyone who attends.
Masks will have to be worn and although there may be music played, there will not be any singing of hymns.
Details will be taken of all attending church – name and telephone number – as required for possible track and trace activity, hopefully never needed.
This is a very different way of being church together and we ask for your continued prayer, support and graciousness in all that has to be done.