This Sunday we will be gathering in person to worship and glorify God for the first time in months. PRAISE GOD! We will host a short service at 10am for anyone who wishes to attend and will continue to do this through the summer. The service will be a fairly liturgical ‘said’ service with communion and some music to listen to. If you haven’t watched Dave’s short video about what it will be like to enter the church again please watch it here. We’ve decided not to use a booking system initially but if too many people start attending in the coming weeks we will have to rethink. We are hoping to video the service and will make that available online from as early as we can on the Sunday afternoon so that those who can’t attend can watch anyway. We will not be having services at St Andrew’s until September, but will be continuing with a pre-recorded online service throughout the summer for us to continue to gather remotely to worship together.
Update on Face Coverings: From August 8th, face coverings will become mandatory for everyone attending worship services inside (except children under 11 and those exempt), in order to protect others and that ‘face coverings should only be removed to take Holy Communion.’
Some guidelines and instructions to follow to ensure a safe environment at the All Saints’ Service:
- You will need to be prepared to form a socially distanced queue on arrival if needed.
- We ask you not to bring your cars up to the car park unless you are dropping someone off who is not able to walk up the drive.
- You will need to sanitise your hands on the way in and way out.
- Face coverings – see above guidelines.
- A welcomer will be there to welcome you and take down your name (and a telephone number if we don’t have that already in the church directory) for track and trace purposes in case someone subsequently is found to have COVID-19.
- There should be no hand shaking or hugging and people will need to remain 2m apart as far as possible at all times. Please avoid touching door handles and other surfaces as much as possible.
- You will only be able to sit next to people you live with. Some chairs will be grouped in twos (and more if necessary) and you may be directed where to sit.. All other chairs will be 2 meters apart.
- Unfortunately, we are not able to put on any children’s work at this time, or put any children’s activities or toys out, but children are welcome to attend if they remain with their parents.
- The words for the service will be projected on the screen.
- There will be no singing (but we will play reflective music) and you will be asked to say responses quietly with no shouting!
- The peace will be done by sign language only and there will be no moving around to greet everyone.
- Communion will be ‘in one kind’ only. In other words, you will only receive bread (a wafer). The clergy will sanitise their hands during the communion prayers. The clergy will bring communion to you in your seat to reduce the amount of movement and you will be asked to extend your arms out as much as you can to receive it and the wafer will be dropped into your hands to minimise contact. The clergy may be wearing visors during this part of the distribution.
- After the service there will be no refreshments and you will be encouraged not to remain in the building too long after the service finishes.
- If you, or any of your household, have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), you must not attend worship services.
- Guidelines from the Church of England advise that over 70s and the vulnerable should remain at home ‘as much as possible’ and not join larger indoor gatherings, but the decision is left to the individual. We really want people to consider very carefully if it is right to attend services or wait a little longer, and above all else to consider your own safety.
We’ll not get this right first time, and will continue to learn from feedback, so we appreciate everyone’s patience as we venture into new territory (again!). If you have any questions then please do get in touch with the clergy or the church office.
Update 10th July
Thank you to everyone who took part in our online survey last week. The results were very useful for discerning how people were feeling and working out a way forward for the next few weeks. Around 35% of those who responded said that they would feel comfortable returning now to in church worship, however there was a marked difference between our churches. 2/3rd of All Saints who responded said they were keen to return now, whilst only around 25% of St Andrew’s responses said the same, with many indicating that they would prefer to wait until we can come back in more ‘normal’ circumstances (less social distancing and including singing) and that they would find it difficult if some came back and others were not able to. What was very clear was the request to continue with online worship for a considerable amount of time, and people’s overwhelming feedback on how much this had been appreciated.
Last Sunday the PCCs met to discuss the way forward for the Summer, reflecting on the feedback we have received and also the fact that All Saints is both a larger building with 2 doors for access which makes it easier to ventilate and keep social distancing.
In the light of all of this, the PCCs made the following decision:
- To have a single ‘joint’ weekly service up at All Saints beginning on Sunday 26th July at 10am for July and August. This will be open to anyone from both churches and be a shorter service, with liturgy, communion and some music to reflect to. We will try this without a booking system initially (we have worked out we can accommodate a congregation of about 35), but if larger numbers try to attend, we will have to rethink.
- To wait until September before having any services at St Andrew’s (unless things change significantly) which allows us time to try and discern the best way to make worship as accessible to as many as possible, and especially children. It is likely that we might use September to continue to consult and plan and in reality be looking more to October before we have a full plan in place (depending on how guidelines change).
- That we would continue offering one online pre-recorded service over the summer (and beyond) and would try to record the All Saints service and put it up on the website by the Sunday afternoon so that those who cannot come in person can still have access to that.
As you can imagine, this has not been an easy decision, and the situation is continually evolving. We hope that you will understand the reasons for the decisions PCC have made, and be patient with us in the meantime and pray for wisdom for moving forward in the coming weeks. The added challenge is that as we are moving into Summer, the Rector and Curate are both away at different times, for their summer holidays over the next few weeks which also makes planning and consultation a little harder, with the rapidly changing guidelines.
We will continue to keep you as updated as we can in the coming weeks of any changes to the above. If you have any further questions, then do get in touch with any of the clergy or wardens.
And let us pray that whether we worship in the church buildings or at home over the coming weeks, that we will meet with God and will continue to be united together as one church at this time.
Sent with much love and our prayers
What to expect when you return to church…
When we do return, church is going to be a little different to normal. We’ll not bombard you with full details this week (we’ll leave that to next week!), but here is a short video from Dave as to what you can expect when you come back to All Saints for an in person service.
St Andrew’s & All Saints are both open for private prayer at the following times:
Monday 4:30-6pm All Saints
Tuesday 4:30-6pm St Andrew’s (the only time at St Andrew’s this week)
Thursday 12-2pm All Saints
You are most welcome to come in alone or with others in your household for individual private prayer (not prayer groups unfortunately yet). We have set up the church to be as welcoming as we can within the new socially distancing guidelines and there are instructions for you to follow when you arrive. Please bring your own Bibles as you will not be able to use any church Bibles or other booklets. There will also be the opportunity to light a candle to remember people or use to pray for people. The sessions will normally be hosted by one of the clergy and normally another host too. We do hope that this will be a meaningful space for those who would appreciate it.
We continue to offer our Sunday service online. We are streaming two recorded services each Sunday from our homes now: a traditional service and a contemporary service. The contemporary service package will also contain resources for children and youth provision. Both these services will be available here on a Sunday morning from 8:30am to view from the comfort of your home or wherever you are.
Before all else, at this time, we are called to pray for our community, our nation and world and encourage one another in our confidence in the Lord. Ideas of what to pray for can be downloaded here How should we pray. 24/7 have produced some excellent resources too – click here.
- We’ve also got some other daily prayer resources here
- We’ve also have a booklet of daily prayers, lectionary readings and special prayers for this time which we’ve adapted from another church. You can download it here: coronavirus prayers and daily prayer
- We are encouraging church members to keep using the prayer chain as normal (email@example.com)
SURVIVE AND THRIVE:
Peter (our curate) is producing a series on how you can ‘survive and thrive’ during this time of lockdown. His first three appear below – just click on each image to watch the corresponding video.
SHARING the hope and love of God
At this time of crisis, we have a real opportunity not just to demonstrate God’s love but to share the love and hope of God with others. The Chinese Christians in Wuhan have found they have had ‘unprecedented opportunities to spread the Gospel of Jesus to those around them with many becoming Christians since the outbreak of this virus.’ So let’s prepared to share the reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15).
- Offer to pray – for anyone you come into contact with who might appreciate it. At this time, we will almost certainly find people more open to prayer than normal.
- Offer the hope and love of Jesus
- Pray for opportunities to share the hope we have.
- Be prepared to share something of your story
- You might like to point people to the TRY PRAYING APP which they can download for free and try out.
Thank you for all you are doing the ‘be the church’ at this time. I am so grateful for the amazing team we have here and each of us has a part to play at this time – and most important of all, which everyone can do, is to pray.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
May we live and share peace well even in these difficult times.
Dave and the Leadership teams.