(please read carefully. Lots of important info here)
Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey this week about opening up St Andrew’s for services. The feedback was very helpful in prayerfully discerning the way forward. The staff team, wardens and PCC representatives have met this week to discuss what we do in the coming few weeks and we have made some decisions, which I’ll outline here.
Before I do that, I think it is really important to appreciate that there is a wide variety of feelings amongst our congregation members (only 31% indicated they are keen to return now; 31% they would wait until congregational singing was allowed, 30% wait until social distancing was removed and 8% wait until there was a reliable vaccine). These figures reflect both people’s different levels of concern about COVID and also highlight the different levels of introversion/extroversion and those who are especially feeling they desperately need to connect up with others! The feedback from the online services was overwhelmingly positive and we are delighted that people are finding this so helpful at this time, despite it not being what we’d all choose. We have taken on board the helpful suggestions for how to improve further and will continue to learn and adapt in the coming weeks. We have also been encouraged to see new people connecting with us online (and some in person) due to our online presence of the last few weeks.
As I, and others, have prayed over recent weeks too, we also have sensed God calling us not to simply rush back to ‘the old normal’ but to stay in this place of transition and allow God to continue to shape us in this time, and potentially lead us into new ways and patterns of worship. We also want to, as far as we can, ‘move forward together’ and not create a two-tier system of those who can and those who can’t worship in person yet. Therefore, in the light of all the above, we have decided that the pre-recorded online service should remain the ‘main’ service for the moment (at least until communal singing is possible again), and we commit to doing this as well as we can, especially as it is currently our ‘shop window’ for our community and beyond. In addition, we are going to facilitate some different ways of meeting up in person, for both adults and children/young people, which we hope be a blessing to those who are ready for that.
Trial Service Pattern for September
10am In-person Service at All Saints (as currently) with liturgy, Holy Communion and some reflective music. Open to anyone at either church looking for an in-person ‘live’ service.10:30am Interactive in-person showing of the pre-recorded service at St Andrew’s with children’s work (5-10’s) available and younger youth work (Helen & Eddy to send out more details). This is an opportunity to gather corporately to watch/participate in the pre-recorded service together, and we will experiment with the service host or others leading some components in person (e.g. response/prayer ministry; prayers, extra reflections, doing the sermon live on occasions, Holy Communion in person etc.). It might seem strange initially, but we will experiment and see how it best works and this means whether watching in church or at home, we will all be experiencing largely the same worship.Sunday evenings (time to be decided) Older Youth Work session at St Andrew’s
The young families’ video and children’s resources will also still be being produced and on the website each week.
Thursdays at 12noon at St Andrew’s – A short traditional (mainly Holy Communion) midweek service with liturgy, a short sermon (with the same theme as the Sunday service), prayers and normally some reflective music. This will be videoed and broadcast as our traditional online service on the following Sunday morning (instead of the current videoing of the All Saints Service, which is not available currently until early evening on the Sunday).From a date to be decided (Helen and her team to work out the details)
9am ‘Early Bird Church’ – in the St Andrew’s church hall. A special 30-40 minute service aimed at children under 8 and their families. This would consist of a story, a craft, some singing (if allowed) or actions and prayers in socially distanced family groups. This would also be something that was potentially missional that we could invite messy church/toddler families to.Other youth provision (e.g. mentoring sessions) will continue in addition to this and Eddy will notify youth and parents.