As you know, legal restrictions on gathering have now been lifted. At the same time, there is evidence that the pandemic is far from over: infection rates are still high (although steady in our area) but the severity of symptoms has reduced dramatically. Taken together, these factors point to a careful return to normal – gathering more freely but still doing sensible things like keeping our hands clean. So, from Sunday:
- Face coverings need not be worn. If you are more comfortable wearing one, please sit towards the back. We’ll ventilate the buildings as much as possible.
- Singing will be encouraged; again, if you are anxious about this, please sit towards the back so that people are singing away from you, not towards you.
- Social distancing is no longer required, but it seems sensible not to sit unnecessarily close to others.
- Hand sanitizer will remain at the door and it would be a kindness to others to use it as you enter.
- Greeting one another with a handshake or a hug is fine (and I am comfortable with either) but if you’re not comfortable please don’t feel pressured into it and, if you are comfortable, remember that not everyone is.
- Booking is no longer required.
- Refreshments can be served; please let me know if you are willing to serve this Sunday while we get a rota set up.
- Bibles will be available if you would like to use one, although we shall continue to print service sheets for the time being.
- Communion will continue weekly at St Thomas’s and will be reintroduced monthly at the Good Shepherd.
- Children will go out from the 10:30 service for their own activities.
- Test and trace posters will remain on display, should you wish to check in with your smartphone.
This 16-month break in our routine has changed the ways in which we serve one another. Some normal tasks (like serving coffee) stopped altogether; new tasks (like running Zoom) started from nowhere; some of us have had to learn and perform new skills on top of existing roles. As things settle down, we all have a very valuable opportunity. I encourage every one of us to ask:
Clicking the button below will take you to a list of ways in which we can be active members of the church family. Please pray through it asking God to show you how you can use your time, skills and energy for him. Please
- don’t assume jobs will be done by the people who have always done them; some have moved away, some have other calls on their time, and we’re all getting older!
- don’t just go back to what you were doing before the pandemic: now might be the time to step back from a particular role and take on something new
- do open yourself up to new possibilities
- do be as generous as you can be
- do indicate an area of interest even if you just want more information about what is involved (eg: music might mean leading the singing every week or playing the xylophone occasionally; refreshments might mean serving coffee or buying the biscuits)
- do use the ‘tell us more’ box to give or request more information
As you read through the list, you will see that there are some regular jobs (like putting chairs out) for which there will be a rota and some occasional ones (like building maintenance) for which a team leader will ask for help from time to time. And, if there’s an area of service that we haven’t thought of, please add it under ‘Other’. Please click through to the form now:
Most of us will want to gather in our buildings as soon as possible. Indeed many of us have done so already and discovered that, good as Zoom is, it is a poor substitute for the fellowship of gathering. For some, however, obstacles such as limited mobility mean that this isn’t an option. So, while our focus is generally on gathering, we shall continue to ensure that those who need to can join in via Zoom.
We shall also continue to use Zoom for other things. Our daily 8:00am service of Morning Prayer would be difficult for many if it happened in one of our buildings, but it works very well on Zoom. And Monday45, our weekly evening prayer meeting at 7:00pm, also works well on Zoom: parents can come without having to arrange childcare, there’s no travelling time so it takes less of the evening, and so on. We may even have one of our home groups online in future.
It’s great to have the Foodbank now operating out of the Good Shepherd on a Tuesday as one of the local satellites aiming to serve people in need locally and reducing the amount of travel involved. Thanks to Martin, Jeanne and Sue for being our key involvement with this project.
As usual, our services are at 9:00am (St Thomas’s) and 10:30 (Good Shepherd) but there is no need to book now. This Sunday we’ll be turning to Luke 21:1-24.
Tim (who is off on his holidays with the family tomorrow) and Jamie (who is off to camp with four of our young people) join me in sending greetings in the name of our risen and ascended saviour, Jesus Christ.
The Revd John Wigmore
Rector of Winklebury and Worting