A statement from the Rector - 4th Sept

Dear friends,

After careful consideration, the PCC has decided that the time has come to re-open our buildings for services.  Please understand that this is just a start.  Much as we long for everything to be back to normal, that is simply not possible if we are to take each other’s safety seriously.  We recognize of course that not everyone is ready to gather in this way, so we shall continue to make our 10:30 service available via Zoom but will be broadcasting from the Good Shepherd rather than our homes.

If you would like to come to a service, please note carefully what will be required under current guidance:

  • Attendance will be by advance booking only; this is both so that we can be sure that the buildings are not overcrowded, and so that we have a record for test and trace purposes.  You can book either by My ChurchSuite, (go to My Events), via the calendar on the church website, or (if absolutely necessary) by phoning the Parish Office on 359431 (but please remember that Evelyn works from 10:00 to noon).
  • You will need to wear a face covering; let us know if you are exempt.
  • No congregational singing is allowed.
  • There will be a one-way system for entering and leaving the building.
  • You should disinfect your hands on entry (touch-free dispensers are in place at the door).
  • There will be no cash collection (including envelopes).
  • We will not be using books; instead, you will find all the words you need either projected or on a printed sheet which you must take away at the end of the service.  Bring your own bible if you would like to.
  • Sadly, there can be no refreshments; everyone has to leave the building immediately after the service without greeting others, but you can of course stay and chat outside, observing the usual distancing guidance.

We are going to start with the 9:00am service at St Thomas’s on Sunday 13 September, booking for which is open now.  Particular things to note for St Thomas’s:

  • In order to keep the 2-metre rule, we are limited to about 16 households.
  • Communion will be bread only and will have to be distributed at the chancel step as the chancel is too narrow for two-way traffic.
  • There will be no music.

The first service at the Good Shepherd will be at 10:30 on Sunday 20 September.  This is the day after the 50th anniversary of the first service in the building on 19 September 1970, so will be a double celebration.  Booking will open on 14 September.  There are a few extra things to note about meeting at the Good Shepherd:

  • We will work hard to allow as many as possible to attend; we cannot give an exact figure because it will depend on who attends (eg: a family will need more space than an individual).
  • We are not permitted to offer a crèche (Rockpools) so small children will have to remain with parents.
  • A single children’s group for those aged 5-11 will operate for the entire service; older children will also be in the auditorium with adults.
  • The service will be livestreamed as at present; this will take some work to arrange but we are determined to cater for those who are uncomfortable with physical gathering and those whom we cannot fit into the building safely.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of respecting one another’s views on gathering at the moment.  Most people, I suspect, will have mixed feelings: I think I’ve mentioned that I attended a church service on holiday and, while it was great to be with other worshippers, I somehow felt more distant from others because I couldn’t sing with them or share a conversation over coffee afterwards.  So it is up to each of us to decide what is best for our own circumstances: it would be lovely to see you face-to-face but it’s absolutely fine for you to decide that you would prefer to continue on Zoom for the time being.  Please also bear in mind that we’re all learning together how this might work, so please forgive any glitches in the processes.

If you have youngsters in your family, you will have heard from Jamie about what plans are in place for them, and I am certain that the whole church family will be surrounding our youth and children in prayer at this challenging time.  Please also pray for the whole church family as we take these next steps together.

Do get in touch if you have any pressing questions or concerns about the arrangements.  Please also remember to let us know if you would like a visit or phone call from one of the team.  Speaking of whom, Tim and Jamie join me in sending greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus

John