(For a printable timetable of all our services during July, go to the 'News and notices' page)
All Sunday Eucharists will be said. Following the latest guidelines on personal protection against Covid-19 infection (coronavirus), there will be no singing (organ music will resume at a later date). See below for details of how the Eucharists will be celebrated with the safety measures in place.
Sunday 5th: St George, Tombland at 11am
Sunday 12th: St George, Colegate at 9.30am
Sunday 19th: St George, Tombland at 11am
Sunday 26th: St George, Colegate, 9.30am
SAFETY DETAILS from the RECTOR'S MESSAGE:
Social distancing and hand hygeine: The usual precautions will be in place at both churches: open doors so no one will need to touch handles, hand sanitiser at the entrances, limited seating bearing in mind social distancing guidelines. There will either be one-use pew sheets or orders of service which will be "quarantined" for a week before they are touched again. The collection plate will not be passed, and people are invited (pleaded - begged with a fiery intensity, really) to leave their offerings in the basket which will then be placed in a plastic bag and not touched for 72 hours.
All services are benefice services: During these past months every service has been a benefice service, and that concept will continue in this liminal period. Although St George Tombland will host this Sunday's Eucharist, it will not be only for people who habitually worship at St George Tombland; it is for everyone. The attendance limit there is 30 people, so the first 30 to show up will have a place. If anyone comes after that the churchwardens will have to politely turn them away. Please be understanding if this happens. As this is a new way of worshiping, we are learning. If it looks like there will be consistently more people than we can handle (the number is 35 at St George Colegate) then we will reassess the schedule and try to find a solution that will accommodate more people. The places where people will sit will be marked, but the churchwardens in both churches will be on hand to make sure people know where to go
Singing and Organ Music: There will be no singing (not even for me, which might make some cheer!) and - at least for the first couple of services at each church - no organ. Even if hymn singing does not return after July, organ music most definitely will return in both of our churches. Due to the constraints of social distancing, there will be no servers, sacristans, or thurifers - the presider will set up and clean up so that he or she will be the only one touching the instruments of the altar.
The communion rail will not be used. The patterns of receiving communion will be slightly different in the two churches (and will be explained at the beginning of each service) but communion will be offered under the form of bread only, received in the hand after forming a queue with at least two metres (that's just over two yards for those of us who still think in those terms), and extending the hand at arm's length to the presider, who him/herself will have his/her arm extended as well. There will be no exchanging of the sign of peace.
The wearing of masks is encouraged but not mandatory. I would like to encourage people to consider doing so, if for nothing else than it will help those who suffer anxiety to feel a little safer. I will be wearing a mask. (Only time will tell if its presence will cut down the length of the sermon; my bet is probably not.)
Reading the Scriptures: Many places are not having readers in this period, but I, personally, want to have people proclaiming the Scriptures right away. Readers will be sent the readings ahead of time which they will print out at home and bring with them so as not to have people touching a common book. We will eventually also resume people preparing and praying the intercessions, but for the first few services the priest or assisting minister (if there is one) will fulfil this ministry.
Toilet facilities will be open, but, as they will need to be cleaned after each individual use, if one can refrain from using them, that would obviously be preferable.
Personal circumstances and decisions: Obviously, if you don't feel safe coming to church, or if you feel at all unwell, please do not come. We are aware that many will not be able to come and are feverishly working to utilise our technology so that we can offer more things online. Please be patient. In the meantime, we will continue to send out three reflections by the ministry team each week, as well as the Sunday sermon, so that people who can't make it to church have some spiritual sustenance until we get our online offerings up and running.
I am aware that all of this may well sound overwhelming or foreboding - a list of don'ts that seems the polar opposite of who we are as a welcoming, inclusive community. But I think to be truly welcoming in this period is to be safe, so I hope we can bear that in mind. If we find ourselves thinking things aren't how we would like them to be, I would ask you to reflect on the thrilling feeling with which I began: we are once again going to be able to bring our stories to these sacred temples, to listen to the words of Scripture, to praise God, and do in memory of Jesus Christ what he commanded us to do. This is our mission. And we move forward into it. Together.
With every blessing,
Rev'd Alaric Lewis, Rector
St George Colegate and St George Tombland
01603 663 757