Now that regulations on Covid precautions have changed, much advice has been issued by the government, national church and local health authorities, with each Vicar being responsible for plans and arrangements in each church building.
As a church community, we are called to act for the benefit of all, and especially the most vulnerable. We wish our church community to be safe, accepting and welcoming for all, regardless of health, or vaccine-status. Although regulations have lifted in time for our celebration of the Feast of St James this Sunday, I strongly encourage everyone to continue to take precautions and continue the good habits we have got into in recent months.
After discussion at PCC on Wednesday, Christ Church ask that everyone continues to:
- Wear a face covering within the building, unless medically exempt
- Keep a safe distance - some pews will remain closed to help this. Wherever possible, please avoid sitting directly behind someone.
- Use the track and trace QR code or paper sign-in sheet for each service
- Use hand gel on arriving in the building, and before receiving communion
- At the 1030 service, communion will now be received from the rail; please kneel or stand to receive. Afterwards, please return to your seat via the Lady Chapel
- The common cup (chalice) may be shared *if desired*. If you wish to receive, please remain at the rail after receiving the bread. The person administering will wear a face covering, and please *do not* touch the chalice with your hands, and *do not* intinct your wafer (dip it into the wine). The chalice will be wiped with an alcohol sanitiser between use.
- Congregational singing will restart at the Sunday 1030 Eucharist, with other services remaining said.
- The 1030 service will continue to be recorded for those who wish to watch and worship at home.
- Face-to-face gatherings, eg meetings and study groups, can resume without a limit on numbers, preferably outdoors, or with extra ventilation and face coverings indoors - and we’ll encourage the maintenance of some distancing.
Lockdown reiterated the ancient Christian understanding that simply being prayerfully present at a Eucharist (whether virtually or in person) enables us to be in communion with Christ and one another in a spiritual way. When a priest takes the bread and drinks the cup, they do this on behalf of the whole parish, ourselves included, in remembrance of Christ who died on behalf of all humanity. Receiving communion in one kind (i.e. bread or wine) means that all of Christ is present with us - we hold all of Christ in our hands, and share fully in His risen life lived through the church.
Therefore there is no spiritual imperative to returning to receiving both bread and wine at communion. Some will wish to return to receiving both, others will prefer to receiving in one kind only for the foreseeable future. That is a matter for each individual, and what feels right for your own ability to feel safe whilst worshipping in church. This is what is right for you - and there is no judgement or spiritual detriment in leaving the rail before receiving the chalice.
All of us will feel differently about the lifting of regulations - some ecstatic, some anxious. I’m more than happy to hear your own views on this, and talk through what will help you feel safe and return to be part of Christ Church in coming weeks.
There are a range of quieter and busier services at Christ Church on Sundays and mid-week, so you may also wish to consider something different to your usual pattern. Please be mindful that some may not be as ready to be as close-up as others, and that is absolutely fine, so please don’t be afraid to say ‘Please may I have space?’ if you need it, knowing that no questions will be asked.
May I take the opportunity to thank you all for your prayers, patience and support through recent months. I hope and pray that this period of unlocking can help us safely rebuild as a church family, and begin to grow again as the vibrant, inclusive and worshipping community which Christ Church is known to be.
This Sunday, we remember James, a fisherman and one of the twelve apostles who served Christ all across Europe. The 1030 service will be a Sung Eucharist, with a new mass setting by Peter Nardone led by the choir. All are welcome - and I look forward to seeing you when you feel able to return (or to meeting up with you if you’re not yet able to come into church, for whatever reason - just get in touch).
Rev’d Carol Backhouse