Church of England Diocese of Canterbury Hawkinge, St. Luke

Time Line for returning to the church

14 Mar 2021, midnight
Church_news From_the_Vicar Easter Notices

Dear church family,

the PCC have met and agreed the church should reopen on Sunday March 21st. As I have mentioned before, there is no obligation on your part to return to the church and you must do so only when you feel ready to and are confident it suits your health circumstances. On-line services will continue to run alongside the reopening to enable everyone to continue to receive church services at home if they wish to.

It is very important that those of you for whom it is not the right time to return to church, do not feel left behind when the church reopens. Our on-line services and Thursday evening ‘Facebook live’ sessions will continue to offer teaching and ministry. We encourage people if they are able, to continue to meet in gardens and walk with each other to have fellowship in accordance with government guidelines. We will continue with our zoom prayer meetings on Wednesday evening with updates and prayer points so everyone can feel they can participate in the ministry of the church.

In addition to this, we are still carrying forward the vision of small group ministry proposed at the vision day in February last year. In more normal times, we are looking to develop a small group programme where people can be affirmed and encouraged as well as explore and develop their own God-given gifts and abilities. (More information on this will follow).

Church reopening.

When the church opens on March 21st we will be offering a combined service over the Easter period. The service will begin at 11.am, it will be a family service which will conclude with a traditional communion. Palm Sunday, (March 28th) will be a family service and Easter Sunday (April 4th) will also be a single service at 11.am and conclude with a traditional communion. It will not be possible to have the existing two services on a Sunday morning and have the church ready and clean for the second service.

Firstly, please be aware that when we return to church we will have to follow the latest guidelines. We are essentially picking up where we left off. So currently, the key restrictions which affect places of worship are:

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* Risk assessment - this is an ongoing process as regulations change

* Social distancing - maintaining 2m where possible (between households) with signage to encourage this practice

* Face coverings (unless in one of the exempt groups)

* Cleaning - in between services and of toilets after usage

* Contact tracing - recording who has attended and keeping this data for 21 days

* Hand sanitiser available and usage encouraged

* Limited numbers with possible booking in advance

* Singing is not allowed

* The use of recorded music is encouraged rather than live music

We will keep to the strict procedures both from the government and the Church of England toensure the church is as safe as possible. However, we cannot guarantee people’s safety.People must understand that they come to the church at their own risk.

What will it look like for us?

You will need to book a seat. However, to ensure that the church community grows we may ask if committed members would be prepared to give up their seat for any visitors who may come without booking. (This is especially important on Easter Sunday). Please simply bookyour place by emailing me directly on [email protected]

The chairs have been laid out in rows and available seats will be designated. These will generally be alternate rows and alternate seats but households can sit together. We estimate that we can accommodate around 30 individuals (if by themselves) but the number is variable depending on households (couples, families, etc).

Your contact details will be taken when you enter the building and you will be shown where to sit.

The time-line

Sunday 21st March: Church reopens for a combined service at 11am

Sunday 28th March: Church remains open for a family service at - 11am

Sunday 4th April: Church remains open for a combined service at - 11am


We then propose to move to a regular pattern with alternated services.

Sunday 11th April: Traditional communion – 11am

Sunday 18th April: Family service – 11am

etc.

All services will be at the time of 11am.

What will the services be like?

One of the challenges of coming back to church with the current restrictions, is how to prevent the experience from being negative. In both our services we will be looking to encounter the Holy Spirit. Although we cannot sing, we will seek to creatively deepen our experience of the Lord, to know the touch of God and hear His voice during these times together.

Traditional Communion service - the format will be very similar with recorded hymns as before (but no singing unfortunately), the communion service (without books and we will work out how best to provide responses) and an altered communion in line with the current Church of England guidelines. At present this only involves the offering of the bread to participants and cannot include the Peace. There will of course be led-prayers and the sermon as before.

Family service - the service will be an hour (at least to start with) and will include the usual mix of songs as individual songs or sets but these will all be YouTube versions. Although singing is not currently allowed, there is no reason why worship cannot include standing and raising of arms but no moving around. There will be a sermon. Different people can participate but will have to follow the protocols for leading.

Children & youth - there will be a 'table-top' activity available for children at the family service (but remember alternate weeks). These will be done at their seats. We will also look to make more of the service an all-age service. There will be no separate Lighthouse Kids at the church but this will continue weekly via zoom for the time being.

Tea & Coffee - unfortunately this cannot be accommodated within the current guidelines and any socialising before or afterwards should follow social distancing guidelines.

Hopefully, as restrictions ease over the summer we shall begin to return to a more normal experience of church and I shall inform you of those stages.

Thank you so much for kind support. We pray this is the permanent reopening of the church and we go forward trusting in Him and knowing that He goes ahead of us and leads us on.(Jn. 10.1-4).

Every blessing in Jesus

Rob (Rob Grinsell - Vicar)

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