Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Newbiggin

Changes in churches in the Heart of Eden

10 Aug 2021, 4:15 p.m.
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1. Many of our churches are returning to normal opening patterns with easier public access – check noticeboards or enquire of churchwardens, locally.

2. Risk assessments are being updated for each church. Basic care remains unchanged in each church building – ventilation is essential, hand sanitiser available at the door, QR Code Posters in the porch or entrance (for use with Covid App on mobile phones), notices raising awareness of risks and local requests to take care, including, potentially, a request to continue to wear face masks in church buildings especially where the church is close to capacity.

3. It is vital that we take extra care of each other, especially more cautious neighbours. Show respect for differences (some remain cautious, while with double vaccinations others feel much more confident). Take time to appreciate different perspectives, and if we are in a position of responsibility in a church or other community organisation, we should consult extensively, rather than assuming everyone shares our point of view.

4. All of us need to take personal responsibility not to attend services or events in church if we have symptoms, or have been notified that we need to self-isolate.

5. The bigger the event in church, the more likely that everyone will agree that wearing masks is advisable. A smaller, socially distanced, gathering, will reduce risks, but same may still wish to wear masks. It will be quite normal for those welcoming or serving refreshments to wear face masks – respecting your health and safety.

6. In smaller events and services, social distancing is still recommended, but where more people are present then all other measures need special care and attention.

7. Weddings, some baptisms and funerals carry higher risk when attendance is known to exceed 50% of a building’s capacity, and arrangements will be discussed with key parties for each event, as guidance will vary from church to church. But we plan to make these events as significant and special as they possibly can be. We are in transition, we all hope, towards more normal patterns and practices this Autumn.

8. In any church service, you will find that congregational singing is now possible (whether with masks, or in some cases without). Music selection may need to reflect the character of the service, and it is entirely possible and enjoyable to sing more loudly outside, after a service!

9. Our practice, for the time being (for August, at least), to bring clarity for visiting clergy, will remain one of ‘bread/wafer only’ in services of Holy Communion, unless specific arrangements are requested by a particular church, to include shared wine in a risk-reduced manner – this will always be explained by clergy taking a service, respecting the needs of all present.

10. Clergy, like myself, will be taking lateral flow tests more frequently (even daily, for myself, ) during this busy season with services, weddings, baptisms, funerals and of course the Appleby Horse Fair.