Church of England Diocese of London St. Matthew, Ponders End

A third pastoral letter from Fr Stephen

7 Aug 2020, midnight

7th August: St Alphege Vicarage

My dear friends,

Just over one week to go, and our churches will be open once again!

Open, but different. And yet, simultaneously, open, but the same!

It’s the being open, and being the same, which in some ways is more important. It will be the same because the mass will be the same. It will still be making the body of our Lord truly present at the altar, just as it always has been, and always will be. And I know that many of you have waited patiently for this moment, longed for it. The moment when once again you can physically receive the body of Jesus, and the grace and strength which comes with it.

It will, indeed, be a joyous moment, and I hope as many of you as possible will be able to share in it. And for all of us who are able to be together on 16th August, we will be very aware of the sadness that comes from knowing that not everyone will be able to join in, at least not yet. We will be thinking of you, and praying for you.

So, our churches will be open, and in the most important sense open in just the same as they were before. But we all know that in many practical ways they will not be “just the same”. All the advice and instructions that I’ve explained in detail in the documents “Arrangements for re-opening St Alphege from 16th August” and “Arrangements for re-opening St Matthew from 16th August” will still be relevant, so please re-read the document for your church and ensure you’re ready and prepared.

Since those documents were written, there has been one further and important legal change. As from Saturday 8th August, the wearing of face-coverings is compulsory in places of worship, so please make sure you come with your facemask or other face covering at the ready!

The Bishop of London has made it clear that although clergy and readers will have to wear masks just like everyone else when they arrive in church, and when they interact with others, masks will not be required whilst actually saying mass, or preaching, reading or intercessing. Which is a great relief! I will, of course, be wearing a mask, and sanitising my hands, before distributing communion.

I’m very much looking forward to welcoming as many of you as possible back on Sunday 16th: 0930 at St Alphege, and 1115 at St Matthew.

Your parish priest and friend,

Fr Stephen