To borrow a greeting from St. Paul : to the members of St. Paul's Church in Astley Bridge : Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The special festival seasons of Easter, The Ascension and Pentecost are now behind us and we're now in what the church calendar calls "Ordinary Time". If only it were so in every aspect of life right now! We still aren't living in ordinary times. We're still in a pandemic time. However, in our country we have at last reached the stage when we are allowed to reopen St. Paul's Church building for public worship. So, at last, we can begin to meet together in church for Sunday services.
There are still, though, restrictions in place on what we can do and on how we have to do things. With them in mind, I'm grateful to the members of our PCC who have met several times in the last month to work through the rules and guidelines that we've got to follow. I'm also grateful to the band of volunteers who helped me do the necessary work in church to get it ready for reopening. The aim has been to return to worshipping together whilst taking proper care to ensure everyone's wellbeing.
Our first Sunday service in church for four months will be at 10am on 19th July. The service will be Morning Prayer. It'll be a said service since we're not yet allowed to do any singing. We're also not allowed to mingle for a chat after the service. But at least we can make a start on gathering together for worship and prayer once again. Hopefull the situation will improve and we'll be able to do more of the things that we enjoy and value at St. Paul's later on.
As far as Holy Communion services are concerned, the plan is to wait for a few weeks until we've got used to being back in church and have a feel for how things are working out. That'll help us to see how we can comply with the additional instructions that apply to Communion services so that we keep everyone safe and well.
To help look after everyone's wellbeing, wearing face coverings for services in our church will be required, at least for the time being. There is a supply in church for people who come but don't have their own to bring with them. The number of people we can have in church will be limited, but, for now, we think we can manage without having to set up a booking system. So you don't need to 'phone or use the internet to reserve a pew. You're invited and welcome to simply come to the church if you are able and wish to do so.
Getting back to attending services in the church building won't suit everyone. So I am intending to keep our online services going in one way or another. Whether we worship in the building or the internet, we remain together St. Paul's Church, Astley Bridge.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, <span style="font-size: 1rem;">and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.</span>
Rev. Julian Hartley - <span style="font-size: 1rem;">Vicar of St. Paul's Church, Astley Bridge</span>