In the short time since my arrival, the government and the Church of England have released guidance about re-opening church buildings – for private prayer and funerals and from the 4th July for public worship. In order for any of this to happen, risk assessments must be completed, in line with the government and Church of England guidance, in order to assess how churches may open to keep all people safe.
We have begun our journey and our Church Councils, Churchwardens and the Vicar are very busy with all the things we need to do in order to prepare well to open up here in our Benefice.
As I speak with people, I am hearing different responses about how people feel about the church buildings opening, some can’t wait and others are very nervous and anxious – we are all different so quite a broad range of feelings. Our hope is to take as many people with us on the journey as is possible in these early days – this will mean some people will have to be very patient and others will need time to catch up – we will need to bear with one another in love and keep mindful of others.
In our Benefice we will be taking a step at a time – when the time is right we will open for quiet reflection and prayer and work towards opening up for church services on Sundays. It is important to say and perhaps hard to take in, that what this will look like will be different to what you had before this pandemic and for a long time it will look and feel different – for instance, the guidance does not allow singing at this stage of the journey, we will have to adhere to physical distancing within the buildings and thus number of people possible in the building at any one time will be limited and there will be a flow system that we will need to follow in church when entering and leaving the church. These are some of the changes. Once we are ready and as guidance changes, you will be fully informed of all the necessary things we will need to do in order to keep everyone safe.
Over the last few months, whilst at home, we begun online services which have been enjoyed by those who have the technology and going forward, some form of online services will continue to enable us to continue to serve those in their homes and reach as many people in our communities who for various reasons will find themselves unable to come into our buildings. Online and physical gatherings will be here to stay.
I want to thank you for your patience and graciousness so far
Go well and keep safe and healthy