In line with Government advice and Church of England guidance, St Mary’s is open for public worship 10 – 11am on Sundays and 9.30am – 10am on Thursdays. Weddings and funerals can also take place in church, but within very carefully laid out guidelines and with a minimum of people present.
This careful, controlled return to church buildings is good news. There has been a rise in the number of people praying and turning to religion during the pandemic, and it is hoped that opening church buildings for worship will provide places of sanctuary and inspiration for people at this extraordinary time.
Following Government advice and Church of England guidelines, Fr Andrew and the Churchwardens have completed a risk assessment for re-opening the church building for public worship. For everyone’s safety and peace of mind, please take note of the following:
• Entry and exit is by the South Porch only.
• Do not enter the building if you are displaying any of the symptoms of coronavirus.
. Unless folk have an underlying condition, face coverings must be worn by all those attending St Mary’s Church (except by those leading services or parts of the services); remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
• Use the hand sanitiser provided on entry and exit to the church building, if you visit the toilet whilst in church, and before you receive Communion.
• Please sign in when coming to church, using your own pen, to help the NHS Test & Trace.
• Always maintain social distancing.
• The kitchen area is closed to reduce the church building’s cleaning regime. For the same reason, the Children’s Corner is also closed. Families are encouraged to bring suitable books/toys etc for their children and have them with them on their pew. Whiz Kidz leaders are providing an activity pack each week for children to take away with them.
• You are welcome to light candles as an aid to prayer, but please use your own lighter/matches.
• Please bring your own Bibles to use. Orders of Service will be provided for you to use, take home, and bring back to use again the following week.
• There will be no physical sharing of the Peace.
• The priest (and anyone who helps prepares the elements) will sanitise their hands before touching the elements, and again after the priest has administered them to himself and before offering the bread to communicants. If others assist in preparing the elements, then hand hygiene and physical distancing precautions will apply.
• Communion will be administered in one kind only with no sharing of the common cup. The celebrant alone will take the wine, consuming all that has been consecrated; other communicants will receive the bread only, in the hand. As the Church of England Liturgical and Faith and Order Commission has made clear, this is still ‘complete communion’.
• In order to avoid touching the altar rail and to maintain physical distancing communicants should not come to kneel at the altar rail, but instead they should form a line maintaining two metres distance to receive the bread from the priest.
• The Church of England recognises that it will not be possible to maintain the normal social distancing for the brief time that the priest administers the sacrament. However, the risk associated with this is relatively low, especially when wearing face coverings.
. There will be a retiring collection.
As ever, there is no pressure on parishioners to receive Communion if they feel unsure. Some may prefer not to receive Communion physically but to receive a blessing from the priest or receive ‘Spiritual Communion’ instead. In the case of the latter, the following prayer can be said by the individual whilst remaining in their pew during the Distribution:
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
(Prayer of St Richard of Chichester)
The services in church each Sunday will be recorded and uploaded onto our church website (bulwellchurch.org.uk) and Facebook page media. Any orders of service, notice sheets and magazines will also be posted online.