We are aware that many of you will be wondering what things will look like in church now that the Government has moved us to step 4 of easing the Covid restrictions for our country and may be anxious about attending services.
Although most mandatory Covid restrictions are now lifted, the infection rates are still significantly high and there is much uncertainty and concerns about what will happen with this current wave which may escalate.
Many are anxious about opening up things too fully or too quickly and increasing the risk of community transmission in the present situation, which could lead to renewed and tighter restrictions this autumn.
In light of this, our churches have met and have decided that the following is the wisest course of action for Services in the immediate future.
· We believe it is wise to retain most of our Covid risk-reduction measures in our church buildings as well as our public worship services, in line with our present Risk Assessments, even though some will no longer be legally required.
· Daily cleaning of the church to minimise Covid spread
· Encourage personal practices which help protect personal safety and that of others – wise use of face coverings and sensible social distancing (as deemed appropriate by each person) in public worship services
· Retaining the present seating arrangements to help promote safe social distancing, whilst respecting individual’s choices to sit nearer to friends etc. should they wish to do so
· Passing the Peace with signing, and physical logistics for Holy Communion - continue in their current format.
· Administration of Holy Communion – although the latest Guidance no longer prohibits the use of the ‘common cup’/chalice for communicants to receive wine, we believe that this is inappropriately risky and deeply unwise as long as Covid risks prevail, and none of the clergy from our churches will consider this for the time being. However, the option of ‘simultaneous administration’ of the wafer and wine offers the opportunity to safely prepare and receive a wafer slightly dipped in the wine by the President (following all the safety protocols suggested). We are happy to offer the latter, along with the option of communing in one kind (bread only), OR coming forward for a blessing OR indeed remaining seated and prayerful!
· Communal singing is now allowed. We are happy to incorporate opportunities for singing in worship with a reduced number of congregational hymns or songs.
· Asking people to remain seated (helps to reduce projection of aerosol-based droplets), etc.
We hope that the above addresses all the issues that you may be concerned about so that you will be able to make an informed decision about attending Services. We endeavour to make everyone as safe as possible whilst starting to enjoy a little more freedom. We will be continuing to provide online worship for those who prefer to stay home present.
We will keep you informed as things continue to evolve and change.
With our continued prayers for you and your loved ones
John, Elizabeth, and Ashley