Church of England Diocese of Lichfield Saint Martin, Rough Hills

Churches reopening for worship

2 Jul 2020, 10:30 a.m.
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A Pastoral Letter from the Clergy of the parishes of Holy Trinity, Ettingshall, St Martin's, Rough Hills and St Stephen's, Springfield

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

You will be aware that, as from Saturday 4 July, our churches can once again be open for public worship. How we have missed coming together, gathering around the Risen Christ, and being nourished by him in Word and Sacrament. You will know, because it has been stated often, how much we have missed the regular coming together of our worshipping communities. The last four months have been difficult in so many ways! We wish to return to the sacred spaces of our churches, and to receive the sacraments - which are so vital to our life as Christians.

The Mass is vital. It is the very gift of God’s own self. It is our partaking in the life of God, and without it we are impoverished as Christians.

Given the amount of preparation involved we are recommending that we re-commence public worship on SUNDAY, 12 JULY. Whilst this may appear to be a week of delay, This enables us to contact and keep as many people as possible in the loop. People in the following circumstances should not attend church.

● Anyone with symptoms or suspected symptoms of Covid-19.

● Anyone who has been in recent contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms

● Anyone in a vulnerable or shielding category

● Anyone who is self-isolating.

The circumstances in which we will gather will, however, have changed markedly. Our gatherings come with strict conditions. Firstly, our bishops have kept in place the dispensation from attendance at Sunday Mass. This means that anyone who, for any valid reason feels unable to attend, should be free to stay at home.

In order to attend Sunday worship, it is really important to ‘book’ in advance. This is primarily so that we can easily limit the congregation to safe numbers. (The limits for each church are as follows: Holy Trinity: 35 St Martin’s: 30 St Stephen’s 35). This is a matter of Government Regulation.

We are asked to collect simple contact details for all who attend. This will enable us to make contact should any member of a particular congregation contract Covid-19.

In practical terms:

● There will be hand sanitiser, and clear signs to ask people to use it.

● Our orders of service will be single use only, and must be taken away by the worshipper and destroyed afterwards.

● For the time being there can be no congregational singing.

● There will be no common cup and no exchanging of the peace.

● Communion will be received in one kind standing at the chancel step, in the hands, with arms outstretched.

● No collections will be taken. There will be plates for cash, but please note, cash poses a risk of infection not least for those who must handle and count it. (Ideally as many people as possible should switch to standing order.) Collections will need to be quarantined.

● There will be no gathering before or after the service (though of course, if the weather is fine, there is nothing to prevent a socially distanced chat in the grounds - but not in groups of more than two households or six individuals!)

● Regrettably it will not be possible to offer lifts to and from church for the time being.

● There will be no public toilets available. (The Mass will taken no longer than 40 minutes)</span>

Our Sunday Services will remain as follows:

Holy Trinity, Ettingshall: 9.30 am

St Stephen’s, Springfield: 11 am

St Martin’s, Rough Hills: 11.30 am

BOOKING IS REQUESTED AT ALL SUNDAY SERVICES

Sunday Masses will be virtually identical, simple said Mass with music.

To indicate if you wish to attend, telephone:

Holy Trinity: 01902 478679/07949 570387 – please leave a voicemail.

St Martin’s 01902 373145 – please leave a voicemail.

St Stephen’s 07484 121109 – please leave a voicemail

Please make sure you ring by Friday 12 noon each week.

Weekdays

We will continue to live-stream Evening Prayer every weekday at 5pm. Further worship will depend on capacity.

It should be noted that we are having to respond very quickly to new sets of advice. We will not be fully functioning as we would like until at least September, and very possibly after that, but what you have read represents our first swing at this.

We look forward – more than we can say – to seeing you at worship. Even if you are not able to be present, we shall be offering mass and praying with and for you all. If anyone would like to be particularly prayed for - or would just like a chat, please do ring.

Please remember! As with everything to do with the pandemic, things can change very quickly!

This comes with our love, prayers and good wishes for all.

Fr. Damian Feeney       Fr Adam Edwards

Fr Roger Gilbert            Fr Tony Hutchinson

Brother Ross Brooks