Church of England Diocese of Southwark Benhilton

HOW MASS WORKS DURING THE LOCKDOWN AT ALL SAINTS' BENHILTON

SUNDAY MASS: Following a careful study of the Government rules, the Church of England advice, and the growing Catholic consensus, we continue to offer Mass on Sundays at 9.30 a.m. Because of Covid-19 until further notice there is only that ONE Mass (i.e. no 8.00am Mass).

BUT GREAT CARE MUST BE TAKEN: The special precautions we have put in place reflect our responsibility to keep one another safe, and to ensure that we do nothing inadvertently to aid and abet any fresh spread of COVID-19 . . .

(1) CLEANING THE CHURCH BUILDING: Our cleaning team is ensuring that all surfaces in the church that are easily touched are regularly disinfected and cleaned.

(2) CLEANING OUR HANDS: A cleaning station has been set up just inside the main church door so that we can all cleanse our hands with the hand sanitisers on arriving and departing, using the disposable paper hand towel, if necessary, then putting it in the bin provided.

(3) HOLY WATER STOUPS: These remain empty for the time being.

(4) LIGHTING CANDLES AT THE SHRINES: Before the doors are opened, large candles will be lit at each of the shrines in the church. If you wish to light a votive candle as you pray privately before or after Mass, it is to be lit directly from one of these large candles before putting it into place, as there will be no taper or hand held candle snuffer available. This will avoid double-handling of any object). The extinguishing of candles is done with an extinguisher rather than 'blown out.' 

(5) SOCIAL DISTANCING IS VITAL:

(a) Every second pew is cordoned off.

(b) With the exception of members of the same household, everyone is asked to keep two metres apart if possible, but certainly “one metre plus” apart.

This is easily achieved at All Saints’ by allowing only three people to each of the larger pews in the main part of the nave, equally spaced, and strictly two to three people in the slightly shorter pews in the side aisles. 

(c) Everyone is asked to observe the ‘one-way’ system: i.e. to use the centre aisle when entering the church, and the side aisles when leaving.

(6) THE TOILETS: These will remain closed during this time. In emergency, please speak to one of the Churchwardens. The toilets are disinfected in between each use.

(7) ONLY ‘TAKE-AWAY’ MASS SHEETS WILL BE AVAILABLE: Please do not return these on your way out, but take them home so that multi-handling cannot occur.

(8) ‘SUPERVISION’: Churchwardens and their assistants will be on duty. Please don’t hesitate to approach them if you need help or information.

(9) REGARDING THE MASS:

(a) For the time being we are not able to have congregational or choral singing.

(b) Readers are asked not to touch the microphone. The celebrant  will be watching to see if it needs adjusting, and will do that himself if necessary, to avoid multi-handling.

(c) The celebrant will make the preparations for Mass in the sacristy and at the credence table, and will clear up  afterwards. (It seems odd to say ‘please don’t help’ - but that is to avoid multi-handling of any object!)

(d) There will be no passing the plate for the collection. Instead, a plate will be put out at the back of the church for a ‘retiring collection’. This will be put into a plastic bag and counted at least 72 hours later.

(e) There will be no offertory procession of the bread and wine, which will already be on the credence table.

(f) Because the kneelers have been removed so as to avoid double handling, the people are asked to SIT when they would normally kneel (unless they are able to kneel on the hard floor without a kneeler).

(g) The Peace will be given just verbally between the priest and the people . . . i.e. no ‘sign of peace’ with handshakes or hugs!

(10) THE GIVING OF HOLY COMMUNION

(a) When the celebrant has said ‘Behold the Lamb of God’, and the people have responded, ‘Lord, I am not worthy...’, the celebrant will hold up the covered ciborium containing the peoples Hosts and say ‘The Body of Christ.’ All respond together 'Amen.' He will then hold up the chalice and say 'The Blood of Christ' . The people respond, 'Amen.' This is to eliminate close-up dialogue between the priest and the communicant as Holy Communion is given.

(b) After the celebrant has received Holy Communion, he will thoroughly sanitise his hands, uncover the ciborium containing the people's Hosts, and put on his face covering and surgical glove. Meanwhile, the people form a single line down the centre aisle, and are asked to keep the same kind of distance from each other that is required at the supermarket checkout.

(c) The people remain standing ‘in queue’ for Holy Communion, (i.e. not spreading themselves along the altar rail).

(d) Neither the celebrant nor the communicant says anything as Holy Communion is given. Blessings also are given silently and without touching.

(e) The celebrant stands on the step between the altar rails. Each communicant is asked to reach out their hands at ‘full stretch’ - i.e. keeping a good distance from the celebrant.

(f) Holy Communion is given in ‘one kind’, i.e. the Body of Christ only. And, for the time being, Holy Communion is given only on the hand, not on the tongue.

(g) The celebrant will place the ciborium in the Tabernacle, and then cleanse the vessels himself.

(11) AT THE END OF MASS: The celebrant gives the blessing and goes to the sacristy without returning to greet people as they leave. Refreshments are not able to be served, and the people are asked to leave for home without delay.

(12) A COUPLE OF EXTRA POINTS:

We ask that if you or someone in your household has contracted Covid-19 or seem to have symptoms, you stay at home for the Government-designated quarantine period.

We understand if you are not able to be with us just yet. But we do look forward to having you with us again. In the meantime, please stay in touch by phone/email or post. We will always be glad to hear from you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Father David Chislett SSC (Vicar)

Carolyn Melius (Churchwarden)

Linda Roots (Churchwarden)