Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Bernard Hamstead

Great News ! Church to Open Again Soon !

27 Aug 2020, 3:30 p.m.

Dear friends,

We are continuing to make and amend plans for the re-opening of our Church on 6th September. We have worked hard to make sure we do this efficiently whilst maintaining the safety of all those who will enter the building. In view of this we thought it would be useful for you to know what guidelines we have put in place for those attending Church in person. Below is a step by step guide of how we will facilitate the Church opening:

Due to social distancing we are limited to 24 people in Church at any one time. To attend Church you will need to book a place. This can be done by contacting Pauline Clash via email. Her email address is [email protected] You will need to book weekly, we will not be taking block bookings. Pauline will be taking bookings from Monday each week. If you do not have access to email you can contact book your place by phone either Pauline on 07463848501 or Mike on 07758898017. Please note that this is the only way you will be able to book a place at Church. Places cannot be reserved by contacting Revd Dee. You will be able to book your place for 6th September from Monday 31st August 2020.

There will be one Sunday service only which will be at 10.00am. We have made this decision as if we held two services we would need to clean the entire Church as well as entry and exit points between services. We would ask that you arrive promptly for the service as we will not be able to provide entry for late comers.

On arrival at Church you may be asked to queue outside, to ensure we are maintaining social distancing at all times. Please bring your own mask to Church as you will be required by law to wear a mask or face covering whilst attending Church. Your mask should remain in place for the duration of the service, removing it only when taking communion. If you are exempt from wearing a mask please let Pauline know when booking your place. Once instructed to enter Church you will be greeted by a sides person who will check your name off our list. The list is there not only to ensure we are not over our agreed numbers of 24 people, but also in case it is required by track and trace. You will be asked to sanitise your hands using the hand sanitiser provided.

You will follow the floor signage into Church through the double doors next to the vestry. There you will be greeted by one of our Churchwarden’s who will direct you to your seat. We have a strict seating plan to maintain social distancing, with some pews available for family members. To aid efficiency of moving people into Church please sit where directed, and not in your usual seats. Please note that the Government and Church of England guidance states that we remain in our seats and do not move around the Church prior to the service commencing to speak to other members of the congregation.

The service itself will be live streamed for those preferring to watch from home. The camera will be positioned so that it is focussed on the altar, not the congregation. We cannot guarantee that you will not be picked up on camera whilst attending Church. Singing is not permitted in Churches so we will not require hymn books and service sheets will be available. At the end of the service on exiting to the small hall you will be able to place your service sheet in the plastic container provided by the door. These service sheets will then remain untouched for a minimum of 72 hours by which time any virus will no longer be active. This is in line with recommendations from HM Government for Places of Worship. In line with Church of England guidance we will not be physically sharing the peace during the service.

Communion will take place with the bread only. You will be directed by a Churchwarden to communion, moving from your seats when instructed to form a socially distanced queue to receive communion. We would ask that you do not approach the altar until directed by the Churchwarden. You will join the queue via the centre aisle. Upon approaching the altar please use the hand sanitiser provided, and then remove your mask. You should remain standing to receive communion and as such the altar cushions have been removed in line with guidance. Please stretch out your hands to receive the bread, which will be dropped into your hand rather than placed. You should then sanitise your hands again before replacing your mask and returning to your seat via the side aisles as directed by the Churchwarden.

At the end of the service please remain seated until instructed to leave via the door into the small hall by a Churchwarden. Please note we have a one way system in operation in Church. Should you need to leave at any point during the service this should be done via the door into the small hall. The double doors next to the vestry are for entry into Church only. The collection plate will be situated in the small hall and any giving envelopes or money can be placed here as you exit. You may wish to sanitise your hands on the way out.

Please exit the building promptly without stopping to talk to other congregation members. If you wish to talk to others this can be done outside of the building whilst maintaining a social distance. If you are doing this please be aware of the cars leaving the car park.

Whether to attend Church in person or not is an individual decision. We would share the following information we have received from Sandwell Council regarding older adults:

“The older we are, the greater our vulnerability to COVID-19 illness. Anyone aged 70 and above is at particularly high risk, with the probability of serious illness or death if infected being many times higher than that of younger people. Therefore, people aged 70 and above should seriously consider not attending communal prayers and worship at this time. If they do attend, then special arrangements should be put in place to ensure social distancing and other preventative measures are maintained for this group”.

We believe we have made our Church COVID secure to maintain your safety. It will be a personal decision as to whether you wish to attend in person or continue to watch the live-streamed service. Please do not attend Church if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19

We know this is a lot of information to take in, but we believe that by knowing what systems and processes we have in place you will be able to make an informed decision about whether you feel it is appropriate for you to come back to the Church building. As you can see it will be very different to what we are used to but we are pleased to be able to enter God’s house once more and join together to worship God.

If you have any queries about any of this guidance please contact Revd Dee via email.

With every best wish

The Standing Committee