Church of England Diocese of St.Albans Houghton Regis

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice

The churches of All Saints and St Thomas, the worship we offer in these places, and our ministry in Houghton Regis are signs of God’s presence – they witness of his enduring love in our town and the communities we serve.

These are the regulations in force whilst the "Third Lockdown" is being lifted (and/or reviewed) by HM Government.

Vestry Hour and Confession
Vestry Hour (on Saturday mornings) is suspended. Please contact the Parish Office to arrange a virtual meetings or telephone converstations with Fr Diego. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is still avaialbe, but this requires meeting in person. Please contact either Fr Diego directly or the Parish Office to make an appointment.

Mass (with people)
Mass will be celebrated publicly on
Sundays, at All Saints' Parish Church, at 10:00am
Wednesdays, at St Thomas' Church, at 9:30am
Saturdays (Vigil Mass for Sunday), at St Thomas' Church at 6:00pm

Please note that there are hygiene, social distancing, and additional safety measures in place for these celebrations.
Wearing face coverings is compulsory - disposable face masks will be available at the door. In line with Church of England guidelines Holy Communion will be distributed in one kind only, under the form of Bread. The Precious Blood (the chalice) will not be distributed among the faithful. There will not be congregational singing at these celebrations.

Mass (online), Worship, and Teaching
During lockdown we have taken Mass, other forms of worship, and Christian teaching online - on Facebook Live and YouTube. Mass will continue to be live streamed from St Thomas' Church at the following times:
Sundays and Holy Days at 8:30am
Weekdays at 8:30am (except Wednesdays at 9:30am)
The streaming of online services is shared with the Church of the Holy Cross, Luton and St Mary's Sundon.

Opening of church buildings
According to Government advice churches across England can open. All Saints' Parish Church may open to the public for private prayer following the safety requirements put in place by the Church of England. Check our Facebook page for opening times. St Thomas' Church on Lowry Drive remains closed to the public except for Mass and for meetings of community groups which can still take place in person.

Baptisms
Baptisms (as stand alone services) will not take place during lockdown except in case of emergencies (e.g. "death-bed baptisms"). Ouside lockdown the same hygiene and social distancing regulations used for Mass (above) still apply, and we must limit the numbers of people attending to 30.

Weddings
Weddings can take place. Outside lockdown the same hygiene and social distancing regulations used for Mass (above) still apply. The Government strongly advises that the number of people attending the ceremony is restricted to 6. This maximum number includes all those at the ceremony, but not the officiating minister and other workers (e.g. organist) or volunteers employed by the church such as vergers or churchwardens. This maximum number is set to change gradually; later this years to 30, and then abolished later in Summer. The service should be kept concise while still consistent with the nature of the occasion, focusing on those parts of the marriage that are required in order to be legally binding under the law of England and Wales.

Funerals and Memorial Services
Funerals can take place in church. The same hygiene and social distancing regulations used for Mass (above) still apply. Only immediate family members can participate to the funeral service to facilitate social distancing - up to a maximum of 30.
Alternatively, funerals services can take place at Crematoria or at the graveside - where other local restriction may apply.

Worship in Care Homes and Hospital Visits
Worship in care homes led by parish volunteers is suspended as this would usually see a group of up to 10 church volunteers entering places of care and increasing the risk of spreading the virus.
Hospital visits by the Parish Priest or parish volunteers are suspended. Please, contact the Hospital Chaplaincy Team or hospital staff to arrange Pastoral Care on-site. The Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Chaplaincy team can be reached by calling 01582497370, or via email [email protected]

Home Visits by the Parish Priest
Home visits by the Parish Priest or a designated lay minister are suspended according to guidelines about indoor mixing of households.
"Door Step Communions", where the Sacrament is distributed to the faithful at their door with minimal contact, are available.

Ministry to the dying
Visits to those who are dying will continue wherever possible. Please, contact the Parish Office on 01582867246 without delay if you wish to request or discuss a visit.

As time progresses, these directives may be altered in accordance with advice from the Diocese of St Albans, HM Government, and Church of England guidelines.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Updated 20 March 2021
Created 18 March 2020