Church of England Diocese of Exeter Topsham

COVID GUIDELINES FOR SERVICES IN CHURCH

This page sets out the guidelines that we have put in place for services in church. Please rest assured that we have carefully followed all the government and church guidelines in order to make things as safe as we possibly can for you. Inevitably, this means one or two changes from what you have been used to in the past and we hope you will be understanding of this.

* You will need to wear a face mask throughout the service (except, of course, at the actual moment of taking bread during a Communion service) unless you fall within one of the categories exempted by the government. So please do remember to bring your face mask with you. But just in case you get half way to church and realise you’ve forgotten yours, fear not...we will have one or two spare masks in church too.

* Please arrive in good time so that entry can be staggered. The number of households that can attend services is unfortunately limited in order to maintain social distancing in line with government guidance, so it's a good idea to arrive in good time in any event. In a few cases, it is necessary to pre-register for a service - please see the details for the relevant service on this website for further information.

* When you arrive, the Stewards will take your name and contact details for Track and Tracepurposes.

* Hand sanitisers will be available at the entrance.

* The Stewards will direct you to your pew. Similarly, at the end of the service, you will be asked to leave pew by pew.

* Please avoid congregating outside church before or after the service; at the moment the time to socialise as a larger group is through one of our Zoom offerings or in the breakout rooms after the Zoom Sunday service.

* Only the bread will be distributed at Communion - it is not yet permitted to distribute the wine. Do remember, though, you don’t have to receive the bread at all if you feel worried or uncomfortable about it. You can always just come up to the front for a blessing - or indeed remain quietly in your pew. Feel free to do whatever you feel comfortable with.

* During the Peace, we will need to continue to use the sign language peace and smile with our eyes.

* Finally, it goes without saying, I hope, that if you have any Covid symptoms or have been in contact recently with anyone who has symptoms or has tested positive for Covid, please don't venture out to church - but feel free to drop me an email if you need any help or support whatsoever, a listening ear, someone to pray for you, a practical pair of hands to help with shopping etc.

I’m aware this list of do’s and don’t’s may sound daunting and off-putting to some of you, all the more so in the context of worship and in the sacred space of our church building. But please don’t be discouraged. Take heart. We will do our best together, as a church family, to work within what is permitted and find new ways to relate to each other and to God whilst in our church buildings.

And for those of you who are not able to be with us in person at a service or who do not feel comfortable about coming out to church, please know that you will be held very much in prayer, and we will continue offering our Zoom services online, which can be accessed through a computer or the telephone. It's been testament to the strength of the body of Christ that we have found so many new ways of staying connected, being a community this year, even as we look forward to revisiting some old familiar ways also.

Remember...it is important for each person to assess their risk before venturing into church. If you are in a high risk category, please know that we always pray as a body in Christ, and so we collectively hold up before God our prayers, even when some of us can't be physically present ourselves. In fact, don't hesitate to pass on to me prayers that you may wish to be prayed in the church building, if you can't make that journey through the church doors yourself. And your prayers at home or indeed wherever you draw close to God are just as valid; God draws so close to us in our time of need, and prayer ministry made by those who are sheltering continues to be a powerhouse in the church through this time of trial.

Finally, please rest assured that our online services via Zoom and via telephone link will continue for the foreseeable future, even once our church buildings start to be used more. So, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, we will do our best to ensure that you can join in our services in whatever way works best for you.

God bless,

Louise