Church of England Diocese of Rochester East Malling

Church re-opening for public worship

4 Jul 2020, 10 a.m.
From_the_Vicar News_about_our_building Notices

The Churchwardens and I have worked to get the Church ready to reopen as soon as is safe and practicable to do so. However, we are conscious that many, probably a majority, of our congregation are in the 70's, many have underlying health conditions and many have been shielding or self-isolating since the start of the pandemic. I understand that despite a desire to return to Church it is safer for them to remain ant home and participate either in the online worship or to read Fr Derek's sermons having had them posted. 

I am keen that as many members of our congregation and the many people from outside our regular congregation who participate in the 'spiritual communion' when we celebrate communion online are still able to do so. Equally, for those who have missed physically being in Church for the Communion service I acknowledge things have been difficult.

So, the wardens and I have managed to reorder the seating of the church to allow what we believe to be a safe Communion to take place. This means that much of the building is closed off and seating has been reduced to 22 seats only, each separated from the others by 2 metres. We do not feel there is scope to introduce any more seating nor do we feel comfortable putting seats together. Rather miraculously we have however managed to live stream a service experimentally from the church (see our facebook page), its far from perfect and the connection is at best temperamental but it will at least allow those who are unable to attend to participate in the service. What all this is leading to is that we will open for a Communion service at 10am on Sunday the 5th July. As we share a priest with our sister church at Larkfield Communion will be every other week with Morning Prayer led by our Reader Mr Bramley on alternate weeks.

You should be aware of what the service will look like if you choose to attend (and I stress that if you are over 70, have the slightest concern about the COViD virus, or are showing COViD symptoms you should not attend). You will be required to sanitise your hands on arrival and before and after Communion. You will need to sit where you are directed and you should not move chairs around. 

During the service itself the peace is not being physically shared, Communion will be offered in one kind only and you should maintain social distancing at all times. This will also be a 'said' service i.e. no singing or organ music and you will be asked to take your service sheet away with you for disposal. You should also advise the sideman of your name and address on arrival so in the event of a 'track and trace' requirement being made we can assist the NHS in finding out who was at the service. Once we reach the safe capacity of 22 we will not be able ot safely admit anyone else and we ask for your co-operation in this.

Morning prayer and the weekday Eucharist will continue to be live streamed and published on our Facebook page which can be accessed from this website.

Our sister Church at Larkfieldis open for a Communion service on the weeks when St James the Great has morning prayer and vice versa

The wardens and I appreciate that this far from the position we would like to be in but the safety of the congregation is of paramount importance to us and I ask you to bear with us. In the meantime be assured of my prayer for each and every one of you.

Fr Nick