Our next stage in this COVID-19 journey - August
What strange times we are living in! The advice from the Coronavirus Task Force in both the Church of England and Southwark Diocese is that we don’t suddenly go from social distancing, masks, sanitiser, no singing, single shortened services etc. straight back to how things were pre-COVID but recognise that no vaccine is 100% effective and that there will be many who are, understandably, nervous about a world where suddenly anything goes. We have been advised to proceed slowly, with caution and common sense and with others in mind. The following sets out our proposed protocol until the end of August: during this time we will continue to both assess the situation and listen to your views.
It has been so good seeing an increasing number returning to worship with us and feeling safe in church when the rest of the world feels very insecure to some. Our policy for any service whether it be on a Sunday, baptism, wedding or funeral is that, we continue to show our consideration of, and love for, others by wearing masks in church for the rest of this summer. This does not apply to those leading, preaching, reading or leading intercessory prayers, nor for those in the worship group with sing, nor indeed for the bride and groom at a wedding and the wedding party entering the church.
For the time being Holy Communion will be in one kind only and, to facilitate movement around the church, we invite people to come up the central aisle and return past the piano.
Hand sanitiser points will still be available around the buildings, and we encourage their use.
There will be singing at funerals and weddings but everybody singing must wear a mask (the bride and groom will have to don them for these points). We will gradually introduce congregational singing in church for Sunday services, at present there will be either a hymn or contemporary worship song after the sermon, and then either a contemporary worship song or traditional hymn at the end of the service. We are also offering a continued time of worship after the onsite Sunday service and this will, predominantly, be singing praise to God.
For those who wish to maintain social distancing and don’t wish to sing we would suggest you sit in the choir stalls and near the back of the church where some pews will be closed off, and that those who are not worried about social distancing sit and who really want to sing sit towards the front. If you don’t want someone sitting right next to you please put an item of clothing, or a bag, on the seat next to you.
It will be really good to be worshipping together again, with the children joining us. Might I suggest that everyone brings crayons or coloured pencils or pens with you as the services may well have some craft activities, and it is better to come prepared.
I would also hope that we will be able to gradually introduce the peace and will notify you as to how we can do this in a way that clearly shows who is happy for a nod from a distance and who wants a handshake, kiss or hug – the church I went to whilst on holiday had stickers to notify this but, as someone pointed out, they were red and green which didn’t help the colour-blind!
It is to be hoped that we will be able to move to two Sunday services in the building this Autumn, and we will continue to assess what is happening, and people’s comfort levels, as we go forward.
Yours, with love in Christ, Susie