Now the government have lifted COVID restrictions, we’re into a new phase of doing life – and church – while the COVID virus is still very much around.
I’m sure that you are all wondering what this will mean for our worshipping and community life in the parish and I am keen to share the discussion and agreement we came to at this week’s PCC meeting.
At the heart of all that was talked about was the fundamental Gospel principle that we continue to love God, and love our neighbours as ourselves as Jesus commanded us to do.
While COVID infection rates remain high, we will do this by placing the highest priority on SAFETY and INCLUSIVITY in all that we do as a parish. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded from full participation in our church community, and we reject and seek to dismantle all exclusions and divisions rooted in gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, physical & mental health, and age. This season has been an important reminder to all of us of the vital place of disabled and clinically vulnerable people within the life of the church.
We will therefore continue to live stream Sunday’s service from St Andrew’s at 9.30am as well as our weekly Compline service on Thursdays at 9.00pm
Sunday morning services will continue in person at both St Andrew’s and Holy Cross at the usual times of 9.30am and 11.15am respectively . To ensure the safety of all who attend, we are continuing to limit numbers, space out the chairs, keep doors and windows open to ventilate the space, and ask you to please wear a face mask (unless you have a physical or psychological condition that means that’s difficult for you).
At St Andrew’s communion will be given to you in your seats and at Holy Cross at the chancel step. At present we will not be re-introducing the chalice.
We continue to ensure high levels of hygiene, including sanitising our hands on the way into church and those serving communion will continue to wear gloves
I know that in both our churches singing together is an important part of our worship but for the moment we will do that only at St Andrew’s for the last song, where we will be outside in the fresh air, safely distanced from one another.
All other activities that take place in our buildings will continue with similar measures in place: with limited numbers (in line with our building risk assessments), wearing face masks, physical distancing, and sanitising hands.
It is of course important that we begin to re-connect with each other with God and with ourselves
The last year has been overwhelming for all of us. Many of us have lost loved ones and have had very challenging situations to deal with and even now, there are many aspects of life that continue to cause stress and anxiety for many of us.
Over the next few months, we want to take every possible opportunity…
- to spend time together relaxing, re-connecting, and having fun together
- to spend time catching up with each other and sharing our experiences and reflections on the past year, and our hopes and plans for the coming months – paying attention to our own physical and emotional well-being and that of others
- to offer quiet spaces to reflect and pray – to connect with God, reflecting together on our past, present and future
- to host some gatherings to bring our griefs and losses to God, remembering loved ones who we have lost in the past year (or longer ago)
All these will be advertised via our website, parish Facebook page – and our weekly news sheet.
I know that some of you will be disappointed that things are not going back completely to “normal” but I do hope that you appreciate that the safety of all our parish family and wider community remain of prime importance.
The PCC has committed to review the situation in a month’s time and you will of course be fully informed of any changes.
In the meantime please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if there is any aspect of this next season that you would like to have a chat about.
Thank you for all of your support and understanding and please be assured of my love and on going prayers.