As you know, restrictions across England have now been lifted, including those in places of worship. After reading the guidelines for the coming out of Lockdown with regards to the Church of England I have consulted with the wardens/deputy wardens, some members of all our congregations and the ministry team to gauge people’s thoughts, concerns and worries.
The general consensus is that we proceed with caution. This was reiterated by colleagues in Bury and Rossendale deanery chapter meeting.
The recommendations are:-
- There are no restrictions on which services you attend. Thank you to those who transferred to Wednesday worship to enable those unable to attend mid-week to attend on a Sunday.
- We continue with the use of santiser
- Face coverings are optional but there may be parts of the service where you may want to wear one e.g. going out out/coming in
- Although we no longer need to social distance, we do need to use our common sense.
- Obviously, anyone can sit anywhere in church, but we have an identified area (the lady chapel side of the church) where anyone who feels anxious and wants to wear a mask throughout the service may do so knowing that there are other like-minded people in that area. Anyone who has concerns about returning to singing may want to sit in that area
- People will be asked to collect their service paper, service book and hymn book when they enter church, and return them on exit.
- Clergy will continue to process in the ‘short’ way.
- We resume standing up and sitting down at appropriate points in the service
- Whoever is presiding will lead the peace and wave from the altar. If you are sharing the peace you are asked to be sensitive as some people will not want to be touched. You may just want to either wave or say ‘peace be with you’ to those nearest you
- Singing will resume. MMMs will sit on the right-hand side of church (piano area, socially distanced).
- During communion we will continue receive in one kind (bread). Although we are allowed to share the common cup, at the moment it is felt that this is not appropriate yet.
- We will continue to receive in our usual way. The host will be brought to you by a priest or reader, wearing masks. The usual precautions of hand sanitising are important.
- It is envisaged that we leave tea and coffee after the Sunday service until September although we will trial socially distanced coffee during August after the Wednesday morning service.
- We look to September for re-intruding crucifers, lay assistants and sidespeople.
There will be risk assessments in place and we will be constantly reviewing what we do in terms of guidance, the COVID statistics for our area and what works for us and keeps us all safe.
It goes without saying, we hope, that if you are showing any COVID symptoms you should worship at home. In his letter to the Philippians St Paul writes: “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”. If we take this as our motto, it will help us to keep our church family safe. We can be proud of the way we have kept the church building as a safe place over this last year and thanks go to our church wardens and deputies. We hope these latest, small step changes, will enable us to continue to move forward together out of the pandemic. Thank you for your on-going support.