Across the country, places of worship are slowly opening their doors once again, after the months of closure during the worst of the COVID 19 pandemic. Coronavirus has not gone away. It is still around and still dangerous – witness events in Leicester. It’s just that our chances of encountering it are lower than a few months ago.
We want to say a massive THANK YOU to everybody, because it’s been a big challenge over the past few months. Thank you to everyone who’s been involved in helping and caring for people in our community.
In the past weeks, Great Gidding PCC has thought about how to open St Michael’s for individual prayer, ensuring we take every precaution to ensure that the virus is not transmitted. As you now know, we are now open.
Sundays: 1pm – 5pm Thursdays: 9.30am – 1pm
If you go into your church for prayer, you will find it a bit different. You will be asked to sanitize your hands before you go in and when you leave; pews will be roped off and you’ll have to sit where directed. There won’t be any service leaflets or Bibles to look at. You are asked to keep 2 metres away from others.
But God is the same, and will hear your prayer. Of course, God will also hear your prayer if you decide it’s easier, or safer, to pray at home, or on your walk, or in the bath……
Now, we are being asked to consider how we will slowly re-open our churches for public services. We are not rushing to do this. As we reopen, we need to make sure everybody is safe, and so we need to prepare carefully. This means that we won’t re-introduce any Sunday or Tuesday morning services before the beginning of September (this does not include weddings or funerals, which have their own set of instructions).
However there will be a short period when the church will be shut at the end of this month. After the closure of the church at 5pm on the evening of Sunday 26th July, the church will not be available again for private prayer until the morning of Thursday 6th August.
From September, we will have an interim, or temporary, pattern for a while. During the next few months, and maybe for the foreseeable future, we will have to continue some kind of online presence for those who have enjoyed it, and are not in a position to be in church on a Sunday. Although Great Gidding PCC have done a risk assessment for public worship, some people will not feel safe just at the moment. People remain vulnerable. That doesn’t matter. We need to care for them and to continue that care.
Church just won’t be ‘church’ for a while. There’ll be guided ways in and out; restrictions on where you can sit; you’ll have to sanitize your hands as you come in and go out and even before we receive communion; no one will hand you books – there’ll be a service leaflet for you to pick up; there won’t be any sharing of the peace, or coffee, or taking wine at Holy Communion (and you can’t kneel at the altar rail); there’ll be no singing; and you’ll have to leave your name and address (for Track and Trace purposes). The recommendation is that at least the ministers wear face masks as they distribution of communion. And we have to encourage you to leave rather than stay and talk to one another. Some people won’t want to go to church if it’s like that. That doesn’t matter.
Your ministers don’t want to become ‘super spreaders’. The healthcare professionals and science community are expecting a second wave or spike in COVID 19 cases, especially as autumn comes. We don’t want to do things to increase people’s risk of catching this. Neither do we want to ask volunteers to do lots of work which then has to stop and be repeated.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Fiona or John.
Revd Fiona Brampton
29 Church Road Great Stukeley PE28 4AL
Tel: 01480 538 726 or mobile: 07305658032 (WhatsApp on this number)
John De Val
Tel: 01832 293417