This Sunday we will be able to worship in our church building for the first time in 2020 with a service at 9am. When we moved out at the end of December 2019, none of us expected that it would be over seven months until we would return. While this comes with rejoicing, we must also acknowledge that we are still in a world changed hugely by COVID-19. Our services will be as affected by this as other areas of life. We cannot sing together, speak loudly, share refreshments nor shake hands. We will carry the tension of joy and sorrow as we gather.
The fact that church is open for worship should not make anyone feel obliged to come at this stage. Those who are in clinically vulnerable groups, at increased risk from COVID-19, should consider very carefully whether it is right for them to attend in person given the continued government advice to minimise contact with others, particularly indoors. This is especially important for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. You should not attend if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, nor if you are self-isolating because of contact with a suspected case. For everyone’s sake, we will be continuing our online worship at 10.30am on Facebook (www.facebook.com/allsaintsnewtownlinford/live) as well, as well as the phone service line on 01530 449 500.
Here are some details, to give you an idea of what to expect.
As we are meeting at 9am, we are able to use the meadow at the back of church for free parking. Please leave the foot gate open so people don’t have to touch it. Entrance will by the main south door only except for those require accessible facilities. Otherwise the north door will be used only for exit. We will open the doors no more than 15 minutes before the service time. If you arrive before the doors are open or at the same time as others, please queue along the south side of the building, adhering to the 2m distance markers on the path.
We are taking the steps necessary to make it as safe as practical for people who attend. Please do your bit by bringing a face covering to wear (disposable ones will be available at the entrance if you forget), using the hand sanitizer when entering and leaving the building, by keeping your distance from others at all times and by following the instructions of the clergy/sidespeople. If you are exempt from wearing a mask, printing a copy of the government commended small card, as attached, is suggested.
On entry please go straight to a seat, filling up from the front and from the wall in. Pews which may be sat in will be clear from the presence of a service sheet on the seat. This should be taken away with you after the service. One household may sit per pew, or two individuals sat at either end.
We will need to ask for name and contact information of those who attend in case this needs to be supplied to contact tracers. A form to complete will be with the order of service. Please put this form only in the container supplied at the exit. This will be kept securely in the safe and destroyed after three weeks.
If you bring children with you, they will need to remain in the pew with you. Do bring your own quiet toys/books/colouring as the children’s corner is not able to be used at present.
This service will not include Holy Communion. We will be assessing how this can best be done safely – doing it will decrease our capacity – and intend to hold a Communion service before the end of the month.
A collection will not be taken during the service, but there will be a plate available if you wish to place anything on it as you leave church. However, the simplest and safest method of giving is to do so direct from your bank. If you haven’t done so yet, perhaps now is the time to switch to giving by the Parish Giving Scheme or online (https://bit.ly/asnl-donate)? We can easily let you have the details.
The toilet will be available, but we would ask you to use the provided disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces you touch before and after use. The kitchen is closed.
Once the service is over you will be asked to leave – starting with those nearest the north fire exit. There will be no refreshments after the service. People must not congregate in groups for conversation, particularly indoors.
It would be helpful to have an idea of expected attendance, you may indicate this either on our website (www.allsaintsnewtownlinford.org.uk/services) or by contacting me direct. I anticipate that there will be sufficient space for those who wish to attend to do so safely. Should there be a situation where the church has reached safe capacity, which is 33 people, please don’t be offended if you are told that unfortunately you can’t come in on this occasion. We’ll make sure you get priority seating next week and will introduce a more formal booking system to prevent it happening again.