As I sit and write this letter, I have been reviewing yet more missives from the church authorities with their interpretation of government guidance about handling our interaction one with another, as we seek to restore some normality to our lives.
How are you managing with the abnormal conditions we meet day-by-day? From Friday 24 July we are required under pain of £100 fine to wear face coverings in designated enclosed spaces. I wonder where you stand on the imposition of this regulation. Are you thankful that the measure will provide some added protection from the Covid-19 virus being carried toward you in droplets or aerosol transmission, or are you wondering whether it has gone beyond necessity and is an imposition on your freedom?
For guidance within our churches, The House of Bishops Recovery Group has pronounced that:
We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
We have now held two trial services in church, and I had already mandated that we do wear facemasks when we come to worship. This created some challenging personal choreography with the need to sterilize hands and move masks aside as we receive Communion and I pray that these practicalities will be kept in perspective as we necessarily adapt to this abnormal situation.
Back to my question above! As Christians, we have a clear God-directed motive for what we do and that is to show love for our neighbour. We should not be driven by fear or anxiety, for God calls us to “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7. Rather, our love for our neighbour will cause us to accept some minor discomfort as we seek to reduce the risk to others of potentially catching the virus from any of us who may be an unaware asymptomatic carrier.
From our reflection on the trial services, we continue to refine the necessary and reasonable steps to mitigate the risk within our fellowship. With the Standing Committee and Lay Ministers, I invite you to let us know that you would like to return to worship in church. We may need to limit the numbers who attend through some form of weekly rotation to ensure safe social distancing.
An invitation to apply to attend worship in church
I am pleased to invite you to apply to return to worship in church toward the end of August, following my return from annual leave.
We have placed seat cushions in alternate pews at approximately 1.5m centres which allows us to accommodate up to 50 people. As such we may need to manage who will attend week by week, so I am asking you to respond to Sue Fenn:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to say you would like to attend worship at church. This only needs to be done once. I know that several of our fellowship will not yet apply because of their need to remain shielding.
- Sue will manage the rotation of names to ensure that everyone can attend as frequently as possible.
I anticipate that we can accommodate up to 40 people attending initially. As people become more comfortable to attend, we will be able to go to 50 each week, keeping within the distancing guidelines.
If you would like to apply, please send your request to Sue by Friday 7 August.
With my prayers,