We’re really looking forward to welcoming you to the church building on Sunday mornings.
On Monday 19th July, the Government moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap to easing Covid restrictions in England. The purpose of this article is to give you a guide as how to get ready for the service, and what changes you can expect to encounter in our services.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been following the Government’s guidance, out of love for our neighbour (Matthew 22:37-40) and our duty to submit to the government that God has given us (Romans 13:1-7).
This has meant that we’ve had all sorts of restrictions on our gathered worship services: we’ve been unable to sing or hang around to chat and we’ve had to maintain strict social distancing. It’s been a strange and difficult time for us as we’ve gathered weekly to worship.
Before You Leave Home
Getting ready for the service on Sunday begins at home:
- Are you feeling well?
If you’re not feeling well at all, or you have any of the government recognised symptoms of coronavirus, we would ask you to stay at home and join us online.
- Have you got a face covering?
Wearing a face covering in a public place is no longer a legal requirement. We would encourage people to continue to wear face coverings whilst attending our services. This will continue to reduce the risk of a covid outbreak at the chapel, and will reassure those who might be feeling anxious about gathering indoors.
New guidelines for church services
All legal restrictions on gatherings for worship have now been removed by the government. We’re so thankful for the new freedoms that we have as we worship the Lord together, but we want to use them sensibly, making sure that we are not reckless as we do so.
So, what has changed?
1. Face Coverings
By law, wearing a face-covering is now a personal choice. We would strongly encourage you to wear a face-covering whilst indoors and in a crowded place. If you would wear a face mask in the supermarket, we would ask you to consider wearing a mask during our church services.
If the vast majority of people are wearing face coverings then that will help to protect the vulnerable and reassure the anxious in our midst.
Perhaps the biggest and certainly one of the most joyful changes will be the return of singing in our public worship. We haven’t sung any songs together in over 16 months. We’ve been well served by a variety of recordings of musicians playing our favourite hymns and songs, but how much better will it be for us to be able to sing to the Lord once more?
We will encourage people to wear face masks whilst we sing, and the building will continue to be well ventilated with all windows open, in order to reduce the risks of any transmission of disease.
We will continue to provide hand sanitiser throughout the church building and would encourage you to use it regularly, and any that you might bring with you.
4. Time to Chat
One of the sadder restrictions was the prohibition of people “mingling” before or after church services. From this Sunday, we would encourage you, if you feel able, to come early or hang around afterwards to chat and encourage one another.
5. Continue to be mindful of space
We would ask that people continue to be mindful of others personal space. It’s probably not the best idea to hug or to shake hands, and some people will be uncomfortable if people get too close. We have set out approximately 2/3rds of the normal amount of chairs so that there is plenty of space between rows.
6. No need to book
There will no longer be any need to book to come to our services on a Sunday, and we won’t ask you for your contact details when you arrive or to check in with the NHS app.
7. No more one-way system
We’re also removing the one-way system that saw people entering via the front door, and then exiting through the fire doors, household-by-household at the end of the service. People will be free to come in and out via the foyer and choose where to sit, whilst being mindful of others.
8. Feeling unwell? Stay home
If you are feeling in any way unwell, we would ask that you stay home and get a covid test. We have had no outbreaks of covid at our services and gatherings and would love for that to continue.
Everything will continue to be available online
The service will continue to be live-streamed, so that those who need to remain at home, for the time being, will be able to access exactly the same service. You can watch any of our services on YouTube:
A work in progress
Over the coming weeks, there will be tweaks, changes, and other adaptations made. We don’t consider this to be the final form for our church services, and must also be aware of the possibility that restrictions might be reimposed during the autumn or winter.
This is more like “normal” church but we’re not there quite yet.