10:30am Sunday Zoom services will be continuing to allow all to join, regardless of health worries. However, a schedule of Sunday Services in the benefice churches is being developed.
Sunday Services in the Church Buildings will be announced here or via email.
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Services in May
This pattern of times and locations will be followed during April and possibly through to June with Holy Communion alternating between the parishes.
SUNDAY 20th June 2021
9.00 am Morning Prayer at Moddershall.
9.15 am Holy Communion at Christ Church, Stone.
10.30 am Benefice Zoom service:
6.00 pm Evening Prayer at Oulton
SUNDAY 27th June 2021
9.15 am Morning Prayer at Christ Church, Stone.
10.30 am Benefice Zoom service:
6.00 pm Holy Communion at Oulton
We have now reached the anniversary of the first lockdown, and as a benefice of churches it has been a difficult year with so many things disrupted. We have had to persevere through many changes in the guidelines for action to minimise risk of spreading the virus.
More recently, just before the Government announced the third lockdown, we received a letter from the Staffordshire health department informing us of the local danger of the new South African variant. In view of this our Diocese allowed churches, at their own discretion, not to hold services ‘in person’ until Easter.
So, what have we been able to do? Many things!
- “In person” services (when permitted – no singing) on Sunday mornings and evenings.
- Live Benefice services each week using ‘Zoom’ – a video link that allows multiple participants to be part of a service with real singing! This has been put together and run by a team of people from our churches. I am very thankful that we are blessed with enough technical skill to do this well.
- Weekly short recorded services, prepared by the Vicar and his family at home and uploaded onto YouTube, which are also available via Facebook or the Christ Church website (www.christchurchstone.org).
- Midweek Bible studies via Zoom.
- Occasional services (particularly funerals) in the church buildings.
- Home groups have continued to meet using Zoom.
- School assemblies have been filmed by the ‘Open the Book’ team and sent to school for viewing.
- An after school ‘club’ called Ebenezer, has been prepared and filmed by our Children’s and Families’ worker Peter Cuthbert three times a week. This is available on YouTube via the Christ Church website.
- Pastoral care: thanks to the pastoral care groups we are continuing to keep tabs on the flock.
- Prayer meetings: we have continued our usual monthly meeting by Zoom at 9.00 am on the first Saturday of the month. We also have a short prayer meeting on Zoom at 10.00 am each Sunday, just before our Benefice Zoom service.
As we inch our way towards returning to in-person services with a very restricted maximum capacity, may I remind you that we have to observe the guidelines, which are:
- We take personal details for ‘Test and Trace’. These can be taken in advance to avoid delays at the start of the service.
- We are required to observe social distancing.
- We must wear face masks. These must be in place before entering the premises.
- We all must use hand sanitizer on entering the building.
- We have to space out seating (this reduces the seating capacity by a lot!).
- We are not permitted to sing.
- We are not permitted to mingle to chat, during or after the service.
- Holy Communion is ‘in one kind only’ i.e. bread but not wine.
Please encourage others to attend the Zoom Service or watch the recorded service on YouTube as we meet to worship the risen Lord Jesus.
Neither Christ Church or Oulton will be open for private prayer until further notice.
Read about the steps we have put in place for when we will be holding services again, below, and here.
This, however, this has to be a spoken service with many and various restrictions in addition to the 2m distancing and the advice for vulnerable groups).
Please note, the wearing of face masks at places of worship is now MANDATORY so all attendees at the communion service or prayer sessions will be required to wear a face covering at all times when in the church (except, one assumes, at the point of consuming the bread.)
The extra precautions include:
- No physical contact between communicants or at the peace.
- Hand sanitiser for all on entering the building.
- Minister to cover the bread while speaking prayers, and to minimise the handling of bread.
- Distribution in silence.
- Communion in one kind only (i.e. bread, but not wine).
- Minister will bring bread to you at your seat: please stand when I approach to indicate that you are receiving.
- Bread to be dropped into the hand (please ensure a flat had to receive this).
- No words to be used at this point.
- At the conclusion of the service the congregation to leave without delay.
While these procedures are restrictive, we hope that putting these in place provides confidence about entering the building to pray as an individual. We will have stewards to welcome and oversee the time. Please note that for a flow through arrangement this requires entering and exiting through different doors as indicated.
If you suspect that you have symptoms of COVID-19 viral infection then we ask that you do not enter the building, but seek medical advice immediately.
The procedure that we will follow to minimise risk for visitors:
- Entrance: through the old entrance (Radford Street side).
- Hygiene: on entry you will be required to use hand sanitiser.
- Registration: you will need to give some personal details since we have to keep a temporary register of visitors. In the event of an outbreak this will enable the NHS to track and trace.
- Seats: marked with a tick or cross to show where to sit. These have been placed to ensure the 2-metre social distancing that is still required.
- A sheet of prayers for your use which we ask you to take with you on your departure. This will identify where someone has already sat and enable another person to find a new place.
- Exit: through the new foyer.
We have been praying for the community all through this difficult time for the relief of suffering, the sustaining of medical staff and other care workers, but also for the end of the pandemic. We invite you to join in this with us at this time.
We will update the plans and arrangements for services when appropriate.
If you are thinking of coming to Christ Church, we wish you to be aware of the following from the government website on the opening of churches.
Individuals aged 70 years and over attending the place of worship
- Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions.
- Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.
- You should consider informing these groups in particular of the symptoms of COVID-19 and current stay alert and social distancing guidance.
Individuals who are extremely clinically vulnerable/shielding
- The NHS has written to around 2.2. million who are considered to be extremely clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, advising them to shield. See the current guidance for this group. Shielded patients are currently advised not to meet more than one person from outside of their own household, and therefore currently advised not to attend places of worship. From Monday 6 July, those shielding individuals may choose to gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a support bubble with another household, they will therefore still be advised not to attend places of worship indoors. Advice for both the clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable is however advisory and they can choose how to manage their own risks.
The Vicar and wardens of Christ Church, Stone.