Lockdown and Church Services in the Benefice
Although the law permits public worship, with restrictions, the Church of England has lifted the requirement to hold an in-person service on for the time being In the light of the new National Lockdown and local development of Covid19 cases.
The PCC’s of both parishes met this week, on Zoom, to discuss the approach in the benefice.
It was recognised that a number of people struggle to engage with the Zoom Online service, whilst others enjoy the spiritual focus that sitting in their church can achieve.
Whilst the measures at the churches have been satisfactory to date, there was concern that they may not be sufficient to prevent the virus passing amongst the congregation and officiants.
The PCC’s were particularly aware that the majority of those who do attend the churches are in the most vulnerable age group (aged 70 or over) who are advised to stay at home as much as possible.
The government’s message is clear, that we should stay at home and avoid contact, wherever possible, to protect ourselves and others and to reduce the spread of the new virulent strain of the coronavirus. By opening the church we add an unnecessary risk of infection which, if caught, could have really serious consequences.
It was with a degree of reluctance that the PCC’s agreed that we will suspend all worship and open prayer activities in any of the churches of the benefice whilst the lockdown is in place.
We have been well provided by having a Benefice Zoom service every week (bar one) since March, and the intention is to continue with this provision. There has also been a shorter service put on Facebook and YouTube each week since March for those who struggle with Zoom.
If you want to join us on Zoom, or have concerns about how to view or join in with Zoom (you can do it with just a normal phone, include a traditional landline) please speak to Andy Stone (contact via the Church Office.) If you know someone in this position, please pass Andy’s details on to them.
You can sign up for notices and the Zoom Service initiations here –> Sign-up Form.
We apologise for the short notice. If you know of anyone who attends the services but who doesn’t have the email circulation from us, then you might kindly mention it to them.
Meanwhile, let’s give ourselves to earnest prayer for the physical health of the nation and for the spiritual awakening of the church.
Revd Paul Kingman (vicar)
For and on behalf of the wardens.
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 attending 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.