Weekly Update – 14th June 2020
... from Revd Emma.
First mentioned last Sunday, and then trickling through in various forms this past week, the Church of England has received permission from the Government to re-open our church buildings for ‘limited, supervised, private prayer’ and ‘small funerals’ only. This is a welcome first step in the re-opening of our church buildings, but it is of course surrounded by strict guidance and legislation which comes into effect this weekend, in order to create safe spaces, that are in line with social distancing guidelines, so that all individuals attending our church building, and those who work there, have minimal risk of exposure to the infection.
In our Diocese, Bishop Christopher has been quite clear in communication with Clergy and Churchwardens, that this is permission to open, we are not being instructed to do so if we are not ready or able. Many local churches in our Deanery have already weighed up their situations and have decided that it is not safe at this time for them to re-open. Many churches do not have the appropriate facilities to open safely and securely. However, here at All Saints we are blessed with a flexible space, and so myself, Steve and Amanda, working with Peter, our Lay Minister, and the wider PCC have carefully evaluated our situation and formed a robust risk-assessment which takes into account all possible areas of risk and establishes new practices to mitigate and to minimise the potential risks. If you would like to view this risk-assessment it will be available on our church website at the start of this week.
Our plan initially is to open every Wednesday between 10am -12 noon and again on Saturday between 12 noon – 2pm for supervised, private prayer. We will be limiting the number of individuals in the building at any time (maximum of 8 people) and have introduced several measures to make sure social distancing is observed, and good hygiene practices kept. We will also be implementing a thorough cleaning process to ensure furniture and points of contact are kept clean and safe.
We want our church building to be a safe, warm welcoming space, a place of prayer, comfort and hope. But inevitably there have been several key changes. First, on arrival you may find that you must wait outside in a queue, until it is safe for you to enter our church. The doors will remain open during these sessions, to promote good ventilation, and we ask you not to touch any door handles etc. You will be asked to sanitise your hands, on both entry and exit. The layout of furniture is now different, and you will only be able to access the back area of church and our chapel. The main body of church remains sectioned off. You will not be able to access prayer books, hymn books or Bibles. Instead you may want to bring your own prayer book or Bible, but you will need to hold onto them and take them with you when you leave. Government guidance also suggests that those aged 70 or older are at increased risk of severe disease regardless of medical conditions. And so, the advice is that those aged 70+ minimise contact with others outside their household and that includes visits to places of worship. Toilets will not be available for use and we may have to limit visiting time if a session becomes busy. There won’t be the facility for leaving written prayers or messages – if you have one please email through to firstname.lastname@example.org who will add on your behalf.
The church building will always be staffed by two supervisors, who will be there to assist and to answer any questions. These supervisors are Steve Venn, Amanda Hillyard, Peter Mitchell and myself.
As yet, we have not fully assessed and evaluated our building for ‘small funerals’, but we will do so in this next week, so that potentially we could re-open for a small funeral later this month and beyond. Everything else, all services, events, groups, and activities at All Saints remains suspended at this time.
So, to wrap up, we will be re-opening for two sessions of supervised, private prayer.
You are most welcome to visit on a Wednesday 10am - 12noon or on a Saturday 12noon - 2pm if you feel you are able to do so.
Firstly, a Eucharist service from the Diocese you may like to view this Sunday:
- Diocesan Morning Eucharist, Sunday 14th June at 9am. Join with Bishop Christopher and team for a Eucharist service that will include hymns, gospel readings and prayers of intercession.
Services from All Saints this Sunday and next week are as follows:
- Today 14th June 10am First Sunday after Trinity there will be a short act of worship, including hymns and songs, confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection. We will be starting a new teaching series in the book of Romans.
- On Sunday 21st June at 10am there will be a short act of worship including hymns and songs, confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection, this time from Peter Mitchell our Lay Minister. We will also include a short focus on Father’s Day.
These services are available either on our Facebook page, or on our website:
A word of thanks from Peter Mitchell, our Lay Minister (Reader):
Each year at our AGM/APCM we acknowledge and give our thanks to Peter Mitchell, our Lay Minister (Reader) for his service and ministry amongst us. Now this year we were not able to do this as hoped, so instead we sent our thanks and gift to him virtually!
"I should like to thank Emma and the PCC for their recent gift of £250 in recognition of my ministry in this parish; I have already been looking eagerly at some new books in Blackwell's on-line shop.
May I add that it is a privilege and a delight to serve God in this way amongst such a friendly and generous community of faithful people. I look forward to this continuing as, embracing these unusual circumstances, we seek new ways of expressing our collective discipleship, worship and mission."
As I close, if at any point you have questions about our building re-opening, or you have a prayer request, or would just like a friendly chat, please do ring me at the Vicarage on 9226 2647. If possible, I may be able to arrange a visit either in the church garden, or indeed to your garden.
With every blessing in Christ,
Revd. Emma Racklyeft
Vicar at All Saints, Denmead