Update – limited opening of Church for private prayer....
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 please click here.
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 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.
Revd. Emma Racklyeft
Vicar at All Saints, Denmead
and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands (Portsmouth Diocese)
023 9226 2647