(First posted in July; updated September 2020)
On Sunday, 26 July 2020, we held our first services in church since March at Ellingham and Aldeby (both Morning Prayer). It was really exciting to get together again, albeit taking care in view of the restrictions upon us.
In light of CHURCH OF ENGLAND guidance, mixed with some common sense, this is what we ask you to do when you arrive at church:
1. We will be operating a clear Social-Distancing policy. Please take care to observe this when walking to the church and on entering;
2. Please take care not to Congregate Inside the Porch and compromise social-distancing measures;
3. On entering the church, you will be directed to use a Hand-Sanitiser;
4. You will then be asked – one at a time – to add your Name and Telephone Number on a sheet of paper; this will help track and trace should we receive notification that one of those attending has contracted the coronavirus;
5. Please then Take your Seat – you will be directed to fill in from the front at a vacant space where an Order of Service has already been placed. If you are arriving as a family or social bubble, please feel free to use the whole pew. Please do not sit anywhere else. Sadly, there will no other movement allowed around the church, for your own safety and that of others (just in case…);
6. The service will be led by me, centrally, from the front, at a safe distance – this will include prayers and sermon from the one place;
7. Bible readings will be led by me as officiant; no-one will currently be invited to read a lesson – this is to ensure the integrity of the leader’s space and also that readers do not pass closer to people than necessary;
8. In accordance with guidance, the service will be said only – i.e. No Hymns at present;
9. At the end of the service, people should Leave the Church from the Back (i.e. last in, first out) – this ensures no crossing in front of others nearby. Again, congregating at the back of the church or in the porch should be avoided;
10. Please do not leave your pew until those Behind You have Vacated Theirs and are at a safe distance in front of you on exiting;
11. You must also take your Order of Service home with you.
All other usual precautions will need to be taken – ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’; coughing into a tissue or crook of arm, etc. This also includes carefully assessing the feasibility of attending should you happen to be in a ‘vulnerable group’.
As regards Face Masks.
Current Government and Church of England guidance says that masks are not mandatory for church services (…), however I would suggest that it is Best Practice to be Encouraged; if you have one, please bring one along with you to use.
We all appreciate that it will seem a little strange to hold a service in this way, but being able to Be Together far outweighs any of the restrictions placed on us. It will be a Joy to See You.
The podcast will be continuing for those who are unable to attend and, in time, I will be looking at the potential for live-streaming our services (although acknowledging that internet and phone signal may well be too poor to make this possible).
David Smith, Priest-in-Charge
of the Raveningham & Waveney Benefices