Church re-opening

Rev Rob Grinsell

Dear church family,

Please find below a time-line for the return and reopening of the church. Please note there is no obligation on your part to return to the church and you must do so only when you feel ready to and are confident it suits your health circumstances. On-line services will continue to run alongside the reopening to enable everyone to continue to receive church services at home if they wish to.

It is very important that those of you for whom it is not the right time to return to church, do not feel left behind when the church reopens. Our on-line services and Thursday evening ‘Face book live’ sessions will continue to offer teaching and ministry. We encourage people if they are able, to continue to meet in gardens and walk with each other to have fellowship. We will continue with our zoom prayer meetings on Wednesday evening with updates and prayer points so everyone can feel they can participate in the ministry of the church.

In addition to this, we are still carrying forward the vision of small group ministry proposed at the vision day in Feb this year. In more normal times, we are looking to develop a small group programme where people can be affirmed and encouraged as well as explore and develop their own God-given gifts and abilities. (More information on this will follow).

Church re-opening

We, (the Parochial Church Council), are working towards the reopening of the church at the beginning of September and want to outline how we think it could work.

One big change is that it will not be possible to have the existing two services on a Sunday morning and have the church ready and clean for the second service, so we are proposing alternating the services with the 11am service running on weeks 1 and 3 and the traditional communion service running on weeks 2 and 4 at the same time of 11am.

Firstly, please be aware that when we return to church we will have to follow the latest guidelines (and these may change before or during September). The key ones which affect places of worship are:

  • Risk assessment – this is an ongoing process as regulations change
  • Social distancing – maintaining 2m where possible (between households) with signage to encourage this practice
  • Face coverings (unless in one of the exempt groups)
  • Cleaning – in between services and of toilets after usage
  • Contact tracing – recording who has attended and keeping this data for 21 days
  • Hand sanitiser available and usage encouraged
  • Limited numbers with possible booking in advance
  • Singing is not allowed
  • The use of recorded music is encouraged rather than live music

We will keep to the strict procedures both from the government and the Church of England to ensure the church is as safe as possible. However, we cannot guarantee people’s safety. People must understand that they come to the church at their own risk.

What will it look like for us?

You will need to book a seat. However to ensure that the church community grows we may see if committed members would be prepared to give up their seat for any visitors who may come without booking. Further information will be given to you nearer the time concerning booking arrangements. 

The chairs have been laid out in rows and available seats will be designated. These will generally be alternate rows and alternate seats but households can sit together. We estimate that we can accommodate around 30 individuals (if by themselves) but the number is variable depending on households (couples, families, etc).

Your contact details will be taken when you enter the building and you will be shown where to sit.

The time line

We are currently proposing that for the first two weeks of September the church time is from 11-12 and that this is principally a time of prayer with communion.

  • Sunday 6th September 11am – Church re-opens for prayer and communion only
  • Sunday 13th September 11am – Church open for prayer and communion only

We then have our first full services as seperate services:

  • Sunday 20th September 11am – 1st full service – family service
  • Sunday 27th September 11am – 2nd full services – traditional communion

We then propose to move to a regular pattern with alternated services.

  • Sunday 4th October 11am – Family service
  • Sunday 11th October 11am – Traditional communion
  • Sunday 18th October 11am – Family service
  • Sunday 25th October 11am – Traditional communion
  • etc.

What will the services be like?

One of the challenges of coming back to church with the current restrictions, is how to prevent the experience from being negative.  In both our services we will be looking to encounter the Holy Spirit. Although we cannot sing, we will seek to creatively deepen our experience of the Lord, to know the touch of God and hear His voice during these times together.

Traditional Communion service. The format will be very similar with recorded hymns as before (but no singing unfortunately), the communion service (without books and we will work out how best to provide responses) and an altered communion in line with the current Church of England guidelines. At present this only involves the offering of the bread to participants and cannot include the Peace. There will of course be led-prayers and the sermon as before.

Family service – the service will be an hour (at least to start with) and will include the usual mix of songs as individual songs or sets but these will all be YouTube versions. Although singing is not allowed, there is no reason why worship cannot include standing and raising of arms but no moving around. We cannot have out-loud praying from seats but can have times of silent prayer where we pray ‘together’ on a particular subject/person. There will be a sermon. Different people can participate but will have to follow the protocols for leading.

Children & youth – there will be a table-top activity available for children at the family service (but remember alternate weeks). These will be done at their seats. We will also look to make more of the service an all-age service.
There will be no separate Lighthouse Kids at the church but this will continue weekly via zoom.

Tea & Coffee – unfortunately this cannot be accommodated within the current guidelines and any socialising before or afterwards should follow social distancing guidelines.

Thank you so much for kind support.  We go forward trusting in Him and knowing that He goes ahead of us and leads us on. (Jn. 10.1-4).

Every blessing in Jesus