This week hasn’t been as I imagined it! I have long looked forward to welcoming people back into the Church for worship and I naively imagined it would be a huge celebration where everyone came back as one with no more restrictions. I was, not for the first time, wrong.
We are looking forward to being able to welcome folks back to our Church for services of whole life worship from this Sunday – 25th July. But we are very aware that we are in different places and feeling different things about the re-opening. Some of us are desperate to be together and have no fears, some of us are keen to be together yet also feel some anxiety, others of us feel more than some anxiety and are not sure we will be able to come back to Church just yet, whilst a few of us feel sure we do not think we can return.
As a Church family we want to support one another in love and be understanding of different perspectives. Throughout the pandemic we have believed it has been right to follow the advice and instructions given to the government by the scientific advisors our nation employs. This continues to be our policy and so this coming Sunday will see the re-opening of Church services without significant restrictions on singing. In doing this we are trying to grapple with the advice of “no restrictions” but “be cautious and careful”. This is not easy to interpret!
We want people who want to, to be able to come together to sing, worship and learn in a corporate experience and we want to do all we can to make people feel safe. Equally, we want nobody to feel under compulsion to come, especially as we need to remind people we cannot make the environment 100% safe.
It would appear that many of us are less at risk from life threatening illness, but more at risk of needing to isolate inconveniently. This does not mean that the risks to life have completely gone away and so everyone must manage their own health risks wisely.
We would love to see you if you would like to come but ask in kindness to everyone else that each of us seeks to do the following:
- Does not come if feeling unwell
- Wears a mask if an adult or secondary school aged young person
- Uses hand sanitizer on entry
- Maintains social distancing from those not in your bubble. We will invite you to pick up a couple of paper red crosses when you enter the Church and place these on the seats next to your bubble to maintain social distancing
- Takes a lateral flow test before coming if you have access to these
We will continue to regularly clean fixtures and fittings, and ensure the room is well ventilated.
Over time as the threat of the virus recedes, we will relax these requests and introduce refreshments at all our services.
We will be able to pick up again the things we have really missed as well as continue some of the things we have discovered through the pandemic. We think there will be something for everyone, but understandably it has not been possible to do everything for everyone at the time everyone wants it!
I intend to also write to you again in a few weeks with details of our plans for the Autumn.
In the meantime for the next few weeks we plan to continue the livestream at 8.30 online and in the building, the only change being that booking in is no longer required and we will do a little singing. This online “Call to Prayer” will remain visible on the website and YouTube for folks to watch throughout the day and into the week. Please do continue to engage with this.
At 10.30am we shall meet with the musicians we have so enjoyed online as well as having teaching from myself and others and some of the other elements of worship we have developed in the last 18 months.
This teaching will be repeated at 6.30pm with a different band and the added element of someone putting texted in questions to the speaker after the sermon.
To aid with social distancing we ask you to come to only one of the 10.30am or 6.30pm services. These 10.30 and 6.30 services will not be available online but we will continue to provide plenty of online devotional resources. Most Sunday teachings, including question and answers will be also available as a podcast or YouTube video later in the week. In addition to this I will try to finish John as an online only teaching resource.
We will be providing Light Years and Fusion for children and early teens for 3 out of 4 weeks at the 10.30 services, but the 8th of August, there will be an all-age service which we are calling All Together. This will continue every 4 weeks thereafter. This week, there will be Light Years and Fusion. In the Church lounge there are toys for babies and very young children alongside an overflow TV screen showing the service. Most Sundays at 10.30 we hope to provide helpers who can take care of your children allowing where possible for their parents to go back into the service. We hope older teenagers and Ignite will enjoy coming to the evening service. Grow Together will also continue every four weeks on a Sunday afternoon.
Finally let me say that all these plans are subject to change either from further government advice, local government advice or from there being a sudden increase in volunteers or helpers needing to isolate.
If you feel there is an area of Sunday life that you could support and serve in, please let us know. We need singers, musicians, children’s helpers, welcomers, stewards, car park stewards, and people willing to pray with others so if any of these are things you can do, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
We have called the Church to pray particularly this Friday, please do pray that we will not only be safe, but that we will be able to reach out again with the love of Jesus. You can sign up for a half hour slot and receive some resources on this link https://scbc.churchsuite.co.uk/events/s44xlggr
These last few months have been difficult in so many ways for so many people. And yet I have been humbled and greatly encouraged by the incredible efforts so many people have made to keep the Church reaching out and sharing the love of Jesus.
Thank you to those who have taken the time to give to the food bank, participate in livestreams, contact people, sent words of encouragement, prayed for others, and given financially. We have felt strengthened by your partnership.
Thank you for all your patience, and may I ask for a bit more, as doubtless we will get things wrong, learn as we go along and change what we need to.
I look forward to seeing you at the door sometime soon.
Yours in Christ,