Updated 16 Oct 2021
The latest Team newsletter is issue 43 of 2021 (dated 17 Oct 21) and can be found at: TEAM NEWS.
8 Oct 21: Review of current Covid procedures for in-person services
Review of Covid restrictions on worship in church
Revds Andrew, Mary and Victor met earlier this week to review the existing restrictions on worship in church and below is a summary of our conclusions:
- We are now willing to allow singing behind face coverings in church in order to minimise the greatly enhanced risk of aerosol transmission to others associated with singing without face coverings
- We are also willing to allow the return of the choirs in Corsham and Lacock to sing behind face coverings, but we will be asking them to sing from the Lady Chapel at Lacock and the Fuller Chapel in Corsham
- Communion will continue to be shared in the form of wafers only
- The provision of refreshments, which has restarted in some of our churches with Covid precautions in place, will also continue
As before we shall review this policy towards the end of the month and communicate any changes accordingly. These decisions were made with the following background and context very much in mind:
- The numbers of Covid cases in Wiltshire, having briefly dipped below the national average, are now above average and were until recently rising by 25% each week, with a slight reduction in the increase in the past week
- The number of pupils absent from England’s state schools rose by two-thirds to 204,000 in the fortnight to Thursday 30 September, with 2.5% of pupils out of school for Covid-related reasons on this day. Some local schools have re-introduced face coverings as a result of the number of Covid cases they are seeing
- Hospitals are under increasing pressure, although lengths of stays due to Covid are shorter because more people are double-vaccinated and protected against severe infection. However, we are made aware on a weekly basis of positive cases locally, almost all of them to people who have been double-vaccinated and some of which are very serious
- It is still the case that those who are double-vaccinated can carry and pass on the infection, and one of the most effective ways of avoiding this is to wear a face covering, which according to a number of laboratory tests and multiple studies blocks up to 80% of aerosol droplets from escaping into the air. Our experience is that many people are now choosing not to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces despite the obvious benefits of doing so. The need to provide as much ventilation as possible is also increasingly being ignored as the weather gets colder, but again this is crucial in combatting the virus
- On a more positive note there is the prospect of booster jabs and vaccination of 12 to 15 years on the horizon which will hopefully help to keep the daily case levels at a manageable although still high level.
We are very aware as always that these changes won’t go far enough for some and will be regarded as going too far by others but we feel they acknowledge a desire for communal singing in church to return while protecting and respecting the health and wellbeing of others. They are also conditional on people being willing to wear face coverings to sing and on doors remaining open throughout services to aid ventilation, so PCCs may need to consider whether they wish to provide heating under those circumstances or not, and those intending to attend church will need to bear the temperature in mind. For those who would feel less vulnerable and warmer attending a service from home we are continuing to offer the option of monthly Zoom services on Sunday 17 October and Sunday 21 November.
None of us find making these decisions easy, and we would love to be able to remove all restrictions on worship immediately and focus solely on leading worship without the need to bear Covid restrictions in mind, However, we cannot in all conscience do that at the moment, and we would still urge and warmly invite you to support worship in church if you can despite the sacrifices we are all having to make in order to keep each other safe and keep on top of the virus during the winter months. We look forward to seeing you in church or online over the coming weeks and months and to welcoming back those of you who have been unable to attend so far during the pandemic.
With every blessing in Christ from Andrew, Mary and Victor
Please see our Services page for the latest details of public worship services within the Team and Zoom on-line services. We also offer an on-line bible study course – see further down this page. Please note these details may change.
On-Line Bible study
The Wednesday morning sessions will be resuming on 15th September at 11 a.m. for five sessions of an hour, running weekly (except for 22nd September), until 20th October. We will be studying the down-to-earth book of James, the theme being ‘What’s love got to do with it?’. The aim will be to help us demonstrate God’s love practically in our everyday lives despite the challenges we face, which is particularly relevant while the pandemic continues. If you would like a Zoom invitation or simply wish to know more, please contact Revd Andrew Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The evening Bible study sessions will resume on Tuesday 7th September at 8 p.m. with subsequent dates normally being Monday or Tuesday. Each session will be standalone, so you are welcome to attend as many or as few as you wish. Please contact Revd Mary at email@example.com for the zoom link and to find out which passage will be studied.
A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.