Updated 24 July 2021
21 Jul 21: Following the publication of the Church of England advice on the conduct of public worship following the easing of legal restrictions on Monday 19 July Revds Mary, Victor and I have discussed our local response at length against a backdrop of rapidly rising Covid infections. As Bishop Sarah, who chairs the Church of England’s Recovery Group, puts it: “this is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up and long covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore our approach needs to be cautious and careful. Taking personal responsibility means responsibility for our neighbour, not just for ourselves, and taking precautions to protect those more vulnerable than we consider ourselves to be.” As clergy we are also conscious of the need for integrity in our approach so in our conduct of public worship we are not asking people to do things we would not consider safe to do ourselves. So with that in mind, what can you expect to be different about in-person services and use of our church buildings from now onwards?
- there will no longer be any need to book for services, and we are deeply grateful to those who have taken bookings in our churches throughout the pandemic
- there will be no need to wait to be shown to an allocated seat in church, or to socially distance, although we would encourage people to practise social distancing if they can
- there will be no mandatory requirement to wear face coverings, but we would strongly advise people to do so, given that the government still ‘expects and recommends’ that we should wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings, particularly if we are in close proximity to others, and also recognising that not everyone has been double-vaccinated yet and had two weeks since the second vaccination and that many people are clinically vulnerable. We will also continue to provide hand sanitiser for people to use as they enter our buildings
- our church buildings can be open throughout the week if we choose
- refreshments can be provided, subject to good hygiene practices and appropriate risk assessments
However, after much prayer, thought and discussion we have decided that while the number of infections continues to rise sharply during the current wave we shall not be encouraging communal or choral singing in church as it does result in a significantly enhanced risk of infection due to the increased projection of aerosols containing the virus and we cannot legally enforce the wearing of face coverings while singing. We also do not feel it would be appropriate or wise to offer a common shared cup, so until there is a significant change in circumstances we shall continue to offer communion in the form of wafers only.
We do not take these decisions at all lightly, and do so with heavy hearts, but we cannot with any integrity or a clear conscience officiate at services where these activities go ahead when all three of us would not be comfortable about communal singing or sharing a common cup ourselves. In taking this decision we are not just thinking about our responsibility for our own health and that of our families but also taking into account the immense love, respect and duty of care we feel towards our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. We recognise that there will be some who disagree strongly with the position we are taking (and others who applaud it) but we feel in the absence of any clear mandatory guidance on these matters from the government or the Church of England we have to take a decision which we can be comfortable with and that continues to protect the health and wellbeing of our congregations while the risk of catching and/or passing on Covid remains so high. Please respect our decision even if you disagree with it, and we would value your prayers as we continue to minister amongst you in the coming weeks.
With love in Christ, 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; visit Services for Children for Early Birds on-line (YouTube/Facebook) services. We also offer an on-line bible study course – see further down this page. Please note these details may change.
Keeping in touch
A weekly newsletter, replacing the current Corsham Weekly Information Sheet, Church News and Lacock Pew News, will be published on a Saturday giving more information. This will be emailed to those who have signed up to receive Team News. You can be added to this distribution by emailing email@example.com.
Copies of this newsletter can be found at: TEAM NEWS. Latest issue 31 of 2021 dated 24 July 2021
OPENING OF CHURCHES FOR PRIVATE PRAYER
Neston church will be open for individual private prayer on Sundays 11am to 1pm and Wednesdays 2pm to 4pm.
Please note that only parts of the church may be accessible, and you will be requested to use hand sanitiser on entry and exit. Social distancing measures apply, and it is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering (visors alone are regrettably not considered a face covering unless worn with a mask) in places of worship and church halls, unless a relevant exemption applies. We regret we are also unable to provide Bibles, prayer books etc. Whilst you are welcome to meet friends in the churchyard (within current social distancing rules) please do not arrange to meet anyone outside your household bubble inside a church.
On-Line Bible study
Bible study on Encountering the God who speaks: Wednesday morning Bible studies (11.00 a.m.) exploring the way God spoke to eight individuals (seven from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament). If you have not previously attended please contact Revd Andrew (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an invitation to the meetings, which will initially be on Zoom but may become in-person later on.
A further on-line (via Zoom) bible study looking at one of the readings for the following Sunday – mostly on a Tuesday, but also occasional Mondays – will be run by Revd Mary at 8pm on each date. Remaining dates are: Tuesdays 22 and 29 June, 6,13 and 20 Jul. Please email Revd Mary – email@example.com for more details and a zoom link.
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.