Updated 18 Sep 2021
The latest Team newsletter is issue 39 of 2021 (dated 19 Sep 21) and can be found at: TEAM NEWS.
Great Big Green Week 18-26 September
Public meeting at Neston Church, Thursday 23rd September at 7 p.m. Guest speaker Chris Crookall Fallon, Cotswold District Council’s Climate Change Action Officer. Please phone Charles Todd by Tuesday 21st on 07866 395145 if you would like to attend.
For details of other events planned this week by Neston church including a COP26 Safari round the village and a “Butterfly Wall” at the church, see:
Corsham Harvest Family Service, 26th September: Nigel and the Young Church Bubble will be conducting the Service with music, screen clips and Harvest Joy. All welcome. Gifts of tinned and dried food (pasta etc) will be donated to the Corsham Churches Food Bank.
Gastard Harvest Service is on Sunday 26th September at 6pm. All are welcome. We shall be collecting donations for the Corsham Food Bank so please bring your donations of tins and dry food (pasta, rice etc) to the service or leave at the church on Saturday morning so they can be incorporated in the church decorations. The service will be followed by a small Harvest Supper in the church. Each supper will be individually prepared and plated in a Covid secure way. If you would like to join us please book your place with Sandy Fletcher 01249 715006 or by email email@example.com so that she can prepare the plates in advance. To cover costs we are asking for a donation of £5 or more for each supper booked. You can make your donation through the JustGiving page: Harvest Celebration 2021 Sunday 26th September – JustGiving or else pay Sandy direct. If you are unable to join us for supper, or do not yet feel comfortable to join in this type of social event after covid, then please consider donating the cost you would usually spend on the supper directly to church funds; thank you.
1 Sep 21: Review of current Covid procedures for in-person services during September
Revds Andrew, Mary and Victor met this morning (1 Sep) to review the current Covid procedures for worship in our churches against a backdrop of rising infections (routinely over 30,000 per day after an initial dip in mid-July, and with cases in Wiltshire rising and above the national average). We are also aware that September will be a crucial moment as schools are back and people return to work, which has already resulted in a sharp rise in cases in Scotland. There is also growing evidence that immunity through vaccination is waning, although that can potentially be countered by booster jabs. Infectious disease modellers think that it will probably be the end of September before we can say with any certainty that as a nation we have reached an equilibrium whereby the levels of immunity in the population can keep the virus at bay.
So with all that background in mind we feel that we should continue with our current procedures for in-person services during September and review our position again towards the end of the month, with a dramatic decline in infections to below average levels in Wiltshire being one of the key indicators that a change in approach may be required.
While the number of infections continues to rise we shall still 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 (unlike in Wales, for example, where face coverings are still legally required in church). We do really appreciate how much people miss singing in church, but we would rather have a clear and consistent policy of not singing across all our services in church (including baptisms, weddings and funerals often attended by those who are less familiar with our existing procedures) rather than be in the uncomfortable pastoral position of feeling we have to ask people not to sing if they are not wearing masks when we don’t have any legal (government or Church of England) basis for doing so.
We also still do not feel it would be appropriate or wise to offer a common shared cup, so we shall continue to offer communion in the form of wafers only. So the following procedures for attending in-person services will continue to apply during September:
- we would encourage people to respect other people’s social distancing needs and practise social distancing if they can. In practice most church attendees have been leaving at least one pew empty between themselves and others where possible
- there is 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 it is still the case that not everyone has been double-vaccinated yet and had two weeks since the second vaccination, that those who have been double-vaccinated can pass on the virus, 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
- the provision of refreshments can be considered, subject to good hygiene practices and appropriate risk assessments
- communion will continue to be in the form of wafers only
- there will be no change, for the time being, to the policy of not having communal or choral singing during any Sunday services or baptisms, weddings and funerals
Once again in taking this position 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 would very much value your prayers as we and our fellow ministers 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.
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 – resuming shortly
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.