A letter from Rev Rebecca regarding services returning to church

calendar_todayWed 8th July - 3:33pm
person_outlineRebecca Roberts

Dear Friends

I hope that you are keeping well.  Thank you for your patience and support over the last few months.  It has been wonderful to see many of you engage in our Facebook Live services, to see some of you in the community and to chat to some of you on the phone.  If I haven’t seen or chatted to you, a special hello to you!

Over the last few weeks there has been a gradual easing of lockdown.  However, we are reminded that we must still be alert and still take great care in our actions.  Churches are now able to open for worship services to take place inside the building.  With the PCC, I have been working hard to find a way that we can reopen The Ascension for services in a way that is as safe as it possibly can be and follows all the guidance we have received.

I am therefore pleased to tell you that from Sunday 2nd August there will be services each Sunday at 11am inside The Ascension.  (For the remainder of July services will continue to be streamed on Facebook Live.)  You are welcome to attend this service in person, or to watch it on Facebook Live.  Initially, we will only hold a service on Sundays, however we will review Wednesday services in September.

Changing the way we do things has become normal in so many aspects of our lives, and this will be the case for our services in church too.  There will be no singing (although there will be music to listen to), and Holy Communion will be received standing and in one kind (only the consecrated bread will be received).  We will also not be able to give out service books and notice sheets; therefore, the words of the service will be on the screen, and notice sheets will continue to be emailed out.  

The fact that church is open for worship should not make anyone feel obliged to come at this stage.  Those who have been shielding, or who are or live with those at increased risk should they contract COVID-19 should think carefully about whether or not it is right for them to come at this stage.  There will be a device in church to live stream and record the service to Facebook for those who cannot or prefer not to attend in person at this time.  We can also arrange to send you an audio CD recording of the service if you do not have online access.

We are taking the steps necessary to make it as safe as possible for people who attend.  You will need to use hand sanitiser when you enter and leave the building, and follow instructions from Churchwardens and stewards.  For those who like to sit in the same place each week, to maximise our use of space, which will be limited due to maintaining a two meter distance, it is likely you may need to sit in a pew that is different to where you may normally sit.

Also on entering the building we will need to record your name and contact details, to aide contract tracers should anyone from church come down with coronavirus symptoms.  These details will be stored securely and destroyed after three weeks.

A collection will not be taken during the service, but there will be a plate available if you wish to place anything on it as you enter or leave church.  The contactless machine will also be available for donations by card.  The easiest and safest way to give to our church is through The Parish Giving Scheme, please let us know if you would like more details about how to do this.

You are most welcome to bring children with you, they will need to remain in the pew with you.  A colouring and activity sheet will be available for all children, but these must be taken home with you, and you should bring your own colouring pencils or pens.  For now, we are unable to have our monthly Growing Together service.  We are reviewing this regularly and hope to bring it back as soon as possible, therefore every Sunday service will follow a similar Holy Communion format.

If you have a child for whom you will be applying for a reception class place to start in September 2021, you should note that the admissions policies for Church of England primary schools, including Woolston C of E Primary School, have been amended to reflect the temporary closure of church buildings.  The full amended admissions policy is available on the school website.  In practice the amended policy means the admissions committee of Woolston C of E Primary School will expect evidence of attendance at church for the full months’ church has been open during 2020 (this means at least one signature on your form for each of the months of January, February, and August to December).  If this situation applies to your family you are strongly encouraged to view the amended admissions policy on the school website.

The church building will open from 15 minutes before the advertised service time (e.g. 10.45am).  Only those who are assisting with stewarding at that service may arrive earlier.  Once the service is over you will be asked to leave – starting with those nearest the exit.  There will be no refreshments or fellowship time after the service.  People must not congregate in groups for conversation, particularly indoors.

I anticipate that there will be sufficient space for those who wish to attend to do so safely.  Should there be a situation where the church has no more safe seating please don’t be offended if you are told that unfortunately you can’t come in on this occasion.  We’ll make sure you get priority seating next time!

For those of us who can, returning to the church building will be a privilege.  It will be a joy to celebrate Holy Communion together again and I pray that we will all approach that gift with eager expectation. Those in church will hold in their thoughts those who are worshipping at home.  May the spiritual unity which has helped us keep together through these lockdown months persist as we go forward.

With my continued love and prayers.

Rev Rebecca Roberts
Pioneer Team Vicar