Reopening churches, Online resources, and Open Gardens
It has been a while since my last letter. I am sorry for this but I have been waiting for the main news below before writing this.
The government has said that it is now permissible to reopen churches for private prayer from 13 June. There was little notice on this and we are now doing all we can to reopen our three churches as soon as possible after Monday 15 June. In each of our churches there will be every attempt to minimize the possibility of infection. We will be limiting the area that can be visited, with toilets and kitchen areas off limits and there will be hand sanitiser available. There will also be clear notices outside each church stating that it is open, with the times of opening, and how to stay safe in the church and how to be safe for others.
There is also the possibility that Sunday services will resume in early July. We are awaiting the government announcement on this but anticipate, if it happens, that there will be significant restrictions.
- Firstly, we anticipate there will be no singing (as singing may propel the airborne virus further).
- Second there will be a limitation on seating so that social distancing is maintained. Exactly how many we can admit will depend on the church, the distance between pews and so on. This is being worked out now by the church wardens and will be clearly marked to do all we can to ensure safety. There may even have to be a “booking in” system!
- Third, we recognise that many will feel it is inappropriate for them to attend for health reasons. For this reason we intend to have a live streaming of the service so all can still be involved. Because only Standon has internet connection at present it may be that the initial services will need to be from Standon. However Little Munden is discussing how to provide internet provision as soon as possible.
- The live streaming will only feature those leading, reading and praying from the front so that there will be no safeguarding issues.
- As we may be using St Mary’s quite a lot in the future I intend, from next week until we can return to congregational worship, to record services in St Catherine’s and All Saints for the next two or so Sundays. It is possible to record services at present in church as long as only one household is represented, so only I can be filmed in the church, although we may have other contributions edited in.
- At present we have no plans to resume the midweek services or the 8.00 on Sunday. Also, The Centre will be delayed until it can return in a similar way to before the lockdown. In other words we will begin with just the 10.30 and see how we go. Please pray for all these matters to do with reopening our churches. Whilst it is not necessary to have a building to pray to God (or even to meet together), for many it is a great comfort and a witness.
We are continuing with our online resources for prayer, worship and teaching. There is still daily Morning Prayer (and if you don’t want to watch it all, you are welcome to skip to the reading and teaching) and the daily “Resurrection Tales”. These are nearly finished and a new series will begin, “Jesus’ tales”, looking at Jesus’ parables. Meanwhile we continue with our Sunday worship at 10.30 (see above) and at 4.30 with the Centre. All of this is on YouTube or Facebook, the links are both below and on our website.
Standon and Puckeridge Open Gardens
As with many other events, the Open Gardens 2020 had to be cancelled. However, there is a virtual Open Gardens, which is also a fund-raiser. You can see the gardens from 13 June, just follow the link on www.standonopengardens.com. At a donation starting at just £5, it is well worth a look!
In the meantime, please stay safe, keep praying for our nation and neighbours, and pray also for me!
John Chitham, Rector