On Monda19th July the Prime Minister said that the great majority of regulations will be dropped as we learn to live with Covid as an every day reality. However, he spoke about the need to remain ‘very cautious’ and to act responsibly in the days and weeks to come. With the rise in cases across the Tunbridge Wells / Tonbridge is recent days the Church Council is asking those wishing to attend church service sot be mindful of the following.
Due to the Government still running the Track and Trace scheme we would ask you please to continue to book into Sunday services using Churchsuite or telephone the Office during the week. This allows us to keep in one place the lists of those who attend, and should any outbreak occur, to help notify individuals and the NHS. However, it is worth saying that as we are increasing the seating capacity don’t feel that if you forgot to sign up in the week that there won’t be a place for you. There certainly will, so do just turn up.
This will continue to be an important aspect of entering the building, in the receiving of Holy Communion and of keeping both yourself and others safe.
As from Sunday 25th July we will increase the amount of chairs in the main part of the church, the nave. Currently they are laid out in fourteen pairs with a 2m gap between them. From this date we will lay the church out in rows of 4 or 5 chairs (10 rows in all) with a 2m gap between each row. Those who feel happy to sit next to people they do not currently live with may do so, or leave a chair between you, whilst sitting in the same row.
For those who don’t feel comfortable with this arrangement the north and south transepts, adjacent to the communion table will remain in pairs and at a 2m distance from each other.
This will continue with windows, and when appropriate doors, open throughout the building.
Church Council thought long and hard about this aspect of the deregulation, taking into considerations people’s freedom and the greater risk of the potential for spread in some aspects of our worship together. We therefore, are asking for support with the following:
Singing is returning, and in due course we hope that our music group and the choir will lead us. When leading the music those participating in singing will do so NOT wearing masks, but at a suitable distance from the rest of the congregation. However, as stated above, for the immediate future we would ask that when singing members of the congregation wear a mask.
The guidelines issued by both denominations are that Holy Communion may return. This causes us the greatest of concerns, because our practice is to use a ‘common cup’ with no alcoholic wine. In all Anglican churches the ‘common cup’ normally has alcoholic wine, which with the silver of the cup is said to add some protection from the passing on of germs. Though it has been very unclear as to whether this is true with Covid.
Many will know that in Methodist churches non alcoholic wine is distributed in small individual cups, taken from a tray. However, this practice in the Church of England goes against the church’s understanding, and is against canon law for the incumbent (Bryan) to administer in this way. At a recent Deanery Synod, Bryan proposed a motion that it is hoped will eventually make its way to General Synod to consider changing or amending this regulation for such circumstance as the current Covid pandemic.
We therefore are suggesting the following way forward.
DAY BY DAY
Will return from 1st August in printed form. However, if you would feel safer not having a copy, everything will be on the screen, or you might think of printing off your own copy.
Currently due to the lack of numbers attending church we are unable to set up a rota that wouldn’t make great demands on a few. We therefore will not be offering this until congregational numbers / volunteers increase.
SERVICE PATTERN AND TIMINGS
We will continue the same pattern of repeating the 9.00am service at 10.30am during August. With three Sundays that month being Holy Communion, two Morning Worship.
In September we will return to our first service being a said service of Holy Communion lasting between 30-45mins and this will remain at 9.00am. Our second service of the day will then start at 10.30am and will continue the usual pattern of: Holy Communion, Church Lite, Holy Communion, Morning Worship.
Sadly, this pandemic has not gone away and we need to continue to live and operate with the consequences of it. Our hope and prayer is that we continue to provide a safe environment in which all those who feel able to join us may do so. Your help and understanding of the challenges is important to us as we move forward as the Body of Christ.