Dear Brothers and Sisters.
We have great news this week! Because the programme for coming out of lock-down has been accelerated by the Government, we are allowed to restart services on the 5th July.
We thank God that this is possible and that for most of us the period of isolation as believers is at last coming to an end! However, restarting in three weeks means lots of work, given the logistical challenges that have to be overcome and the amount of planning involved.
Those of you who are on the church mailing list will have received an email setting out in detail our latest proposals of how we will manage services under the ‘new normal’, and the reasoning behind it. Summarising it all here, let me just say that we have carried out a more careful analysis of capacity in the hall and other smaller rooms in the building and we have also examined in detail the household size and age composition of the congregation.
Based on this analysis, we calculate that we can accommodate everyone, every Sunday, whilst still complying with the two metres social distancing rule between households – provided we hold two services and use other rooms in the premises as overflow.
So this is what we are proposing:
- The first service would be at 10.30 and would be for all households EXCEPT those with children of Sunday School age or below and those attending BASE youth group;
- The second service would be at 12.00 and would be for those families WITH children of Sunday School age or below and those attending BASE youth group.
But please note that a key requirement of this approach is that people do not show up to the wrong service. We simply cannot accommodate people who should be there at 10.30 arriving for 12.00 (or vice versa), with the exception of unannounced visitors and people who rely on public transport which is not available for the earlier time.
Although this solution has management challenges, not the least of which are hygiene protocols, it has the huge advantage that it does not require pre-booking or people to remember which week they should be coming. It also means that if social distancing rules are relaxed, we do not have to switch systems away from a rota, which might have become redundant at that point. Finally, we may discover that there is a reluctance on the part of some to return immediately. This approach means that we don’t start a rota system only to discover it is unnecessary.
The Leadership are working hard to make this happen is terms of the design and content of the services, handling of seating and movement, health and safety and technical facilities to cater for the overflow rooms and live broadcast to those still cocooning at home.
We will be in touch with those among you who we identify as being able to help in these tasks. Please be prepared to work together with us to make our long awaited return go smoothly and provide the opportunity to worship together as a church in a way that will bring glory to Christ and encouragement to each other. And continue in prayer!
We will give you increasing details as we approach July 5th. In the meantime, some of you have suggested that at this time a key priority should be gathering in small groups to pray and worship and encourage each other. We agree with this and encourage you to gather together in houses, in groups of six or less, and observing social distancing, at times that are convenient to you, for this purpose.
Jon (for the church officers)