United Benefice of Altham and Clayton-le-Moors
Vicar: Revd Toby Webber, The Vicarage, Church St, Clayton-le-Moors
(01254) 384321 email@example.com
(NB – Face masks now have to be worn in church)
I hope that you are keeping well. Over the six weeks or so since my last letter I have continued to see people out and about – including people I hadn’t previously seen since lockdown and I’ve continued to see familiar names commenting on screen through the Facebook services. So a special hello to those I haven’t yet seen.
These last weeks have, of course, seen a gradual easing of the lockdown, and more life has returned to our streets and parks. Even non-essential shops are open again. And from 4th July many of the restrictions will cease. We will be even more dependent on people exercising common sense and self-control, for the sake of the common good.
One element of the change is that – for the first time since 15 March – we can have Sunday worship in church.
Both our churches will, God willing, open for worship from Sunday 5th July. There will initially be only one service in each church per week – Altham at 9:30pm and All Saints’ at 11am. As you have probably heard, there will be no singing permitted. There will be Holy Communion, which will be received standing and in one kind (only the consecrated bread will be received).
The fact that church is open for worship should not make anyone feel obliged to come at this stage. Those who are shielding should NOT attend worship before the start of August at the very earliest. Others 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.
We are taking the steps necessary to make it as safe as practical for people who attend. Please do your bit by using the hand sanitiser when entering and leaving the building, by keeping your distance from others and by following the instructions of the wardens/sidespeople. Pews which are not to be used are clearly marked.
We will need to record the name and contact information of those who attend in case this needs to be supplied to contact tracers. This will be kept securely and destroyed after three weeks.
If you bring children with you, they will need to remain in the pew with you. Do bring your own quiet toys/books/colouring as the bags, toys, etc have all been tidied away.
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. For All Saints’ weekly envelope givers the new boxes of envelopes will be available for you to collect. However, the simplest and safest method of giving is to do so direct from your bank. If you haven’t done so yet, perhaps now is the time to switch to giving by standing order? We can easily let you have the details.
Churches will open from 15 minutes before the advertised service time. 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!
We will stream the 11am service from All Saints’ Church for people not attending to watch at home, either live or on catch up. Other times of worship will continue as at present to be offered via Facebook – 10:45am short family worship on Sunday mornings, 10am Morning Prayer on Wednesday and Friday mornings, 6:30pm Friday Praise and 9:30pm Night Prayer (except Friday). The pattern of worship will be reviewed when we reach the school summer holidays.
Before too long I hope that it will be possible to begin services on Wednesday mornings at All Saints. Funerals are possible in church and we are planning on baptisms from September, all with restrictions and social distancing. Weddings are also possible and we will have one in August which will be lovely.
For those of us who can, returning to the church building will be a privilege. It will in particular be a joy to celebrate Holy Communion together again and I pray that we will all approach that gift with eager expectation after so long a fast from the Eucharist. 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.
Can I include a reminder for those who aren’t on-line that anyone can access a free Church of England resource called ’Daily Hope’ by ringing 0800 804 8044? There is a choice of listening, from hymns to a full service and the Mothers’ Union midday prayer.
With my love, prayers and best wishes,