Statement about the reopening of church buildings
Government guidance was issued today (29 June 2020) to accompany the announcement made by Downing Street on 23 June, that churches may reopen for public services and small weddings from Saturday 4 July.
Following this guidance, the London College of Bishops have made clear that the date of 4 July is a "may" and not a "must", and church services will only resume when it is deemed safe to do so by local church leadership, based on the capability for social distancing and hygiene measures to be implemented, and the particularities of specific church buildings. There are several elements of a church service which are not permitted under the current guidance.
Clearly there is much to be thankful for in what this announcement signifies, and at St Mary's and St Luke's we look forward to the time we can gather together in our buildings to worship. At the same time, this period of lockdown has enabled certain people to connect with and engage in worship with us in ways they had previously been prevented from doing. As we prepare to gather physically again, we must be mindful of those who will, for their own health or the sake of others, continue to shield, and we do not want to leave anyone behind. Everyone's safety and health is paramount.
We are taking time to consult the detailed guidance, meet (virtually) as trustees, garner wider opinion and weigh up our options. This is likely to take longer than a few days, and while we will work as quickly as we can, we will not be opening either church building for public worship this Sunday (5 July 2020). St Mary's is open for individual private prayer on Wednesday 12-2pm and Saturday 2-4pm this week. An online service (St Mary's at Home) will go out on YouTube at 10am on Sunday, which anyone can view. Our Junior Church will have a Zoom session (the penultimate before taking a break for the summer) at 10.45am. Everyone is welcome to join the Post Service Cuppa on Zoom at 11.30am.
We will update the What's On page of our website with details of public services in our church buildings as soon as we have decided what is happening. Until then, we appreciate your prayers and your patience, and welcome your ideas and suggestions, based on the guidance. Please email me to share your views.
Revd Elis Matthews