Updated guidance from July 19th 2021
From July 19th much of what had previously been considered mandatory will become a matter of personal choice, although it is important that we move forward with caution and courtesy for the foreseeable future. The legal responsibility for making decisions about how to proceed lies with me, as the incumbent. This includes acts of worship, events run by the PCC or church community, and to decisions on whether to hire out spaces or allow other events to proceed. However, what follows has been agreed with the Church Wardens, shared with the clergy who assist at St George’s, and will be discussed by the PCC at our meeting on Wednesday 21st July. For this reason, some of the measures that will be relaxed, such as the possibility of receiving communion in both kinds, and singing in church, will apply from Sunday 25th July, and not before (with the exception of the World Day of Prayer service on Friday 23rd July, where singing will be allowed).
What follows will be subject to a thorough revision of our risk assessment.
The context at St George’s
St George’s is a large, spacious church which can be kept well ventilated. At present two of the large windows are opened well in advance of public worship, as are the main doors to the church. Windows are left open throughout the day to ensure that the building is kept well ventilated for private prayer. From Monday the 19th July the number of windows to be left open for public worship will be increased to four.
The majority of the regular congregation have been double vaccinated. This ensures a high level of protection, whilst it is recognised that it does not offer 100% immunity or possibility of transmission.
In what follows we are mindful of the context outlined above.
From Monday 19th July
- As is currently the case, please do not come to church if you feel unwell, even if the symptoms are not specifically Covid related. It is important that we are always mindful of the need to protect each other. If you are unwell please let us know.
- It will no longer be necessary to book to come to a service. For those who wish to, you may continue to scan the QR code at the entrance to the church, using the NHS Covid- 19 App on your mobile phone, but this is not mandatory.
- Whilst hand sanitising is not mandatory, it is strongly advised. For this reason the sanitising stations will remain in place.
- You are not obliged to wear a face covering. Whilst we will be in an enclosed space, it is a large space that is well ventilated. However, there will be some who wish to continue to wear a face covering. For my part I will do so when I am in close proximity to others, for example when administering Holy Communion. We all need to do what we feel is appropriate, whilst exercising caution and courtesy.
- Social distancing is no longer a legal requirement. However, there may be some people who feel uncomfortable at being in close proximity to others at this time. To mitigate for this there will be printed cards available at the entrance to the church for people to place next to them where they are seated, asking others to kindly leave a space. We will also designate an area of the church for people who wish to remain socially distant. This may mean that members of the congregation might not be able to sit in their ‘usual place’. The important thing is that we all exercise courtesy during these difficult times.
- There is no longer the need to sit in pews either with or without a ‘X’, except for at the 8AM Sunday Eucharist (see below).
- We will not physically share the peace with others, continuing with the practice that we have been accustomed to during the pandemic.
- Until Sunday 25th July Communion will continue to be in one kind only, given to the congregation in their place.
- When leaving Church please leave your books on the pews and leave promptly. If you wish to chat, please wait until you are outside in the fresh air.
- For the time being, to ensure we remain in a well-ventilated space, Morning and Evening Prayer will be prayed in the main body of the church as has been the current practice. This will be kept under constant review and in due course we will return to the Lady Chapel.
From Sunday 25th July
In addition to the above.
- The 8AM congregation are requested to sit in the pews designated with a ‘X’. This is solely to ensure that they can be cleaned before the 10AM congregation arrive.
- Singing is now allowed. For the time being this will entail the choir and congregation singing the hymns and the responses to the prayer at tbe offertory, with the choir singing the Mass setting. In time it is hoped that we will learn some new Mass settings, which will allow more variety in our worship, but this will not be until after summer.
- Communion is now allowed in both kinds. However, it is understandable that some may only wish to continue to receive in one kind only. This is a matter of personal choice. Intinction (dipping the host in the wine) is expressly forbidden as it poses a potential risk to others should fingers or hands come into contact with the consecrated wine.
- As before the pandemic, please come to the altar rail, after the servers and choir have received communion, but please leave a space between yourself and the person next to you.
Refreshments after the Eucharist on a Wednesday and Sunday, and on a Friday Morning
- It is our intention to begin offering refreshments after the Wednesday and Sunday Eucharist, and to begin the Friday Coffee morning as soon as possible. We hope to be able to offer refreshments for the first time after the Mass on Sunday 25th July, subject to the outcome of a risk assessment.
From Monday 19th we will see the life of our worshipping community return much more to normality. However, we need to continue to be mindful that the Covid virus is still present and we need to take personal responsibility to mitigate any potential risk by taking care of ourselves and others.
It is inevitable that everything outlined above will need to be kept under constant review.
With assurance of continued prayers