We are very pleased to be able to open for worship on some Sundays in July and August.
However, obviously our priority is to keep everyone as safe as possible, so we’re going to start by opening for worship in church only in alternate weeks - we're planning to be in church for services at our usual time of 10am on Sundays 12th and 19th July, and Sundays 9th and 16th August.
Each of you will need to decide for yourself whether you feel safe coming back to worship in church at the moment, given the measures we are taking. We are doing what we can, but inevitably there are more risks in coming to church than there would be if you stayed at home.
Those of you who are vulnerable (in other words, if you have diabetes, a chronic lung condition, or any other relevant underlying condition; or if you are over the age of 70 even if you are otherwise healthy) or extremely vulnerable (in which case you will have received a letter from the Government advising on the safety measures you should take) will need in particular to weigh up whether returning to worship in church is right for you yet.
If you do choose attend church, please wear a mask or other face covering. We recognise that there are differing opinions on the medical efficacy of masks, but most experts agree that wearing them offers a modest protection to others. It also reminds us all that we need to keep to the other safety measures that we may not be used to in church.
We will not for the moment be offering Holy Communion in any of our services. We do not feel at this stage that we can offer the Sacrament safely, particularly given how many of our congregation are vulnerable. We quite understand that this will be very disappointing to many of you. If you wish to participate in the services of Holy Communion that are being offered in other churches locally, I would be very happy to put you in touch with them, please just ask me for details, and remember that you may need to let them know in advance that you are intending to attend.
Other information to bear in mind:
- We will of course have to keep to social distancing, and we will keep to 2m distance since that's deemed to be safer than the new 1m+ that is being used in restaurants etc;
- those leading the service and supervising access to the church will be wearing PPE;
- we will invite you to come in through the car park door only, one at a time, so please wait outside in a socially distanced queue until you are invited to come in, and allow time for that processing to take place;
- we will have to log contact details for everyone as they arrive, to facilitate track and trace;
- we will be asking everyone who arrives whether they're experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and if they are they will be asked to return home. If you are experiencing any one of the key symptoms (a continuous cough, a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell) even if it’s mild, please do stay at home, and don’t risk spreading the virus.
- we will ask everyone to wear face coverings;
- everyone will have to use hand sanitiser on arriving and leaving the building;
- access to the Church will be through the vestry, and then on a one-way route around the church. You will only be able to sit in certain pews, and these may very well not be your “usual” place;
- we will not be taking a collection during the service, so if you do wish to make a donation (and we hope you will), please be ready to leave it in the plate in the vestry as you arrive in church;
- in order to maintain a safe level of ventilation, all the doors and windows will be open throughout the service. This may very well mean that you are sitting in a draught, and we will not be able to accommodate any requests to close doors or windows during the service, so please do dress accordingly;
- we will not be sharing Holy Communion;
- we will not be allowed to sing at all during the service, or stand or move around other than to arrive and leave;
- we will not be sharing coffee or have any form of social gathering after the service. If you think you may need water during the service, please bring it with you;
- if someone does test positive the virus after they've been in church, anyone attending that service may be asked to get tested, and risks being put into self-isolation for 14 days.
If people are not able to comply with these processes, which the PCC has agreed are what is necessary in order to keep people safe, we will have to shut the church again.All our planned dates may very well change either because of our own circumstances (eg if someone does test positive after they have attended church, we may have to shut down again), or because of a change in the guidance from central Government or from our Bishops. We will of course always follow any guidance as closely as we can.
We recognise that all this is daunting. Church will certainly not feel the same as it used to with all these measures in place, and you may feel that with everyone in masks, and no singing or Holy Communion, that you would prefer not to return to worship at ASQ for the moment. We would quite understand if you felt like that, and there is certainly no pressure from us to come back to church before you’re ready.
Our intention is only to do what will keep us all as safe as possible as we gather to worship God. We want to open as soon as we can, because gathering to praise God and worship him is one of the reasons we’re here. But that doesn’t mean that this is the right time for everyone to return to worship in church; indeed, there we wouldn’t be able safely to accommodate our full congregation if everyone came at once.
We will continue to offer live-streamed services and prayers on our Facebook page and our website, and via Zoom. We’re intending to stream the services we’re holding in ASQ as well as the services from the Vicarage which we’ve been holding all through lockdown.
We’re also going to try gathering for an online coffee and chat after the service, since we won’t be able to do that in person. You can find all the invitations to services, our regular daily offices and the Sunday Fellowship and Coffee on our website here.
If you’d like to join in with those, even if up to now that hasn’t been possible, please do let Rev’d Kate know, she’d be delighted to help you get online with us.
We hope that these measures will be in place until September, and the PCC will review how it’s going before then and let you know what our plans for September are in due course.
But if you don’t feel safe coming to church at the moment, please do feel free to stay at home and pray with us and for us from wherever you are, and if you can, do join in with us online.
Otherwise, Rev'd Kate is continuing to pray from the Vicarage on Mondays - Thursdays (always 10am on Tuesdays and 5pm on Wednesdays, other days vary on availability), and at 10am on Sunday mornings. Those prayers are live-streamed on our Facebook page here if you want to pray with her, and all our prayers and recordings, including all our Sunday morning services, are posted on our website on the Streamed services and prayers page, so you can catch up if you haven't been able to join in live.
If you are unwell, or if you've got a particular person or issue that you'd like prayers for, please do also tell Rev'd Kate. She wants to know if you're poorly, and would be happy to talk or pray with you - call her on 020 8952 4536.
We are asking you please to keep an eye out for your neighbours. We're encouraging people to be "buddies" - to check in on each other from time to time, to make sure that people are coping, and to let Rev'd Kate know if there are concerns. If you find yourself in need of emergency council support or intervention, the helpful numbers from the London Borough of Brent are available here.
If you are finding it difficult to cope, we would like to help. If your problems can be solved by someone offering a helping hand, please get in touch with Rev'd Kate. These are anxious times for us all, but if you find your mental health is suffering, there is some advice from a faith perspective on practical steps you might want to consider here.
And of course we ask for your prayers. There are prayers available for the current situation on the Church of England website, but you may like to use this prayer:
Loving God,We pray for all those who are suffering because of coronavirus. May they know your healing power.When we are afraid for ourselves or our loved ones, give us your courage and your strength. When we feel alone and isolated, reassure us with a sense of your presence.Give wisdom to those in authority, and may our community come together for the good of all.We give thanks for all those who care for others, and ask you to be with them in all they do.We ask this in the name of Jesus, healer and physician.Amen.