I rejoiced with those who said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
Lots of people have compared the time of lockdown to the Exile which the Israelites experienced when they were carried from Jerusalem to Babylon. Though it seems like a long time since we were able to gather to worship together in St John’s, our exile – praise God – has not lasted for over 50 years. However, there are some similarities: we have longed to return to worship in the church building we know and love; we have sought to continue lives of faith in the situations in which we find ourselves and serve those around us just as the Lord commanded the Israelites (Jeremiah 29); we will be returning to find church is not as it was before we left because things are different. Things will be different in part because we are still living with the challenges of Covid-19; it will be different because we have been changed by our experience of lockdown; it will be different because the needs of those we are seeking to serve will have been affected by the past four months.
Our next step
On Sunday 2nd August, we plan to open St John’s for public worship but it will look different to services in March. Initially, we will be holding a service of Morning Prayer at 10.30am. There will be a sermon but no singing. There will be no Holy Communion yet though we hope to reintroduce this soon. The service will be about 40 minutes long. We will be continuing with online provision and the Sunnyside online service for the foreseeable future.
Government advice continues to be that those who are shielding should stay at home until 1st August and that those who are over 70 should stay at home as much as possible. This does not mean you are not welcome to come to church but please bear this advice in mind when you are deciding whether or not you will come to public worship.
Anyone who is self-isolating because they or a member of their household have Covid-19 symptoms or have been told to self-isolate by Track and Trace should stay at home.
How St John’s will look if you come to church on Sunday 2nd August:
- You will be met at the porch door by someone who will take your name and a telephone number if you are a visitor. This information will be kept for 21 days and given to the Government if it is needed for Track and Trace. This information will not be used for any other reason.
- You will be asked to use hand sanitiser as you enter the church.
- Government advice is to wear a face covering in places of public worship so please put on a face covering as you enter St John’s (unless you are exempt).
- You will then need to find a seat and must only sit with people from your household. The pews have been labelled to show which are available. Please sit at the wall end of the pews with green ticks to maintain social distancing from people in the aisle.
- There will be a printed order of service on your pew. Please take this home with you to recycle as they can only be used once because of the risk of infection. We cannot use the pew Bibles because of the risk of infection so do bring your own Bible if you would like to.
- We will not be handing round the collection plates. There will be a plate by the entrance for you to use if you wish. The service leader will take this up and pray God’s blessing on the contents and the money given directly from our bank accounts.
- At the end of the service, you will be invited to leave via the glass door as we need to create a one way system. Please use hand sanitiser provided on the way out.
- The loo will be available if needed.
We are called to show our love for God by loving one another. We can do this very practically by:
- Not coming to church if we are feeling unwell or should be self-isolating
- Maintaining social distancing at all times, both inside and outside the church building
- Practising good hygiene by applying hand sanitiser
If you have any questions about the unlocking of St John’s, please speak to Rebecca or one of our churchwardens, John and Helen.