to receive our monthly newsletter by email - just give us your name and email address. Members are able to access the most recent edition of our newsletter from the members' area of this website.
Vicar's Letter for this month
August seems to have flown by, and here we are with
the schools starting back again already! September is, as always, a time of new
New beginnings will be a focus for our church life
too, in the weeks ahead. We have not been able to worship together at the
Community Centre since 15 March. It has felt an awfully long time!
There has been so much we have missed during these past months: our worship and
fellowship together week by week in church; the ‘buzz’ of Sunday mornings as we
meet and greet one another and catch up on news; the joy of our music and
singing God’s praises together; the shared moments of quiet contemplation and
prayer; the times in worship when we feel we are standing, like Moses, on holy
ground; the wonderful joy of receiving communion together, and oh, so much
Churches and faith communities have been allowed to
return since the beginning of July. We have taken to heart the wise advice of
our bishops not to rush back. There have been consultations with church members
on this twice since early July. The first time it was clear from your responses
that it was too soon to return. Very few of you were ready to come back at that
stage. Following further consultation just a few days ago, the response was far
more encouraging and positive, with just over half of those responding keen to
return. There have been more offers of help too. In the light of all this, the
PCC has agreed to resume services at The Good Shepherd from Sunday 20
There are still people who cannot yet come back to
church, due to their own particular circumstances. There is also still plenty
of anxiety around, and that is understandable given all that has happened both
globally and nationally this year. Each of us needs to make our own decision
about when the time is right.
As you will be aware, we are not returning to
church, ‘as normal’ – if only! Instead, we will be back to yet another ‘new
normal’, resembling to some degree the ‘new normal’ just before going into
Booking in advance will be helpful, though probably not essential. Doing
this will help us to arrange seating according to household groups. The
Community Centre has had to set a limit of 30 people allowed in the Victory
Hall for the time being. This will be a challenge, given our usual numbers, but
we will try to ensure a fair system so that everyone who wants to attend a
service will be able to do so, on a regular basis. As not everyone will be coming back at this stage, I am
hopeful those wanting to attend should be able to come.
Everyone will need to follow careful and regular hand hygiene. There are
plenty of hand sanitisers available at the Community Centre now – do use them!
If you can, bring your own with you.
As you will know, wearing face coverings/masks is now required by all
congregational members, unless they are exempted from wearing masks – such as children
under 11, or those with certain physical or mental health conditions. Those
leading worship are not required to wear a face covering during services,
providing a 2-metre social distance is maintained. I will be wearing a mask
when administering communion. Those reading or leading intercessions can remove
masks to enable themselves to be heard.
Sadly, congregational singing is still not allowed - although we have
heard in recent days that small church choirs or singing groups and/or soloists
may sing now, provided appropriate social distancing rules are followed.
The Peace will be shared in similar ways to just
before lockdown i.e. no physical contact other than those within the same
household - waving (as we have at zoom services) or bowing the head with palms
clasped together (as at Burnham Abbey) are all acceptable ways of sharing the
Peace with each other for the time being.
Communion will continue to be given in one kind only, as it was before
lockdown. Ministers have been given advice on best hand hygiene precautions
Sadly, for the time being we are not allowed to serve refreshments after
church. Please do take opportunities as you arrive at the Community Centre, or
once outside again after the service to catch up with one another.
We discourage use of the Centre toilets unless in
urgent need. The practicalities of cleaning and disinfecting between each use
will be complicated to say the least! The service is going to be shorter which
should help. Some churches are keeping toilet facilities closed. Many of us
will remember years of going to church without any toilet facilities. None of
the churches in my three former parishes had toilets.
There will be a risk assessment available for those
who would like to see it.
We are following Church of England and Government
guidance in all that we are doing, to keep everyone safe. Please help us.