Towards Reopening - Private Prayer

 

Dear Friend

I do hope that you are well in body, mind and soul as we continue through this time of change and challenge remembering that God is our ever faithful and loving heavenly Father and that, as Julian of Norwich wrote, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well’.

 You will be aware that the Government has stated that churches can open for private prayer from Monday 15th June, and we anticipate that it might be possible to have a public service of Sunday worship sometime in July.  This will not be a going back to things as they were before – restrictions placed upon us by the Government, the diocese, and the general need to protect public health will remain in place.

 We have, and we continue to, put much thought and planning in to how we will reopen our churches both to private prayer and, when we can, public worship and I would now like to share with you the course of action we will be adopting.

 Opening our churches for Private Prayer

Following the advice and guidance issued by the Government and the Church of England we will be initially only re-opening St Nicholas’ church as a place of private prayer on Monday 15th June.

We will only be initially re-opening St Nicholas’ so that:-

1.      We can ‘protect’ St Saviour’s as a place for Sunday worship – leaving it unused for 72 hours after a Sunday gathering, as recommended.

2.      We can ‘protect’ our admin staff who will be using St Saviour’s in their daily work.

3.      We can keep the daily cleaning that will be required to a manageable level.

4.      We have enough time to do the required re-organisation of St Nicholas’ so that we can open on 15th June.

This does not mean that in due course, should all go well, we will not re-open part of St Saviour’s church for private prayer.

 To open St Nicholas for 15th June we will:-

1.      Open the church between 9am and 5pm daily – a rota is being drawn up of those willing to open the church in the morning – with the doors being left open.

2.      No guardians will be present (this is in line with issued advice and cleared with our insurers).

3.      Hand sanitizer points will be established in the church porch and inside the church with clear signage reminding people of the social distancing requirements and the need to use hand sanitizer on entry and exit.

4.      All valuables, leaflets, books, merchandise (indeed everything that might be picked up and put down by someone) will be removed from the church prior to the 15th June.

5.      The church will be cleaned each night on locking at 5pm – particularly door handles and pew tops.

6.      Signage will be placed in the porch at St Saviour’s signposting people to St Nicholas’.

7.      A letter will be sent to all on our Electoral Roll and placed on our website communicating the opening of St Nicholas’ for private prayer.

Towards Re-opening Our Churches for Sunday Worship

We plan to initially only re-open St Saviour’s church for public worship on a Sunday, primarily because it has the space we need to maintain social distancing, one-way flows, separate entry and exit points and the other various restrictions that we anticipate will be required. 

 To enable such a re-opening we will need to plan the practical side of things, but also the longer term strategic aims we might now want to have in these changing times (e.g. we may want to continue with and develop our online presence – if so how are we going to resource this and Sunday services?)

 To enable such planning and thinking we have produced planning documents (a set of scenarios and questions) for four teams to explore – Buildings Team; Worship Team; Finance Team; and Hall Team.  There will be a fifth Steering and Communication Team to coordinate the outcomes of the four key planning teams.

 The leaders of these teams may well contact you to help them in their planning and thinking – please do support them if you can.  The more of this we share amongst us all the less of a burden it becomes for a few.

 I do hope that we will be able to open to some form of public Sunday worship in July, but we will not do so until we are as certain as can be that we will be as safe as we can be.

 In the meantime thank you for your continued support, prayers, ideas, patience, and practical help.   If you have any thoughts, comments or questions regarding the above, please do contact me or the Churchwardens  (for whom I give daily thanks to God for – they have been a wonderful support).

 With love

 Simon Newham    (Vicar of Brockenhurst)