Many of us have long awaited the lifting of the restrictions, imposed for our safety and that of others. This process is now on the way but the changes are always tentative and always provisional (until statistics emerge showing that it was sensible to do so).
Paramount still, and for a long time to come, is and will be safety – your safety and mine, as individuals, is not only a question of my choice and your choice – we are now all connected, if you or I get sick there is the risk that others will get sick ….!!
Therefore staying at home is still the safest option, as is avoiding public transport, especially for the ‘at risk’ people who are those with medical conditions and those over 60.
All that said:
it is a joy that some form of public life can resume and amid this also the opening of churches.
Firstly dates – we are permitted to start public worship when all the safety criteria are in place and not before…
So given that the Old Catholics have only just heard from their diocese and we share a building we have to be patient.
However, over the last week Kara has worked through 4 documents produced by various church and civic bodies, including our own diocese, the Council has had those to work through themselves and then the Council Standing Committee met on Sunday 3rd May and the Old Catholic document has now also arrived.
There are three main points to register:
- Social distancing will be applied in church as anywhere else – so one person per pew (excepting a couple / family) and no social interaction is permitted on church premises, which includes the Centre and the forecourt in front of the church door or indeed during the service.
- Masks are compulsory. There will be no congregational singing. I am negotiating with Stephen about organ music, so yes he will play and sing – hymns, psalm, anthem…
- Hygiene will be stringent. In practice this most importantly means that the whole church will need to be disinfected between services. This in turn means we cannot offer worship at the usual Sunday morning time (and it will also mean consecration of communion wafers with gloves on and distributing them with sterilised sugar tongs and you wearing masks throughout).
(Also, although of course this is more relevant for me than you = information and communication is legally required on website and at every event. The safety case for holding services includes recording the contact details of everyone who attends in case anyone falls ill and people need to be contacted so they can go into isolation.)
What does all that mean for you as you make decisions about a return to church based worship?
- Firstly online worship will remain a feature of what we offer for at least another year, until vaccines are available for all, and possibly permanently given the growing number of you who live a long way from Stuttgart and joined us infrequently are now joining us more often online, as indeed are St Catherine’s family from overseas who join us from outside Germany. As our worship is web based it can be enjoyed at any time or on any day.
- Take time to consider the risks to you and to those with whom you live.
- It should be self-evident that all who have any kind of respiratory problems and any who have had contact with ill / possible ill persons / any who have travelled and should therefore be in 14 day quarantine are NOT to attend church.
- There will be a process by which you have to book yourself in ahead of time as names and contact details need to be kept (see above).
- The celebration of the Eucharist will have to wait a little longer.
- All that said your chaplain and organist will do their very best to offer meaningful and quality worship in church for those who do choose to come.
All provision will be reviewed in around 8 weeks but for now the choices we can offer are:
- Saturday evening at 17.00 – a service of the word (readings prayer music)
- Sunday evening at 18.00 – a service of the word (readings prayers music)
- plus Kara will be in an open church on Wednesdays 12:00-14:00 (possibly from Wed 13th May) for anyone wanting to sit and pray / reflect but without any human contact
Decisions about provision will be made based on feedback from you.
please email / contact
Kara – email@example.com or by phone
Alison – firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone
and let us know:
- Who wants to come in at all
- Preference for a Saturday service or Sunday service or Wednesday stillness
- Please also let Kara know if the Eucharist is actually the most important form of worship for you and we will bear this in mind as we review in late June/ early July and as restrictions ease further…
Thank you for taking the time to read through all that.
Thank you for your feedback to help us make the best provision in the circumstances.
Stay safe and stay blessed