Pastoral Letter to Parishioners of Kidderminster East regarding lifting of lockdown
As we write this letter to you we are experiencing the ending of lockdown restrictions throughout the country and, of course, this is having implications for our parish and its churches. We are going back to church, singing is now permitted, we are proclaiming the blessing at communion, facemasks and social distancing are no longer compulsory and, in some parts of our parish, things are opening up again as for example, Café Chad. And, of course, baptisms and weddings are starting to take place once more.
And yet somehow it really doesn’t feel “back to normal” does it?
It is obvious that there is still a lot of nervousness and concern around in our parish community. Most people are still choosing to wear facemasks and observe social distancing and are leaving church at the end of the service fairly quickly. This is understandable, however many people are also reasonably commenting that surely this situation cannot continue indefinitely. And in the middle of all of this, we as a church leadership team are trying to balance all of these thoughts and attitudes and trying to make decisions that are balanced, cautious and fair!
In the light of this (and asking in advance for your forgiveness if we sometimes get decisions wrong!) we have decided that we would like to apply the following guiding principles to our parish as we continue to look to parish life in the future.
(a) we will be cautious, whilst also encouraging some lifting of the restrictions
(b) we will keep to the following restrictions until the virus infection rate is generally agreed to be falling and expected to continue falling
(c) people may sit together in the rows or pews, but the rows will remain distanced from each other
(d) the congregation may sing, but with masks on, and during the rest of the service may remove the masks if they wish to
(e) we will sing three congregational items
(f) at Holy Communion we will continue to distribute bread and wine, placing a drop of wine on the bread using the pipette
(g) at the distribution the minister will speak the words (or pray a blessing) out loud, and we won’t require people to sanitise at that point in the service
(h) at St Cassian and St George we will continue to use the forward Holy Table
(i) at the end of the service we will offer to shake hands (or bump elbows), knowing that hand sanitiser is available nearby.
As on previous occasions we will be reviewing these plans and decisions on a monthly basis and adding this information to the parish newsletter and parish webpage.
Behind all of this is the biblical idea of supporting and caring for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to be looking after ourselves and each other and respecting and acknowledging the concerns of one another. It is true that we are still not where we would ideally like to be, however by the same token we are not where we were. Therefore we need to be bearing one another up in faith and in love and looking after the interests of one and all.
We realise that over the last year and a half in the parish this has been happening in many different ways and we want to acknowledge this and express our thanks to so many people in the parish who have supported people through such difficult times; it has been greatly appreciated.
God bless you all and please stay safe.
David and Robert