Next services in church...
25th October 10am Morning Prayer
1st November 10am Holy Communion
8th November Remembrance Sunday - No service in church - see below
15th November 8am BCP Communion
Why only one service each Sunday?
Under regulations, after each service we have the option of either cleaning every surface which has been touched or leaving the building closed for 72 hours to be naturally decontaminated. St. Helen's building would require an awful lot of cleaning!
If circumstances allow we may introduce a service on a Wednesday to spread the demand.
What will be different?
We will all enter through the North door. You may have to queue and wait to enter. As you enter you will be asked for contact details (for track and trace) which will be stored for 21 days and then destroyed. Giving details is mandatory. We may check your temperature as a further safeguard. Please wear your face mask as you enter and only remove it when you leave at the end of the service.
As you enter you will need to use hand sanitizer and you may be directed to where to sit. Each household must be in separate pews and all available pews will be at least 2m apart. All bibles will have been removed so bring your own! Service sheets will be in the pews. Please leave them in place as you leave.
The services will feel different as there cannot be any singing but we will do our best to ensure a meaningful time is spent together. The services will also be shorter initially.
At the end of the service you may be directed when to leave. If you wish to have a chat with friends please wait until you are outside!
How many people can the church now hold safely?
There will be room for around 20 "households" - a household is an individual, couple or family from the same home or extended household (eg grandparents can sit with grandchildren).
We can share Holy Communion - but only in one kind. The bread will be distributed as you leave the building to minimise movement inside.
and the offertory?
We won't be passing a plate around for our giving. Instead, there will be a plate/jar at the back to put gifts in at the beginning or end of the service.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
Yes, please, unless you have medical need not to. Children under 11 and those with certain medical conditions are exempted. However, this may change.
I recognise that this is a lot to take in but we are trying our best to provide as covid-safe an environment as we can.
We may need extra help to ensure that the arrangements we have in place work and that the welcome people receive is still warm. If you are fit and healthy and keen to return to the building, please do offer your services.
This last few months have also been a huge burden on the financial resources of St. Helen's (as well as every parish church and diocese nationally!) Not only has there been no weekly offering but we have also had several weddings that have had to be postponed. The spring and summer is normally when our finances are boosted ready for the extra costs of autumn and winter. Can I please ask that you prayerfully consider your giving at this time?
And finally, finally...
We walk in faith trusting our heavenly father but we also use the wisdom, intelligence and compassion that He has gifted us with. Together, we can make reopening work at St. Helen's.
A Way to Remember… Remembrance Sunday
Normally at this time of year we would be thinking about the season of Remembrance and gearing up for the usual act of Remembrance around the war memorial. But, this year isn’t any normal year and it is with great regret that we simply cannot do what we would normally do.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 we cannot gather in such large numbers and I know many people are quite rightly uncomfortable around large crowds. Therefore, this year we will not be having our usual act of Remembrance around the war memorial and service in church.
Our act of Remembrance will move online and details for that will be available shortly. For those who would like to pay their respects at the war memorial, please do come but space out your visits over the course of the day.
I would also encourage you to pay your respects in two other ways. Firstly, why not decorate a picture of a poppy and display it in your window and secondly at 11am on Sunday the 8th November mark the two-minute silence by standing at the front of your house so as a village we are still “remembering” together.
But finally, I would encourage you to remember the words at the end of the act of remembrance:
“Let us commit ourselves to responsible living and faithful service
All: We will strive for all that makes for peace, seeking to heal the wounds of war and working for a just future for all humanity.”
When we remember, we not only think back but we look forward. We remember those who came before us and then we strive to build a better world.
There is nothing that can prevent us from doing this and, one could argue, that in the midst of a global pandemic, there is no better time to ensure we are working for peace, love and reconciliation.
In this coming season of Remembrance, my prayer is that all of us will remember the call to build a better world - for ourselves, for our neighbours, for future generations - that the horrors of the past are not repeated and that peace, instead, reigns.
Rev Andy Hobbs