The past few weeks, advice over how we should help keep each other safe has been constantly changing. We have already begun to adapt our practices during the eucharist, and this week, we face more substantial changes to our usual patterns of hospitality. This post explains what and why, and gives links to some of the documents that have informed our decisions.
One of the hard things about responding well to limit the spread of a virus is that the more successful we are, the more it will seem that the steps were unnecessary. It’s better we live the accusation of over-reacting than that we put people unnecessarily at risk. So, this is what you can expect, unless and until the advice changes.
We will continue to worship each Sunday unless and until we are told that we may not. In the midst of this stressful time, it is so important that we have space to re-ground ourselves in God’s love, and hold to the deep rhythms of faith.
Communion will be offered in one kind (bread only), with the priest receiving the cup on behalf of the whole people of God. We have also been asked to receive standing, to avoid multiple hands touching the altar rail.
The clergy and servers will wash their hands before preparing the bread and wine, and will use hand gel repeatedly as needed during the service.
At the Peace, we will turn and bow to those around us, saying ‘peace be with you’. We ask that also refrain from greeting each other before or after the service by shaking hands.
There may come a time when worship is suspended. If that should happen, we will offer other ways of supporting each other in prayer and praying together from our dispersed places at set times of day.
We have been asked to ‘suspend catering’ except where it is possible to serve with only one person touching things. That is not practically feasible in our kitchens. Therefore, with great reluctance, we will not be servicing tea, coffee & cakes after worship, or at any gathering in church.
The weekly coffee morning in New Waltham is cancelled for now.
We will be speaking with all those who use our premises to ask that they do not serve food or drink unless they can do so with full regard for current advice.
Lent Groups & meetings
Although the government’s strategy is to seek ‘herd immunity’ by exposing those in low risk categories to the virus in a managed way, most of our church groups include people who are at high risk. We are therefore suspending the Lent Groups and other group gatherings for now. We will offer some resources through the web page and facebook, and will continue our journey with Sacred Stories once we can reconvene.
Caring for each other
As more and more people are choosing to self-isolate, it is important that we have ways to keep in touch. We are creating a telephone tree that will allow us to keep in touch with everyone who wishes. Those who choose to take part will receive a phone call from someone on the tree at least once a week, as well as from one of the ministry team. This will allow us to check in, and offer help to those who need it.
The telephone tree is for the whole community — do invite your neighbours to join in.
Anyone who wishes to join the telephone tree can do so on Sunday, or by leaving a message with your name and number on the rectory phone (01472 822172).
If you are ill — even if you think it’s not corona virus — please help protect others by staying home. The clergy will bring you communion at home if you wish — just get in touch, and we’ll arrange a visit.
Helping those who are shut in
We are starting a WhatsApp group for those who need help with shopping while they are self-isolating. If you need help or can give help, join in here: Help during Covid-19. This is for members of the church community and villages of Waltham, New Waltham, Ashby, Brigsley, Barnoldby, and Ravendale.
Weddings & Christenings
For the time being, we are going to change our system of booking so that we make plans by telephone rather than face to face.
If you would like to book a wedding or baptism, please send us a message with your name and phone number, either on our facebook page or on WhatsApp. You can also ring the rectory on 01472 822172, though please use WhatsApp if at all possible.
We will ring you during the usual office hour on Mondays between 6 – 7 pm.
If you are worried about your wedding, and not sure what to do, please speak with us. None of us are sure what’s best right now, but it is our intent to honour all bookings, and to rearrange dates should you wish, or if it becomes necessary given public health advice.
We are putting in extra safety precautions for baptisms, and are happy to work with you to figure out what is best for your family. If you have a baptism booked, and are uneasy about having your family gather, we will reschedule for a later date.
We will be in touch with all of those who use church premises to discuss how we best keep people safe together.
We are facing so many unknowns right now. It is easy to feel overwhelmed.
When you are feeling anxious, remember that just a few minutes to breathe and pray can help us calm down and become centred again. Be kind to yourself. Rest. Keep in touch. Know that God loves you, and you are held in that love always.
It would be foolish to pretend that there won’t be hard days ahead, but we will get through this together, whatever comes.
Links – fun and useful
Understanding the numbers – pretty graphs and a helpful maths lesson on why early response matters