|Hey Church Family! Natalie and I love you all and have greatly missed seeing you in-person during services. I have enjoyed preaching online, but it will be a joyful time for us when we each attend our first service back (which may be different for each individual). After much prayer and counsel, I have decided to reopen in-person church services on the 12th of July. Out of caution as shepherd of the flock, I am waiting eight days after the restrictions are lifted. New full guidelines are expected to be released just a day or two before the lockdown lifts and I want time to absorb them, plus it will give us a chance to breathe and observe what happens in the country when businesses and churches first reopen. But as a preacher, I can’t wait too long for the chance to see your faces and share your fellowship. One-metre distance is so much better than preaching to you through a camera lens. This decision was made after prayer, speaking with our deacons and discussing with other church leader friends. Also, Rob and the trustees have helped me in developing a COVID-19 health and safety risk assessment, which you can read here, and on which the following guidelines are established.These guidelines were drawn from Biblical principles; they are also in accordance with advice from our insurance company; the Christian (Law) Institute; and the Government’s guidelines for places of worship in the light of COVID-19. If anyone does not have peace about returning to in-person services yet, we understand. There is no pressure to attend until you are ready. We will continue to provide our online options for those who choose to remain home. We aim to do all we can to mitigate the risk to any who attend. However, we recognise your personal responsibility and accountability in choosing to attend a public event.|
|The PRINCIPLE OF SUBMISSION TO ONE ANOTHERSubmitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:21For genuine submission to exist it necessitates disagreement to exist. That disagreement can be resolved not by removing individual opinions, but by agreeing to unite according to a greater truth. For the Christian, that greater truth is our faith in Jesus Christ. A deep divide exists in society concerning COVID-19. We have all seen a variety of news reports, statistics, predictive models, and editorials. Many have lost their lives, and yet there are and there will continue to be debates and discussions as to whether this crisis is real, perceived, natural, manufactured, manipulated, or mismanaged. We understand some will not agree with these guidelines, but we ask that out of respect and care for those who do, that you follow them. Just as we have a responsibility to one another, we also want to consider our community and show them we care by exercising caution. We first-and-foremost gather to worship, encourage one another, and learn from God’s Word. As we fellowship let edification to godliness be our focus and motivate all we do.Let us not allow the divisions in our society to manifest in our congregation. As we prepare to regather as a body of believers, may we focus on what unites us – our faith. We can submit to one another and serve one another by observing some guidelines even if you do not personally feel they are necessary. As our families and communities observe our re-gathering let them see our mutual love, respect, and goal to worship God and share His Word. |
SHUTDOWN AND RE-OPENING PRINCIPLES:
|WHY DID WE SUSPEND SERVICES AND WHY ARE WE ESTABLISHING THESE GUIDELINES? Out of respect for authorities – as has already been stated, we understand there is much debate concerning the nature and severity of the current crisis. In the months ahead issues of civil liberties and our plans for future outbreaks will be discussed. Our opportunity, for now, is to demonstrate respect for the authorities that exist. Never in our lifetimes have requests and instructions, as have recently been put out by civil authorities, been seen. We have, on this occasion, given the benefit of the doubt to the elected officials and followed, to the best of our ability, the principles in Romans 13.|
Out of concern for one another – the worst-case scenarios presented at the outset have not unfolded. We thank God for that. Initially, the potential for even greater suffering and death was expected and out of an abundance of caution, we suspended our services. With the information we had at the time, we felt this suspension was necessary especially for the safety of our church family and community.
To demonstrate due diligence – The Christian (Law) Institute has warned of the possibility of legal action if measures and guidelines are not established. To protect the church and individuals from the possibility of fines and lawsuits these guidelines have been established. GUIDELINES I considered before announcing to re-open
Are numbers of confirmed cases and death rates consistently declining in our community and region? Yes.
Does anyone in the church have personal, physical contact with a confirmed case? Yes.
Are authorities easing restrictions on business and other gatherings? Yes.
GUIDELINES for YOU to consider before attending
If you answer yes to any of these questions, we ask that you do not gather with the church until you are healthy.Do you have any recent onset of the following symptoms consistent with COVID-19? (You should stay home and should arrange to have a test.)
A new continuous cough
A high temperature (Fever)
New loss of, or change in, normal taste/smell (anosmia)
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Repeated shaking with chills
Have you had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or demonstrated symptoms of COVID-19 in the past fourteen days? (You should stay home.)
Are you, due to age or underlying health issues, considered shielded / in receipt of a shielding letter? (You should stay home until after your period of shielding.)
Are you, due to age or underlying health issues, considered vulnerable to COVID-19? (You are encouraged to stay home, but where you do attend, you are strongly encouraged to observe the contents of this letter and take necessary precautions to protect yourself.)
If you are healthy and not considered vulnerable, do you risk passing the virus on to a vulnerable person? (You are encouraged to stay home, but where you do attend, you are strongly encouraged to observe the contents of this letter and take necessary precautions to protect others.)
Before we Re-open
I have attempted to purchase the necessary quantities of supplies of hand sanitiser, masks, tissues, and cleaning supplies. (I have even ordered a new type of cleaner developed recently by a local Peterborough company called Airosan, being used in hospitals and proven to kill COVID-19).
We are organising a cleaning crew to deep clean the entire facility prior to opening (on Friday, 10 July, after the 10 am ladies Bible study).We need to organise volunteers to supplement the current volunteers to ensure cleaning between services (let us know if you’d like to join this rota).RE-OPENING TIME-LINE (beginning 12th July):
|Interim Meeting Schedule (Phase 1)|
Service 1 (AM): 10:30-11:30 (will also be fully recorded and live-streamed)
Service 2 (PM): 6:00-8:00 (will also be fully recorded and live-streamed)To restrict numbers to around 30 per service, and to enable social distancing, we ask that those attending Sundays attend the services according to the following. 10:30 am (Families with children attending)6 pm (Families or individuals without children attending)
WednesdayPrayer Meeting and Bible Study: 7:00 pm (recording and live-stream begins around 7:30)(Anyone is welcome to attend on Wednesdays)
|Interim Service Guidelines|
Arriving for a ServiceSoap and Hand Sanitiser: Touch-less sanitiser dispensers will be available as you come into the building. Clean your hands frequently (upon arrival, after visiting the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, or after cleaning a dependent’s mucus or phlegm) by washing them with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser.
Masks: Face masks and gloves will be made available free of charge, or you may bring your own.Because we understand that for medical reasons some cannot wear a mask, they are not mandatory, but you must wear one if you would like to sing. (It is believed by the government that singing projects breath further and could spread the virus, so if you do not wish to wear a mask, you are asked to not sing, for the sake of others).Services will be limited to around one hour as we understand masks can be uncomfortable. As with some other precautions, we can demonstrate sympathy and compassion for other’s concerns by following these guidelines.
Coughs and Sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. Extra tissues will be available, but if you do not have one within reach, sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand. Dispose of tissues into a disposable rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser.We understand that many or even most carriers of the virus will be asymptomatic. However, as with several measures being taken, it is just part of our due diligence.
Seating: A doorman with gloved hands will be responsible to open doors for everyone. Please wait to be directed to a seat by one of our greeters. You will be seated as an individual, couple, or family to allow social distancing and to seat as many people as possible. We ask that families sit together.
Hymn Books: No hymn books will be handed out. The font size on the screens will be increased for those sight-impaired. Please contact us by the day before if photocopies of hymn words are required and we will do our best to provide them, but you must take it away yourself. There will be no singing without masks (see above).
Handshaking: We ask that no one shakes hands or initiates a physical contact, as this would violate the 1-metre rule.
Offerings: The offering box will be at the front of the building. If you do wish to bring cash or cheques, please seal them in an envelope before bringing them. You may also use our online giving options (see bottom).
Coming/Going: Please do not enter the middle aisle unless the space is clear to do so. Tape will be placed on the floor to help visitors to visualise the 1-metre social distancing recommendation. After the service, the fire doors near the piano will be opened and we ask that unless you need to visit the facilities, you exit through these instead of the front doors. No food or drink will be offered after the service. Please do not congregate outside the church building without maintaining social distancing (this is an important testimony issue for the community).
Lord’s Supper: If and when we observe the Lord’s Supper during the first two phases, it will be as described in the Health and Safety / Risk Assessment document attached.
Children’s MinistriesDuring the first phase, we will not hold any children’s meetings during the services or at alternative times. Instead, all children can remain with their parents in the service. We are adjusting our order of service and service length to accommodate for this change.
BACKROOM: The back room will be open only for parents of young children, but no children’s volunteers will be available. A church volunteer will be available to direct parents to baby changing resources in the room, but all toys and play items will have been removed (if carers wish to entertain children with toys, etc, they must bring these from home and take them back with them after the service). Because of the size of the room, only two carers (plus their children) should use the room at any one time, while also maintaining social distancing.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR: After so long having to use only the digital options we’ve provided, I am sure that even with these restrictions, worshipping together for the first time will be a meaningful day for you, whenever that day is for you as an individual. Even with outward restrictions, the Lord is definitely able to move and work in our lives in extraordinary ways in the services, with joy overflowing in our hearts, no matter the current situation or outside circumstance. My prayer for us all is that of Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”Surely there are some great lessons you have learned during the lockdown, impacts on your walk with the Lord, areas of your life God has been refining, habits you have begun that you want to continue. Be ready to share these things with us. I’m excited to continue moving forward along with you as God’s church. “Remember ye not the former things, Neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; Now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, And rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
This week online: