Emmanuel and ‘Step 4’
As we’ve now reached Step 4 in the relaxation of restrictions relating to Covid-19, here’s my attempt at a guide to what will stay the same and what will change at Emmanuel, both in terms of services and other events that take place in the building.
We want our Church to be somewhere where all can come, belong and participate, whether online or in person. It’s easy to say that we want to be a family of faith where there’s always room for one more but this needs to be lived out in practice too. This includes finding ways for those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to play their part. At a time when it seems we’re in a headlong rush to ‘freedom’ and ‘normal’ (we’ve left the phrase ‘new normal’ behind, it seems) it is crucial to me that we don’t leave anyone behind or leave any individuals, families or groups feeling like they have been ignored or forgotten. Those who are ‘vulnerable’ should be given the place of greatest honour in our life together. I realise that each person or family’s response will be individual, but I’d love to explore with you how we can set good principles and practice to enable all to be feel like they are taking part to the level they want to.
I realise that the developments outlined below won’t suit everybody. I can only apologise for that. I’m so grateful for the way that our Church family has been so calm and supportive during this season in our lives. It really has made leading our Church and all that we are and do seem a bit more possible. Thank you.
What We’d Like To Stay the Same
As before, please do not attend a service or event if you are unwell or have symptoms of Covid-19
We have now reached a moment when we can’t compel anyone to do anything. Depending on how you feel about ‘freedom’ you’ll think this is great, or you won’t. I’d prefer to think of where we are now as being our having been given the freedom to care for one another. It’s easy to think only of ourselves. I do that naturally and I expect you do too, but I think it is quite a powerful and prophetic statement to put others first and not be so concerned with our own needs/wishes/desires.
As has been stated previously, we will continue our online services. We now have four congregations and the online service continues to provide something that we weren’t previously and connect with a lot of people.
We are requesting that when you are visiting our building for services or events indoors, you consider:
- carrying on wearing a mask,
- maintaining social distancing where you can
- and continuing with sanitising.
- If you wish to, you will be able to ‘check in’ with the NHS app, as our posters will remain up.
As I said, we can’t make anyone do anything. It really is up to us to make choices about how we handle everything, but people watch what Christians do all the time and especially at times like this. I hope we will choose the loving, life-giving, sensible, optimistic way forward.
So to recap, please
- keep wearing masks indoors when in the Emmanuel building. This is in line with what Weston Favell Centre would like people to do too.
- So is continuing to ‘check in’ using the posters provided for the purpose
- continuing to socially distance where possible and
- sanitise your hands regularly using the sanitiser provided throughout the building.
You may not wish to socially distance any more, and we can’t force you to, but please be aware that others will. Our aim, as I said, is to be a community where all are welcomed and feel able to play their part, please bear others in mind. One suggestion you might wish to consider is leaving a chair between yourself/your household or bubble and the people next to you. It might seem silly but it also might make others feel more comfortable, perhaps even comfortable enough to join us when they wouldn’t otherwise and that would be worth it.
We will be continuing with our planned service pattern of fortnightly services for Emmanuel through the summer holidays. This will change on September 5th when the aim is to go weekly. Boothville is now meeting weekly. Rectory Farm is about to begin meeting in the refurbished Community Centre.
- Singing this is now permitted and we will be re-introducing singing to our gatherings for worship. It would be our preference that you sing wearing masks, for now at least.
- Booking In is no longer needed but we would like it if you would help us by leaving us with contact information for one member of your household/bubble. This will help us keep in touch with you and also enable us to let you know if there’s a Covid-related ‘ping’ you need to be aware of. Don’t you just love these new phrases?
- Communion at present we will not be using Chalices to distribute wine at Communion Whilst the new guidance we have been given from the Church of England says it is permissible to use what is called the ‘common cup’ now, I am wholly unconvinced that this is wise at the moment. As an ecumenical Church we have the possibility of using small glasses to share non-alcoholic wine and I am happy to explore that, provided that we have the right number of stewards for a service who are willing to assist with this. It may take us a bit of time to arrange what is needed for this, so if you come to a Communion service in the next few weeks and find it is in one kind, or bread only, please be patient as we work out the best way to handle this. Personally I feel that it will be some time until a Chalice is part of our Communion practice again. For now, we will continue to distribute Communion to you in your seats.
All of these developments will need to be reflected in an updated risk assessment, which will be completed in the coming days. They are all, as you might expect, subject to change and to developments.
If we’re Christians, we know that the ultimate freedom all of us have is the one that Jesus set us free for, to know Him and to invite others to know Him too. No other freedoms will ever come close to that one and so, however you feel at the moment and however you choose to live in this phase of our lives together, hold on to Jesus, hold fast Him. Trusting in Him is always a good decision.