As the UK seeks to chart its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is seeking to remove legal restrictions on gatherings from 19 July 2021 and instead move towards relying on personal judgement and choice.
As a country, we are fortunate that a significant proportion of the adult population have been vaccinated and therefore the serious risks associated with COVID-19 are reduced, however there are still risks posed by the disease both to vaccinated and unvaccinated people. These risks are the same in church as they are in other parts of life that many of us are still undertaking (e.g. visiting the supermarket).
There are many differing attitudes to the risk posed by the virus and its impact on the church and it is beholden upon us to act appropriately towards our brothers and sisters, particularly with COVID-19 clearly being still in circulation in the community. We need to be mindful that some amongst us are nervous or concerned, and equally we must consider that we all make decisions based on our attitude to risk every day. Philippians 2:1-4 says:
‘…if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’
We must pray for our brothers and sisters – pray for protection from COVID-19, for opportunities to witness to our contacts, and for grace and love towards others at all times. Pray also for wisdom for the Oversight as we seek to navigate this challenging period whilst also encouraging church unity and growth – there is no easy path to tread.
In order to assist with ensuring that Corringham Evangelical Church is as safe as possible during the ongoing pandemic, you are asked to consider the following points when attending a service:
- If you have any of the recognised symptoms of COVID-19 you must not attend the church building and must self-isolate in accordance with the latest government guidelines.
- As we are no longer requiring pre-booking for church services and services are held indoors, it may be sensible to consider wearing a face covering to protect both yourself and those around you. If worn, face coverings should cover both the mouth and nose, and disposable masks will continue to be made available should you not have your own mask and wish to wear one.
- Services will now be able to include singing and we are keen to incorporate this as we feel that it is a fundamental part of our worship. It is still unclear whether singing presents an increased risk of spread of COVID-19, but you may wish to consider wearing face coverings while singing to reduce infection risk.
- With limited space in the building it is not possible to ensure ‘social distancing’. If you are concerned then you should attempt to leave as much distance around you as possible and should politely and calmly request this consideration from anyone who seeks to sit near to you. Out of love for others, please accept this request if it is made of you.
- We will have hand sanitiser available at church entrances and encourage you to use this.
- You may wish to keep contact with those outside your household to a reduced level or you may wish to consider mitigating measures such as mask wearing or talking outdoors. If others appear nervous or uncomfortable, please seek to ‘value others above yourselves’ and treat others with respect.
- Windows will be open to assist with ventilation and you are asked to consider this when choosing what to wear while attending church.
- Services will continue to be live-streamed on YouTube and will also be available in recorded form after the service. The sermon will also be available as a podcast, as usual.
- Song books, Bibles, pens and all unnecessary objects have been removed from the church to reduce the risk of infection. You are asked to bring your own Bible with you or make use of the projected Bible.
- Refreshments will be served but you may wish to consider distancing around the church hall or preferably gathering outdoors to reduce the risk of infection.
While attending church will continue to be different during this period, the Oversight very much hope that these changes will be a step back towards ‘normality’ and will both glorify God and honour our brothers and sisters. We will, of course, continue to review Government guidelines and will make amendments to this guidance as required.