Weekly letter and notices, 22 Aug 2021

Dear member of the All Saints family,

We now have the results of the Covid Questionnaire, seeking your input on how we should move forward as a church following the governments easing of restrictions on 19th of July.  Many thanks for taking the time to reply, it has helped us understand the views of the church.  The SurveyMonkey online facility helpfully (thanks, Christina!) puts the results in summary graphs so I have included them in the message so you can look at them for yourself.  There were 106 responses online and 8 responses on paper and I have used these to calculate the numbers below except for Q1 which was not included in the paper version.  It is helpful to have a look at the results as we do have a spread of views of how we should move forward; some are eager to remove restrictions whilst some are more cautious, and some are vulnerable themselves or have contact with vulnerable people. 

The spread of views is illustrated in the answer to Q8, ‘How much do you agree with this statement: “I feel anxious about changing the Covid safe rules at All Saints”‘.   The results show that 34% of people agree or strongly disagree with this, whilst 45% of people disagree or strongly disagree.  21% of people neither agreed nor disagreed.  Whatever we do, we must proceed with caution, and make our arrangements cater for everyone as far as possible. 

I’d like next to look at Q5 and 6, which ask about the key change of either singing in church behind masks (Q5) or singing in church without masks (Q6).  A majority of people would like to sing behind masks (54% agree/strongly agree), but 51% (disagree/strongly disagree) of people do not want to sing without masks (vs. 36% who agree/strongly disagree).  The message here would be that there is a desire to sing, but behind masks.

We need next to look at Q7, which asks about zoning to provide delegated zones – one for those who would like to sing and another for people where extra precautions would be taken.  Here the views are clear with 54% agree/strongly agree and 34% who disagree/strongly disagree.  Here, the zoning is an accepted route to protect people who do not want to sing.

The next issue is face masks.  On the question “I would prefer to stop wearing face masks inside the church building”, more people disagreed (46% disagreed/strongly disagreed) than agreed (36% agreed/strongly agreed).  However, on the question “I would prefer for everyone to wear a face mask all of the time” the results were very similar – 40% disagreed/strongly disagreed and 39% agreed/strongly agreed.  Much closer results than for singing.

Finally, Q3 and 4 asked about social distancing.  Q3 asked “When/If my face mask is off, I would prefer to be socially distanced from other people”.  A very clear message came back with nearly 3/4 of people agreeing with this, and very few disagreed.  In addition, Q4 asked “I would prefer to always to be socially distanced from everyone else”: more people agreed (48% agreed/strongly agreed) than disagreed (35% disagreed/strongly disagreed) with this, but the results were much closer than for Q3.

In all questions between roughly 10% and 20% of people neither agreed nor disagreed.  There were a number of comments as well, which was very helpful and they support the range of views expressed.

As a result of this, John and I have written to Hennie Johnstone and Christina has rewritten the risk assessment in consultation with Paul Barnfather to make the following proposals for easing restrictions:

  1. Allowing singing whilst wearing masks.  We would encourage people not to sing loudly.
  2. Having a zone at the back of church for those not comfortable with singing.
  3. Continuing to social distance in church.
  4. Encouraging the congregation to wear masks whilst moving around church.
  5. Allowing people to remove masks when sat down in the pews and not singing.

The final point needs some explanation, given the results on wearing masks.  We thought that we don’t want to exclude people who don’t want to wear masks and we know that we can maintain social distancing whilst in church.  So, whilst there was not a clear preference to not wear masks, we can follow many other churches and allow masks to be removed when we are sitting down in pews.

We will review the measures after a month of use to see how things have proceeded and whether any changes need to be made.

We will start with the new arrangements on August 29th, to enable all the formal processes to be completed and to be prepared for the change for the services.

In addition to answering the questions, a good number of people offered to help manage the services as we continue in the ongoing pandemic – many thanks for this – you will be contacted!

We look forward to the next step in enhancing our worship together!

Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together

                        Psalm 34 v3

With best wishes and blessings,

Andy Creeth and John Chester, Churchwardens

This was posted on 18 August 2021 in Weekly letters and notices

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