Dear All Saints Family,
Craig here with a (rather long!) introduction to a message from our wardens, Andy Creeth and John Chester. As most of you will know, I made an announcement at both services last Sunday, that we were in the process of our COVID risk assessments being reviewed. I can now clarify that this has been done and has been actioned by myself as vicar and agreed by our Health and Safety Officer, Paul Pschierer-Barnfather.
We have taken into consideration the various perspectives from our congregations and have suggested a trial period of a month to see how these revisions to the risk assessment play out. Our hope is that you see that the heart behind this revision is to effectively give people more of a choice as to the wearing of face masks, where and how they sit and move around the centre etc. There is still a degree of good practice kept in place, but some of our stricter enforcements have been relaxed.
I want to stress that the former assessments were right for their time, and I want to express my sincere gratitude, to Christina Beveridge, our Centre Manager, who has taken on a lot of this responsibility over COVID lockdown and in the vacancy time. This responsibility has now ultimately passed on to me as the vicar, which will hopefully alleviate some of the burden of responsibility for others, including Christina.
As we journey into the next season of ‘living with COVID’ as a society, I believe it is time to at least trial an adaptation accordingly. I want you to be fully aware that I know and appreciate that there will be levels of both relief and frustration regarding both the changes and the things currently kept in place. I am very happy to have a discussion with anyone of you who has concerns to express. Please feel free to drop me an email.
I’m praying that we all (myself included) operate within an economy of grace – understanding that we may disagree with some of the decisions made, but continuing to treat one another with dignity, honour and respect – effectively modelling to our church how to love one another, even when there are disputes amongst us. This is a highly emotive area that the Enemy may want to use to drive a wedge between us – let’s pre-empt his attack by praying for one another and our wider church community over this time.
So please read and digest the below message from the wardens. As stated above, the revision is for a trial period for a month.
May you be filled to overflowing with the peace of Christ that passes all understanding, now and always.
New COVID arrangements for Church Services
As Craig said on Sunday, we have been reviewing the COVID arrangements for church and we have now reached a conclusion and have completed a modified risk assessment. As Craig mentioned, the
principles used were to recognise that we have a range of levels of comfort with the risks involved in attending public worship as well as understanding that, of course, some are vulnerable, some have vulnerable people at home or work with those who are vulnerable. In addition, we know that we all have been well-informed of the risks of contact and the protection provided by the vaccine by the government and health service. We therefore want to move further to allow people to make a choice of how they would feel comfortable to worship bearing this in mind. The changes are as follows:
- Firstly, we will remove the one-way system – this means you are free to enter the church by both the Hoole Road and Tower doors.
- We won’t take a list of attendees because we are no longer required to do so and because we will not now be asked to provide names for test and trace purposes.
- The requirement to wear masks when moving around the church is no longer mandatory – of course you are free to wear one if you prefer to. (UPDATE ON THIS ITEM – since this was written, the government’s Chief Medical Advisor, Chris Whitty, has been advising that masks are encouraged to be worn in crowded indoor spaces. This is not mandatory, but we are strongly encouraging them to be worn whilst moving around the church space and whilst singing, until further notice).
- We will now have three areas of church with different arrangements. Two are what we are used to – an area at the back of church for those not comfortable with singing; and another with social distancing – ie every other row used and gaps between people. In this zone we continue to ask you to wear masks whilst singing and saying responses when standing up. In the third area, the social distancing requirements will be removed including the use of every row. You can choose not to wear a mask for singing, however we are strongly recommending that you do wear a mask in line with the recent recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of England.
- We will need to understand the numbers preferring the different areas, so at first, we will divide the church in two: the side of the church nearer the Hoole Road entrance be will for the area without social distancing and the side nearer the vestry door will have social distancing. We will adapt the size and location of the areas as the numbers become clear.
At the end of the service, we will still ask you to leave the church to meet each other. We will review this as the weather gets colder.
We will review the arrangements for services in a month’s time once we have gained experience with them.
Andy Creeth and John Chester