We are delighted to be able to announce that we are re-opening St Mary’s for Public Worship from Sunday the 26th of July.
However, there are a number of things that we need you to know and a number of things we need you to do. To start with, can we encourage you to watch this short two minute safety video to give you a brief rundown of how things will work and what we need you to do.
What will services be like?
- Every service will a service of Holy Communion. If, as we expect, you may only be able to attend two, three or four weeks, it is important that when you do attend, there is the chance to receive Holy Communion.
- Every service will be somewhat child-friendly. We cannot run Sunday School for the time being. Neither can children use toys or busy bags (other than ones they have brought from home). Neither is it appropriate to make every service an All-Age service. So every Minister leading or preaching will need to account for the fact children will be present and sat in a pew alongside their parents.
- Every service will be 30 to 40 minutes maximum. The risk of infection goes up the longer we stay together in the building, so we’ll keep services short.
What services will there be?
- Initially there will be one service on a Sunday in Offham at 9.15 a.m. and one in West Malling at 10.00 a.m. There will be a sermon. Both services will be based on Common Worship Holy Communion.
- There will be a Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service at St Mary’s at 9.30 a.m. every Wednesday during August. There will not be a sermon. We will review again at the start of September as to whether this service can return to Sundays at 8 o’clock.
- Christenings will not take place in the Sunday service for the time being.
- If there is a Christening in a lunchtime slot on a Sunday, the congregation present that morning will be asked to help sanitise after their service.
- Online Worship will continue as pre-recorded videos and pre-prepared web pages to be published each Sunday. Each week, the rota will allocate ministry leadership to the online environment; separate to offline leadership for that week.
How many people can come?
Sadly, because of the regulations concerning physical distancing and maintaining two metres distance, our maximum capacity is based on 14 households. If you’ve watched the video (above) and are coming on your own, we may be able to take more than 14 households with individuals sat at either end of a pew.
If more people want to return to church services than we accommodate, we will need to allocate people into groups and then inform each group which Sundays they can attend. It may be that we have a group on the first Sunday and another group on the second Sunday and so on.
If you don’t want to return to church now and are happy to continue worshipping online, you will be able to let us know later when you do want to come to church. If need be, we will allocate you to a group. Hopefully, the physical distancing regulations will relax in time and we will be able to welcome more people into the same service until such time as we can all be in church together.
How do I let you know what I want to do?
At present, we are conducting a survey. We would be really grateful if you would click on the link for the survey and complete your details to let us know what you would like to do.
The more households that let us know their plans and wishes, the better we can fairly and equitably enable as many people as possible to return to church.
What do I need to bring when I come to church?
You don’t need to bring anything, but you might want to think about bringing the following items:
- A face covering.
- Your own pen (to fill out a sign-in slip if you’re asked to do so).
- Your own Bible (spare Bibles will not be available to pick-up and use in church).
- If you have young children, you may like to bring a busy bag for the children. We can’t provide any of our materials at present because of the difficulties sanitising those items.