We are pleased to be able to announce that our church buildings in West Malling and Offham will re-open for Public Worship from Sunday, the 14th of March 2021: Mothering Sunday.
Having consulted with our Churchwardens, our local Retired Clergy, Lay Ministers and PCCs to canvass opinions, together we have agreed that we feel now is the right time to re-open.
While we were always confident in our risk assessment and the safety of Public Worship (with our Covid-19 restrictions) throughout this closure, it felt right to suspend gatherings because of the grave situation for the country as a whole. In solidarity with all those other organisations, businesses and charities that were not allowed to open, we also closed our doors and continued via online worship only.
With the Government’s roadmap now established and an increasing number of sectors starting to re-open, we feel the time is now right to resume Public Worship. We will follow the same pattern that was in place from July to Christmas last year with services on Sunday in West Malling and Offham and one on Wednesday (using the BCP) in West Malling. 2m distancing, face coverings, no congregational singing and all other Covid-safety restrictions are still in place. As the year progresses, and if things further improve, we may be given permission to relax some of those restrictions.
We are also aware that an increasing number of people have had their first vaccination and now we are at a point nationally where anyone over 56 years of age has the chance to receive it. That doesn’t yet help your Vicar (!) but it does help a good proportion of the various congregations.
At Offham, sadly we must continue with the eight household limit and a fortnightly rota of attendance. The Churchwardens will be in touch about that with members of St Michael’s. At St Mary’s, the limit is 26 households and the expectation is that there should be no need to book ahead given the greater capacity.
No-one should feel obliged to attend if they wish to take a more cautious approach. We will continue to offer Online Worship for those who would still like to worship with us in that way – whether because of their circumstances, or out of understandable caution for their health and the health of others.
If you have any questions or comments you wish to make, please do contact us in the usual way. If you are in need in any way, please do ask for help. We will be very pleased to help and speak with you.
Rev David Green
10 March 2021
on behalf of himself, the Churchwardens and PCCs
of West Malling and Offham