Emerging from Lockdown - revised arrangements in church services
All of us on the PCC of St Paul’s Church are committed to returning to a physical gathering for worship together, for all who are able to attend. Gathering together is really important for Christians, but we recognise that in the current circumstances doing so can cause varying degrees of anxiety, so as we make plans to meet together we should all bear with one another in love (Colossians 3: 12 – 14).
As embodied creatures God has made us to see and hear and touch, as well as think. Our physicality is an essential good. But, also, our purpose is to worship our Creator God, fully and finally in our resurrected physical bodies in God’s very presence. And so, the church’s physical gathering today in Christ Jesus is a shadow of that future hope, meeting together to worship as one body in God’s presence by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Our recent church survey gave a clear indication that the majority of our church family would like to change the current ‘distancing’ rule – 36% said no prescribed distance, 40% said 1m+ (with mitigations) and 25% to stay at 2m. In the light of this survey, and especially the theological principles above, the PCC decided at our Extra Meeting last Monday to change our arrangements from an essentially managed system to a system providing greater freedom for individual choice.
There are two aspects to it:
Firstly, if you would like to come to church and maintain a distance of 2m from others, please continue to book as you have been. These bookings will allow us to ensure that sufficient and suitable seats are available for you.
Secondly, for everybody else, we are scrapping the booking-in system. All rows can be used and distancing is adaptable – when you find your own seat you can decide whether you are happy for others to sit next to you, or you want a one chair gap or two chairs gap between you and others. You can do this by putting the card that will be in the back of the chair, onto the seat or seats either side of you, indicating to others that they should not sit in those places. A similar system will apply to overflow seating in the Hall and at Prescott Avenue.
Through this system, we are seeking to serve the whole body in a loving and compassionate way.
At present, the other mitigations will continue, as we continue to respond to feedback asking us to proceed cautiously: encouraging the wearing of masks (particularly for singing), extra ventilation in the building, hand sanitising, seating facing the front, mingling outside for fellowship rather than inside when possible, and staying at home if you have Covid symptoms or a positive test.
This change to booking and seating will take effect next Sunday 5th Sept. If you have any questions or comments then please do speak to a member of the PCC.
Mike Moir – 29th August 2021