This week I wanted to give you updates on a couple of important subjects: the COVID team’s proposals in respect of changes to our COVID restrictions and starting of our new Bible time on Thursday next week.

COVID restrictions

It is the view of the COVID team that we do not now expect any significant changes in respect of the overall situation that we face.  We can expect some changes (e.g. the expansion of the vaccine programme) and case levels will fluctuate up and down. However, the overall climate for the foreseeable future remains the same: there will be many daily COVID cases, but for the vast majority of people the most significant impact of these has been mitigated by the vaccination programme. This means that organisations (including this church) have to make decisions about how we are going to live with COVID. 

We are also very conscious that there are many different views of risk, both within the nation and this church.  There are many who have already left most of the restrictions behind in daily life, and many who are still keeping the disciplines and value the restrictions.  The COVID team are therefore proposing that while it is time to begin to relax some of the restrictions, we proceed cautiously.  We are also aware that the most significant risks come from crowded, poorly ventilated spaces and we will continue to take actions to prevent these on church premises.

We are therefore proposing the following in respect of our ongoing COVID restrictions, which represents a degree of relaxation without going to the lengths that some organisations have:

  • We will continue to ask people not to attend church events if they are ill or in a situation where they should self isolate
  • We will maintain the lowered capacities of rooms on the premises until such time as CO2 monitoring confirms it is OK to raise them (these are currently around 60% of the pre COVID capacities)
  • We will continue to ensure that rooms are as well ventilated as possible, paying due regard to the comfort of groups within them.  We have purchased a carbon dioxide monitor which is a means of assessing the ventilations levels and will ensure ventilation is at levels which the Health and Safety executive have said are appropriate.
  • We will continue to ask people to wear face masks when in shared areas or moving around the building when others are on the premises.  Each group can make their own decision re face masks when in their rooms.  In church, from 26th September, the wearing of face masks will be optional when sitting down, except when singing hymns (when you will be asked to put it back on).  This will be a step towards at some point making the wearing of face masks when seated optional at all times.
  • We will continue to encourage those attending church to leave space on a row between households when seated, and to keep appropriate distances at other times.  We will maintain the current spacing between rows
  • For those for whom maintaining strict restrictions is important, we will continue to have a lower risk zone in church.  In this area strict social distancing will be enforced through seat markings and we will ask that face masks are worn at all times.
  • We will continue to offer hand sanitizer.  Signing in lists for those who wish to benefit from test and trace will continue to be available, but it will be a personal choice whether to do this.

–      With these changes in mind we think it is also time that we can look at meeting inside after church.  So the plan will be to reintroduce coffee in the hall from 26th September and from this point people will be able to leave the church at any exit,          
       although we will continue to ask people behave sensibly as they do so

I hope you will be able to appreciate that we have tried to find balance between the different needs at this time, even if it may not be exactly what you want.  If you have any questions, please do let me know.

Bible Time

Over the last year a number of small groups have been meeting together on Thursdays for fellowship, prayer and study.  In the autumn we are inviting the whole church to come together for a Bible Time to look at the gospel of Mark which will is this year’s Bible Month topic used by many Methodist Churches.  The first sessions are this Thursday, 23rd September in the afternoon and evening. 

Dates: Fortnightly on 5 Thursdays  (23rd September, 7th and 21st October and 4th and 18th November).
Don’t worry if you can’t make them all, recordings will be available on our YouTube channel)

Times: 2.30pm – At church
7.30pm – At church and on zoom
Each session will last about an hour and will mix sharing in larger and smaller groups (although if you want to sit and listen that’s fine).

I first used this material with Cotgrave earlier this year and I was astonished about how much I learned about a book of the Bible I thought I knew well.  So whatever knowledge you’ve got, whether you will be looking at it for the first time  or wanting to go deeper into something you already know, then you will be most welcome.  I hope by the end of the five sessions we will have grown in knowledge, confidence, joy and expectation for discovering God in the Bible.

Harvest Festival

And finally, a reminder that this Sunday is our Harvest Festival at 10.30am.  As last year there will be the opportunity to make a monetary donation to the work of All We Can and a donation of goods to the Friary or the Meadows foodbank.