St Andrew’s church building has been open now for four occasions for private prayer, and although numbers attending remain small, I know it has been a real comfort to some. And so we move to the next stage: opening the church for a ‘service’. This will first happen on 9 August and will continue through to the end of the month, by which time we are planning further opportunities to worship together, including celebrating Holy Communion.
These summer ‘services’ will simply be Listen & Pray screened in church. We had planned to have the preacher and pray-er deliver their parts ‘live’ but the obligation to wear masks in church has meant a change to our plans as these will make it more difficult to hear people speak (and impossible to lip-read), especially for those of us who have hearing difficulties. However, I hope that some of the disappointment will be assuaged by the fact that myself and Patrick, our new curate, will be present in church to welcome you in person, as well as the assembled group of around 25 people (depending on how many ‘bubbles’ there are): it really will be good to see a few of our church family. 10am has been chosen as that is also when it is suggested that internet-users watch Listen & Pray online so there will be quite a community of us gathered simultaneously!
Sadly, we need to ask you to continue to book to attend anything happening in the church building, in order that we are abiding by all the rules and guidelines sent to us on a worryingly regular basis from the government, the House of Bishops and the diocese of Guildford. The wardens, office team and I long for the day when we can just let everyone come! However, please rest assured that everything we are doing is for the safety of everyone, including the most vulnerable among us.
For the first Listen & Pray in church we want to give priority to those (around 20 or so) whom we are acutely aware have been unable to join in with anything posted on the website as they have little or no access to the internet. The office will be sending invitations to these people on Friday. If you receive one, please ring the office by 1pm on Tuesday 4 August to confirm whether you are able to attend, otherwise, it will be assumed that you do not intend to come.
From Wednesday morning 5 August, can I encourage everyone else who wishes to attend to book themselves and their family in, either using the booking form on the church website or by ringing the office between 9am and 1pm up to and including Friday. The list will close on Friday at lunchtime. Booking enables us both to track and trace and also to set out the chairs in the correct configuration for the particular combination of ‘bubbles’ of people attending for that particular week.
For the following Sundays in August, all are welcome to book for this short service of Listen & Pray, so please be in touch via the website or by phone. It will only be possible to book for the following Sunday and (if booking by phone) during office hours from Monday to Friday lunch-time, when the list for that week will be closed. If you are in any doubt, please ring the Church Office on 01372 842071.
Everyone attending is asked to follow the instructions of the Welcomers and is strongly advised to wear a mask, please. Wearing these is not for our own sake but again to help protect the most vulnerable among us. Please bring your own mask if possible, although a small supply of them will be available. Similarly, please bring your own Bible with you.
Finally, I want to thank all the Warden, Office, Welcomer and Publicity teams (especially Mike Shand), for working so hard to complete these arrangements to enable more of us to meet in church again; it really has been a huge task and I am so grateful to them all. Perhaps you could encourage them too if you see them!
I am very aware this is rather a detailed letter so please, if you are confused, do ring the office, where Rowena will be very glad to help you.