I do hope that you are enjoying the summer and the positive effects of the lessening of Covid-19 restrictions. We continue to pray for patience and strength for those of you still waiting to meet up with loved ones; for example, those who live abroad.
I am writing to inform you of the decisions which I have taken with the clergy and wardens of St Andrew’s Oxshott to enable us to move into the new normal, whilst keeping us safe and loving the most vulnerable or anxious. Thank you for your patience with us. In all our decisions we have borne in mind these verses from Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, which I commend to you:
‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to freedom.
But do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:
” Love your neighbour as yourself.”‘ (Galatians 5.13-14)
As there are quite a number of separate points to pass on, I have set them out in a list with side-headings to enable you to refer to them as necessary.
Please note that these guidelines come into effect on 15 August.
The current pattern of one 10am service alternating between a traditional or an Oxshott Praise style will continue for August. The Listen & Pray section will be live streamed, and the Communion will not.
The current booking system is now suspended both for private prayer on Wednesdays and for the service on Sunday at 10am. Please feel free to come.
One way system, Hand sanitizer, Q.R. code
We will retain all of these. Please sign in using the church QR code if possible, so that we can contact you if there is a case of Covid-19 discovered. Please also use the hand sanitizer. The one-way system will be retained.
Masks and Singing
Please continue to wear masks as you enter or move around the building (including when you come up for Communion). Singing for everyone will be re-introduced. However, we ask that everyone in church should wear a mask whilst standing and singing. Those taking any part in services will continue to wear masks except when actively leading or speaking.
Seats will be returned to a more normal configuration. The church building will be divided into ‘zones’, with an area of socially distanced seating to the north side and an area towards the south-door where those who do not wish to wear a mask will be directed. Those least happy mixing will sit on the left and towards the back in wider-spaced seats. The welcomers will direct you.
There will also be a supply of ‘Reserved’ signs available to pick up and place on the seats either side of you to help you feel safer. However, please make use of the zones too.
Administration of Communion
We are pleased to offer Communion in both kinds in two alternative ways, using two separate stations:
- Wafers intincted (dipped) by the priest into the wine will be available at the chancel steps, where recipients will stand in a line along the step (suitably spaced out)
- Wafers and then wine from a common cup will be offered at the steps of the former lady chapel, similarly in a row along the step and standing
Everyone will move forward in a line down the central aisle, before making a choice either to carry on to join the row at the chancel step, or to move to the right (south) to form a row there. This sounds more complicated than it is: the welcomers will direct you!*
We want to encourage everyone who wishes to linger after the service outside. Until September, we would like to encourage you to bring refreshments (for example, a flask of coffee) ready to share. If the weather is good, please bring picnic rugs to sit on the grass or use the new benches on the terrace.
Provision for Children
We welcome families to attend church, but we are unable to provide separate provision during August. From September, we plan to provide children’s activities from the Oxshott Praise service.
Lateral Flow Tests
Many (especially children) are used to using these ahead of meeting up with others. Can I encourage you to use these on a weekly basis before attending Church?
I will write a further Pastoral Letter at the end of August giving information about Services from September onwards. Meanwhile, I hope these guidelines will bring joy and encourage you to come!
Under the current circumstances, the clergy of St Andrew’s Oxshott (myself, Patrick and Jolyon) would all prefer to offer wine at Communion in small individual cups, to enable everyone to participate more fully in Communion in two kinds. However, this has been expressly forbidden by the Church of England. The wardens are writing to represent our view to the bishop.