As you know, we are at the early stages of opening up our churches after lockdown. This Sunday we plan to continue our experiment with a further Parish Communion Service at St Mary’s Easton at 10am which will also be on zoom.
As last time, there will be no singing, greeting each other or refreshments and seating will be socially distanced. We will have music which is recorded by the Choral Scholars of St Martins in the Field which you can sing to (if you are at home and watching on zoom) but in the church we will listen to it (as we might listen to the choir in the cathedral) or engage in melodic humming, which we found worked really quite well last time! Communion will be in one kind only – just bread and I will have to deliver it to those who attend silently. Individuals will come to the altar rail at a time and will stand rather than kneel.
Face coverings are from this coming Saturday 8th August compulsory in church (and not just strongly advisable) not only for congregation members but also (I am sorry to say) for ministers. This means that it may be a little difficult for you to hear what I am saying and I can only apologise for this. I am hoping that we might see some more guidance on this from the national church on this before the weekend. In Itchen Valley Parish, we are trying to find alternative solutions to make the sound clearer. Unfortunately I believe that face screens are not regarded as a satisfactory substitute (despite their widespread use in the retain sector). I do hope that in due course we might be permitted to stand at a distance and speak without a mask (like former President Obama at Senator John Lewis’ funeral) but for now we must follow the guidance.
As you probably know, the government guidance continues to be that those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are over 70 (whether in that group or not) are advised to stay at home as much as possible and if they do go out to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household. In the context of our public services, whilst the PCC is making every attempt both to prepare the building and conduct the service in a way that is covid-secure (in line with the relevant guidance), in deciding whether or not it is the right thing to attend, individuals who are in moderate-high risk categories will need to make their own assessments of the risk to them. But should you decide to attend, you will be very welcome!
If you do plan to attend at St Mary’s Easton on Sunday could you please email Beccy firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know so that we can have a sense of how many people plan to attend and whether our limit of 20 people is likely to be exceeded. Also we will need to retain this information for a short time for track and trace purposes.
With every blessing
Itchen Valley Parish