Upcoming services are as follows:
Sundays in August: ‘Ice-cream Sundays’
Services will follow a theme with readings, hymns, prayers, and Holy Communion inside the church for those who wish to stay on at the end of the service. Ice-Creams, served in Covid-safe fashion, will be served after the service.
8th August 10.30am Chaddleworth
15th August 10.30am Fawley
22nd August 10.30am Great Shefford
29th August No service in West Downland as Miri is on holiday over the Bank Holiday. There is an open invitation to join East Downland for their United Benefice Service in Peasemore.
Confirmation Service in Leckhampstead – Sunday 5th September
Bishop Olivia will be visiting Leckhampstead to celebrate the completion of the church re-roofing project. Festivities will begin at 3pm with a tile fixing ceremony, followed by afternoon tea and will conclude with a Celebration & Confirmation Service. This will be a United Benefice Service and all are warmly invited to attend.
Moving to Step 4 of the Government Road Map Out of Lockdown.
St Paul writing to the church in Corinth:
“We are allowed to do anything,” so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. “We are allowed to do anything”—but not everything is helpful. None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.
“Well, then,” someone asks, “why should my freedom to act be limited by another person’s conscience? If I thank God for my food, why should anyone criticize me about food for which I give thanks?”
Well, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for God’s glory. Live in such a way as to cause no trouble either to Jews or Gentiles or to the church of God. Just do as I do; I try to please everyone in all that I do, not thinking of my own good, but of the good of all, so that they might be saved.
1 Corinthians 13: 23, 29a- 33.
In step 4 we are being asked to behave responsibly, to adhere to self-isolation rules and to make carefully considered decisions about face-coverings, social distancing etc. Some of us are excited at the prospect of “no more government diktat” while others are deeply anxious about the potential risks to ourselves, our family and friends, and to the wider world. The challenge for us, as we establish a new pattern of church life, is to create an environment where freedom is celebrated, but the freedom of one person does not compromise the well-being of another. The early church in Corinth faced a similar dilemma. One group in the church believed that because of the freedom gifted to us by Christ through his death on the cross, meat offered as a sacrifice in the pagan temples of the time could not taint them, soul or body, and so they were free to eat it. Another group believed that the origin of this food had so deeply compromised the goodness of it that it was spiritually harmful to those who ate it and appeared to condone, or even suggest participation in, pagan worship. St Paul addressed the dilemma, coming down firmly on the side of those who believed Christ’s victory over sin promised freedom, but arguing that the Christian duty to ‘love one another’ extends to compromising personal freedom for the sake of those who are of ‘tender conscience’ so as to build up the church and bring glory to God.
With this important principle of church life in mind, and with the help of the Continuity Planning Group, and support of the Churchwardens, I have produced an updated framework for use in our church buildings and services. The key points are covered in the following FAQs.
Will I need to book a seat and wear a mask for church services?
Congregations will no longer be required to book seats.
All those entering the church are requested to wear a face covering except when seated or in an area set apart for refreshments and with no ‘passing traffic’.
Churches will be zoned to provide an area of seating at the front of the nave for those who wish to wear a face covering and to ensure that those leading the service, reading or making announcements from the chancel step, are socially distanced (at least 2m) from members of the congregation who are not wearing face coverings. Seating in this area will be in alternate pews and those who do not wish to have others seated in their pew may request a card to place in the seat beside them. Those choosing to sit in this area will be expected to retain their face masks throughout the service except during Holy Communion.
Seating for those who do not wish to wear a face covering will be at the west end of the nave. Cards will also be available to them if they wish to be socially distanced from others in their row. However, if these rows are filled to capacity it is expected that those arriving later may be required to wear a face covering and/or sit in an alternative seat.
Will we be singing hymns in church?
Singing in church is permitted but aerosol transmission poses a greater risk of infection than speaking. As singing is such an important part of worship for many people, and given the popularity of open air services, Sunday services in August will include an open air element with singing and will conclude with Holy Communion inside the church. Orders of service and hymns will be available to download from the weekly email.
Will there be any changes to the way that we share Holy Communion?
Holy Communion in one kind (the bread) will be brought to those in the face covering zone as they remain in their seats (just the same as during the past year). When all those wearing face coverings in their seats have received the bread of Holy Communion the priest will move to a well ventilated part of the church and those without face coverings will be invited to process forward to receive the bread. Please note that masks should be worn while processing to/from Holy Communion.
Will there be a Collection?
We are grateful that we have willing volunteers who take responsibility for running our churches. Their safety and good health is important and, as donations through the Parish Giving Scheme, and by bank transfer, cashless card reader etc are the safest methods of giving, please consider making your gifts by one of these methods. Collections during services are now permitted but cash donations will be locked in the church safe for 48 hours and then counted so that our volunteers do not face unnecessary risks.
Will there be coffee after services and will there be Café Church?
August Sundays are ‘Ice-Cream Sundays’ so there will be ice-cream after each service. The service on 22nd August will be Café Church style with refreshments.
How can I help?
1. Make every effort to be sensitive to the feelings and views of others. Assume that social distancing is the norm and ask before moving in for elbow bumps, handshakes or hugs. This feels strange, but is an important part of ensuring that everyone feels comfortable in our services.
2. Scan the QR code, or sign in on the test and trace list when you arrive at church and use hand sanitizer when you enter or leave. The numbers are low in our area. Let’s keep it that way!
3. Please contact your local church warden to volunteer your time as we ‘wake up’ our church buildings. It is important that we keep the churches clean, tidy and well ventilated so cleaners and church key holders are needed as well as readers for services.
What about christenings, weddings and funerals?
Each of these services will require a bespoke Risk Assessment. Miri will work on these with the families involved. If someone asks you about the ‘rules’ for a family event please bear in mind that each service will be considered in its own right and send people on to Miri.
Any other questions?
I hope that this has covered most of the pressing questions on people’s minds. If there is anything that you are uncertain about please email Miri or send your question using the contact form on this web site.