If you are considering coming to a service in our churches, or have a relative living in one of the villages in our parish, you may well be wondering about what our plans and preparations are regarding Coronavirus.
In brief, we’re following the guidance of the Church of England, who in turn have taken advice from the Government and Public Health authorities. But we are also beginning to consider how we can support our communities properly in the event of an outbreak here or nearby. Below we have listed some of the things we are doing, and some which we are already thinking about, should things change. If you have any questions or are worried, please do feel free to contact us. You can use the contact us page or give us a ring at the parish office.
What we are already doing:
We have introduced either handwashing with soap (in Shrewton and Maddington Church Room) or use of alcohol hand gel for every church gathering on our premises. We’d like to encourage everyone who comes to a service or event with us to use hand gel or was their hands thoroughly as they arrive and before they leave.
When we exchange The Peace with one another we’re encouraging people not to shake hands or exchange a kiss. Many are simply greeting one another with words, some are using the ‘elbow bump’, and others may even choose to use BSL to sign their greeting.
When we prepare the altar for Holy Communion we are using alcohol hand gel to make sure our hands are clean before and after Communion. We are also encouraging those preparing for Communion services to do the same.
We have explained to our congregations that you can receive Holy Communion ‘in one kind’ ie. just the bread or just the wine. We will not ‘intinct’ (dip) a wafer in the wine, and we will not place wafers onto the tongue of a member of the congregation.
Those who do not wish to receive from the Chalice (also referred to as the ‘Common Cup’) are welcome to come up to receive the bread only.
What we are already thinking about:
We may decide to stop serving refreshments at meetings or after services.
We may cease using the Chalice entirely for the services of Holy Communion
We may begin to use ‘single use’ hymn sheets and service sheets
We may stop passing around the collection plate/bag
Other things we are taking into account:
In addition, we want to continue to be as present and supportive to our communities as ever. So other things we are exploring are how we can ensure people do not become isolated should they, or those who usually care for them, become ill. We cannot do this work on our own, of course, and so we are talking to others in our local community to find the best way ahead.
We are also keen to encourage everyone in the community, of whatever age, to think carefully about who they might call upon should they be in need of assistance; and who in turn might value their phone number for reassurance and support from them should they need it. This is something we can all do, and will make us stronger as a whole community regardless of the development of Coronavirus here.
Finally, we are thinking ahead to those significant life events that people mark with us, in the Church. At this point, marriages, funerals and baptisms can continue as normal. Should this change, we will be thinking of how we can usefully delay services (in the case of Marriage or Baptism), or find a compromise (in the case of funerals) which will help those people and families concerned.
We want to share all of this with you not to cause panic or alarm, but to reassure you that we are thinking about all eventualities so that we are best prepared. If you have any questions about things we have not covered here, please do feel free to get in touch.