18 December 2021
Once again, we find ourselves at an uncertain time as we look forward to Christmas with all the hope, joy, anticipation and expectation that comes with it. Anxiety seems to be cranking up about the new variant based on its transmissibility, but still great uncertainty about the severity of disease it may or may not cause. Unlike last year, Government and Church have so far left it to individuals to decide for themselves about how best to manage their own risk in each situation. The advice so far seems to be to prioritise the most important events and gatherings in order to reduce contact with others.
For church leaders this is difficult - we are asked to make decisions - do we cancel services at this hugely important time in our church calendar to ensure 100% safety, or do we remain open and risk a potential increase in transmission within our congregations? So far the official guidance is for clergy to make their own judgements about safety. With this in mind, Revd. Sue and I are both in agreement that, for now, we should continue with our planned services with full precautions of face- coverings, good hand hygiene, good ventilation and social distancing.
Our churches are large, well-ventilated buildings with lots of space, and generally our congregations are of a size which allows plenty of distancing. We have good hygiene measures in place in each church and virtually everyone is used to wearing masks (spare masks are available in each church). Our assessment is that, so far, it is safe to meet for worship and refreshments so long as we are careful and don’t cluster together too closely in social situations, and we would encourage everyone who wishes to come to church as usual. We ask everyone wears a face-covering even for congregational singing to prevent droplet and aerosol spread. Most importantly, unlike last year at this time, of us are also triple-vaccinated whcih seems to be the key defence in all of this.
However, we also recognise that some of our number are particularly vulnerable and anxious about the current situation, and we fully support those who feel that they would be more comfortable staying away from events - please don’t come to church because you feel you ought to if you are uneasy about it. We want everyone to feel safe and supported in making up their own minds about this. If you need to speak to Rev Sue or myself, then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call us. We will be assessing the situation very closely and will update you all as new advice is issued.
With our prayers,
Rev’ds Andrew and Sue