The Kinsale Union of Parishes – Reopening of Churches (Phase1)
The reopening of churches for public worship at this time is both something of great joy and also something of a challenge. We have been advised by the Bishop to take this slowly and to be careful, and each parish will approach this differently given size and numbers of churches. Of course, for those feeling vulnerable it is important not to feel ‘pushed’ into returning. Also, of course, if you have had any Covid-19 symptoms you must NOT return. As advised by the Bishop, we have a small group who looked at all the church protocols in detail (Jennifer McElroy, Pam Norris and myself all of whom have successfully completed the course commended by the Bishop), and this Parish Covid-19 Group has carried out a thorough risk assessment and drawn up plans to commend to the Select Vestry. The main points are as follows:
- On Sunday 5th July we shall begin by celebrating Holy Communion in the Church of St Multose at 11:30am only, and for the next few weeks.
- We are encouraging at least one Church Warden from the other churches to attend and assist the wardens in Kinsale to learn any lessons that can be transferred to the other churches.
- We are limited to 50 persons for the first 3 Sundays after which the limit is 100. We will NOT have a booking service as it is unlikely that 50 will appear in the first instance.
- Only every other pew can be used and signs will indicate the pews not to be used. Distances have been measured.
- The church will be thoroughly cleaned both before and after services.
- All will have to use sanitisers & bring and take away their own tissues.
- Congregational singing is not permitted but there will be music.
- Because of 7. above there will at first be no Morning Prayer (neither hymns nor canticles can be sung). There will be no choir. The Protocol issued by the House of Bishops makes it very clear that ‘The Eucharist is the central act of Christian worship’.
- The order for Holy Communion will be on a printed sheet which people will collect (not be handed) at the door, and everyone must bring a pen to complete their or their family details in case contact tracing is necessary. Prayer and Hymn books will not be issued. The sheet must be dropped into a box by the door as people leave.
- The Rector will preside at Holy Communion using a smaller table at the steps to the chancel. He will sanitise his hands before and after Communion. Only the Rector will receive the wine (using vessels brought from home and returned to home for thorough washing afterwards). The Bread will be covered by a purificator during consecration. The Rector will wear an approved mask after he has received Communion, and he will then come down to people and distribute Communion to them in their pews (to avoid touching of surfaces or people).
- Some people may not wish to receive Communion and they will be offered a Blessing instead but they will not be touched. Those wearing masks will only be offered a Blessing.
- People will have to arrive slowly so as to avoid ‘bunching up’, so please allow extra time for this, and this will be monitored. People will have to leave slowly by pew and this will be monitored. People may talk to others outside as long as they maintain social distancing.
- The Rector will continue to send out the weekly Reflections for some time to assist those who do not wish to return to church.
- There will be no collection during the service but a basket by the door as people leave.
- Visitors from other countries will be asked if they have fully complied with government regulations here, especially regarding self-isolating.
- Should anyone become ill during a service they should indicate to a church warden and they will be brought to the isolation area at the rear of the church where appropriate procedures will be followed.
- All of this has taken a lot of planning, including obtaining lots of suitable materials and resources, in the last few days. It has reminded the Rector of the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001 when he was part of the planning, as Senior Chaplain HQ Northern Ireland, to look after the 24,000 troops then serving in NI! But no two situations are the same. If we are all careful, take personal responsibility seriously and watch out for each other we shall come through all of this together, as a small part of the Body of Christ here in Kinsale.
Parish Covid-19 Group 2nd July 2020