Worship Onsite – COVID Autumn 2021

September 19th – December 19th 2021

We are delighted to be able to move forward in our worship together. The government has lifted Covid 19 restrictions and the responsibility for arrangements around worship and the use of buildings now lies with individual churches. In our parish, as throughout society, there is a range of views regarding risk. As we move into the autumn and winter many people are finding real joy in re-taking familiar routines and many are wishing to remain cautious. We hope that we can be a part of that joy through the diversity of services offered in this season, and that people will feel able, in their own time, safely to return to worshipping together.

The legal responsibility for the ordering of public worship lies with the incumbent and Felicity has worked with staff teams, PCC and listened to the views of congregation members. Thank you for your contributions.

In a culture of more individual choice and personal responsibility we would like to echo the Bishop of London, who chairs the Church of England’s Recovery Group:

“Taking personal responsibility means responsibility for our neighbour, not just for ourselves, and taking precautions to protect those more vulnerable than we consider ourselves to be.”

In making these decisions we want:

  • To ensure our churches are as inviting, accessible and safe as possible for anyone to worship together, either onsite or online.
  • To have special regard for all those who are more vulnerable to covid 19 and its effects, physically or mentally and to make sure that anyone who is feeling anxious or cautious about the lifting of restrictions is not discriminated against.
  • To recognise that ‘one size does not fit all’ and so offer a range of different opportunities and styles of worship across our three churches and online.

For some of us, these measures won’t go far enough. For others, they represent a lifting of restrictions that will cause anxiety. Please know that all of you are prayed for here in your church, whatever your views or circumstances, and that we are committed to making our way through these next few months together as we have travelled together so far.

From September 19th until December 19th we will:

  • Offer a diverse range of worship on Sunday mornings and at other times including ‘Open Space’, ‘All Together’, ‘Sing to the Lord’, Choral Evensong, and other musical opportunities.
  • Continue to encourage congregation members to wear masks
  • Provide a choice of seating, in rows or distanced
  • Provide laminated cards to indicate people’s wish to remain distanced
  • No longer require advance booking for services
  • Encourage all to scan in using the QR code
  • Open doors and windows for appropriate ventilation
  • Cease cleaning the building before and after each event
  • Continue to sing as a congregation, wearing masks if possible
  • Increase the amount of lay participation in services
  • Offer some entirely said Sunday services and some with a reduced amount of sung music
  • Offer some services at St Mary’s with a bigger choir and increased amount of music on Sunday mornings, and for evensong.
  • Offering communion in one kind and with the option of receiving wine through intinction (done for you by the priest).
  • Encourage people to take refreshments outdoors if possible (and at St Mary’s Kidlington use church space, not refectory)
  • Continue to offer online worship

These protocols also apply (as appropriate) to baptisms, weddings and funerals.

We will pay attention to the levels of Covid 19 in the local area and to national policies, amending these protocols if it seems appropriate.

With these safeguards in place, we hope that you will wish to join us for worship when it feels right for you to return to the buildings. 

Felicity, Martin, and Susy; Chris Tupling (Health and Safety Officer)

If you have not yet attended worship on site you might be wondering what our churches look like, with a choice of seats in rows or more distanced. Scott has kindly taken photos of St Mary’s Kidlington so that you can see how it looks at the moment – but of course we do move chairs around for different events.

Towards the front are seats in rows, a little more spaced out than before Covid but where people can sit together and feel connected. Towards the rear and at the side of church the seats are distanced in ones, twos and threes with good space between them. With no advance booking and no seating plan any more you are free to come when you feel able and to choose where feels most comfortable for you to sit. We also have laminated cards to use if you would like to be sure that people do not come and sit too close to you.