St Mary's News and Information

Working towards safely reopening St Mary’s Wistaston

Working towards safely reopening St Mary’s Wistaston
One of the most emotional things I have had to do in my 22 years of ordained ministry was to put up the posters on the church doors on 17 March 2020 to say that Public Worship had been suspended. It was a very difficult time for all church ministers and there was no precedent for this. As a country, we had to adjust to Lockdown restrictions and as a church, we had to discover new ways of connecting with people and to keep some type of (remote) worship going. This has been challenging, but also rewarding. However, it is now time to work towards safely reopening up our churches and buildings, beginning with St Mary's.

The easing of restrictions
From the 15 June the government has made it permissible for churches to be open for private prayer and for small funerals. However, we are not ready for this yet as we need to be confident that it is safe for all who enter the building. We are working towards this and will open as soon as safely possible. I will let you know when that will be, and the restrictions that will be in place, as soon as we have done the necessary risk assessments and modifications to the building. I am not putting a time scale on this as we have to order and put in place many items. We will only reopen when we are confident that it is safe to so. Many thanks for your patience at this time.

St Mary's will look different
When we do reopen there will be restrictions on how many people can be in the building at any given time, the latest social distancing rules will need to be adhered to and there will be clearly marked places for where people can and cannot sit. We will have hand sanitiser for when you enter and leave and each place where someone has sat will have to be cleaned before someone else can sit there. Face coverings will be encouraged for the safety of others.

Funerals
Once we reopen as per the above, the latest easing of restrictions by the government allows for small funerals to take place. What does a small funeral look like? Alongside the member of clergy, Funeral Director and staff, the government has stated that only the following should attend: members of the person’s household, close family members, or if the these are unable to attend, close friends. At the moment the singing of hymns is not allowed nor the attendance of an organist. Each church will have to decide what is the safe attendance for a funeral based on the size and shape of the church, I will update you on that once we have carried out the risk assessment and modifications to the building.

Weddings
I am hopeful that in the not too distant future small weddings may be able to take place with the same restrictions as above for a funeral, we await the government to make an announcement on that. At the moment weddings can't yet take place.

Baptisms
Baptisms are still not allowed and it may be sometime before we can conduct these again.

Public Worship
The current regulations do not permit any type of worship or congregational gathering for worship, we are still a way off that yet.

Online Worship
Since the suspension of public worship we have had online worship each Sunday and we will continue to do this, perhaps we will continue this even once we are back in church as it's been so popular! Feel free to join us at 10:30am each Sunday on Facebook or YouTube.

The next steps...
Once we have St Mary's opened up again we will assess the Church Hall (although we have no guidance yet from the government about how to do this) and finally St Luke's as the space at St Luke's is quite prohibitive re social distancing and so poses us a greater challenge.

With all best wishes,
Revd Mike (Rector)

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