Services and Events
worship from the SEC -
Daily Prayer - Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer (Compline)
Coronavirus updates and resources - Updated 24 September
13th Anniversary for Bishop Mark with interesting link (from the archive)
Church Re-opening (see also Emerging from Lockdown checklist)
I thought it would be useful to remind everyone of the guidance to be followed by those wishing to attend church. We are limited to a total of 17 at each service, so please let me know before attending.
The main guidance to be followed by those attending is detailed below. Please take some time to read this information as the priority is to minimise contact and keep everyone safe. The services will feel quite different from normal and you may decide that you prefer to wait until restrictions can be lifted. There is no pressure on anyone to attend the services, as each individual must assess the risks and make their own decision.
When you arrive at church, you will be asked to:
Government guidance is that if you feel unwell with a high temperature, continuous cough and loss of taste/smell, you should remain at home and self-isolate. You should not attend church in these circumstances. If you are displaying these symptoms on arrival at church, you will be asked to leave.
We are not permitted to sing responses or hymns, but we are allowed to listen to music during the service. There will be no contact during the Peace, or an offertory collection. Donations can be placed in the box on the font.
If you are doing a reading or intercessing, please just stand in your own pew. Likewise, communion will be brought to those who wish to receive it in their own pew. Communicants should receive the bread in their hands. The wine will only be consumed by the Priest.
It is expected that use of the hall will be limited to begin with. However, the toilet will be available for use. Individual users should take responsibility for cleaning surfaces after use, and antibacterial wipes will be provided for this purpose. Paper towels are provided for drying hands after a thorough wash.
We are in an unprecedented situation that is changing daily, so please be prepared for other measures that may arise. We may have to close again at short notice if there is a local lockdown so please feel free to contact me or another Vestry member if in doubt as to whether the services will be running.
A privacy notice has been developed which details how personal information is used for Track and Trace purposes. The notice is on display in the church. The first time you attend church you will be asked to sign the privacy notice so that we know you consent to your details being used solely for this purpose. You will not need to sign the privacy notice on subsequent visits.
While sitting in my mum's garden this week, we noticed that the swallows had all gone, and geese were flying high up in the sky. A combine harvester was whirring up and down the neighbour's field, and the gimmer sales had taken place. We were taking advantage of a lovely Autumn day. At St John's we will celebrate harvest festival on Sunday 11th October. We will not be able to have a harvest meal but can remember all those who are toiling to keep us well supplied with food, and pray for a successful harvest across other nations.
The yearn for normality
With the news of yesterday's restrictions on social movement, limiting us yet again so that we cannot meet in each other's homes, I wondered and continue to wonder on our mental welfare and how we're all bearing up.
Having had a holiday now, in a place where there was no WiFi or mobile reception, deep in the countryside, I came to realise that this constant bombardment of different media is partly to blame for the mental state of so many people. I struggled for the first few days of my holiday with not having any access to WiFi. I couldn't fall back on my 'go to' methods of surfing the internet, or watching BBC iPlayer. I couldn't interact with friends on social media, but discovered by day 4 that this was actually a REALLY good thing for my mental welfare. Our spirituality and the state of our mental health will dictate how well we cope with the issues that life throws at us.
Many people have commented about Lockdown bringing out polarised opposites in the people they meet - either the best, or the very worst. Misogyny, domestic violence, various abuses and suicides have all risen dramatically, and the easing of Lockdown began to see a cautious but a much needed return to the services that help combat these issues. Lockdown in the summer months will be very different to a Lockdown in the winter months. These perennial issues are one reason, I would suggest, that Lockdown is not being imposed as draconianly as it was back in March.
We have also seen regions in England setting tighter restrictions thereby trying to curb the rise of infections in a local area, rather than country wide. I wondered whether we would see a similar method used in Scotland where Caithness for instance could set its own freedoms or restrictions. I have heard people say that Caithness is relatively free of the virus and therefore why couldn't we have more freedoms than elsewhere, but I don't hold to this theory.
We can be as careful as we want, or perhaps we think that only a few people caught the virus, therefore Caithness is 'safe.' We know of one person who caught it in April (according to the Groat) and was hospitalised. I know of at least three other accounts of the virus in March in Caithness, so I don't hold to the theory of Caithness being freer of the virus. I think it was less recorded, and those who caught it and didn't need hospitalisation will never be included in the statistics. The stats for the county are only as muted as they are due to the low population and the distances between residential dwellings. However, these distances mean that we travel more, and when we go somewhere we visit several places because we only want to do one trip out.
Some of us are somehow happy to sit across kitchen tables or meet in a restaurant, talking face to face with less than a metre between us, with others who met with others the day before. My understanding of logic isn't very sure about this. We know that there at least five strains of CoVid. We know that even though we might have had 'it,' we can still carry it and spread it to others. Huddling together, mask or no mask, increases our risk of infection and of those around us.
This is why the guidance given by the Scottish Episcopal Church to Vestries to look at the opening up of the church buildings for services is as stringent as it can be. Adherence to these guidelines - including letting the Vestry Secretaries know if you're coming to church - is paramount for us to keep ourselves and each other as safe as can be.
As I write this, St John's is gearing up for its first physical Sunday service since March, while St Peter's is still working through the proforma required by the Bishop. Physical distancing, the frequent sanitising of hands, the wearing of masks are all required as this is in compliance with government guidelines. There is an updated video by the Scottish Episcopal Church at https://www.scotland.anglican.org/new-version-of-re-opening-guidance-video-released/ which I thoroughly recommend you watch if you are able. A written transcript is included in Outlook.
Even though the buildings are opening up for physical services, worship by post, Facebook and Zoom will not stop. Because there are members who cannot stop shielding, and members who should remain shielded but for whatever reason feel that they must come back to the building. What we do, and whether we felt we were climbing the walls during Lockdown, is tied into our mental welfare as well as our physical health. If, for example, there is one member of your household that really ought to shield due to age, or health, then others in that household really ought to remain with them.
The yearn for normality is huge. Your perspective on whether it's 'safe' to come into the church building may change from day to day. If you're down to read or steward and don't feel it's safe to do so, that's fine - tell me in good time. There is no pressure to do anything that you don't want to do, unless it breaks the law.
As the mornings and evenings begin to draw in, where and how we hold services and what we are allowed to do, especially with the more vulnerable members of the communities are issues that exercise my mind. There is no 'one size fits all.' Our mental welfare is strongly tied into our spirituality and vice versa. Call me on 01847 896403 or email me on email@example.com but whatever you do, don't remain silent and in need of a chat.