Reopening of the Church – COVID-19 Safety Information
On June 23rd 2020, the government announced the reopening of churches to begin from July 4th 2020. Whilst our church has already reopened for individual private prayers in the Chapel only, a plan is already in place to reopen the church for the Ecumenical Service, from September 6th 2020. The reopening date for the Catholic Service will be announced later.
As you may be aware, our church has been planning for the reopening since May 2020. You may recall a Newsletter by the Chair of the Ecumenical Council dated May 14th 2020 titled “The Church and COVID-19 Update (1) – Government Easing of the Lockdown Measures”, where our plan for the church reopening first appeared. The Group, mentioned in the Newsletter, was reviewed and replaced, in June 2020, by a new Group called “The Church Reopening Working Group”, consisting of ten members (Fr. Francis, Rev. George, Rev. Ernesto, Peter Cope, Simon Lowson (the Building Manager), Bob Collard, Mark Okor, Penny Keens, Katherine Wheldon and Ade Adeyemi).
The Group has had a few meetings, beginning from June 2020, to develop, agree and implement a plan for a safe reopening of the church, as well as ensuring that all necessary health and safety measures are in place in readiness for the reopening. The Group also carried out a risk assessment exercise to ensure the adequacy of the plan and to reduce the risks of virus transmission within the church building. The emphasis of the plan is on maintaining physical distance and personal hygiene, such as the regular cleaning of hands. Since the implementation of the plan, and as stated above, the church has been reopened for individual private prayers in the Chapel. Also, as stated above, the Ecumenical Service is planned to begin in September 6th 2020. You will be pleased to know that the Living Stones online service will continue to be broadcast on and after September 6th 2020. In fact, we have started looking into how best we can, technologically, improve the delivery of the online church service. We will keep you updated. The Church Reopening Working Group will continue to monitor the safety measures in place in consistence with the guidance from the government, Public Health Authority and the Dioceses.
In the meantime, we would really like you to read the attached document “Reopening for services – Information for the Congregation”. The document is specifically put together to ensure your safety and the safety of others whilst within the church building. We will therefore request you to comply with the recommendations/instructions contained in the document. In addition, the church Stewards would be available to assist worshippers during the (new) normal church service.
We would like to thank all the members of the Church Reopening Working Group for their time and efforts. We would also like to thank Kate Abrahams and Janet Trimnell for their contributions. In particular, our immense ‘thank you’ to Simon Lowson, Peter Cope and Mark Okor for going the extra mile in implementing the agreed health and safety measures.
Finally, we would like to thank you all for your continuing understanding, cooperation and support during this difficult and challenging time. May the grace and the blessings of Almighty God always be with each and every one of you and your family. (Amen).
Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Ade Adeyemi
(Leader, Ministerial Team) (Chair, Ecumenical Council)
Church of Christ the Cornerstone
Re-opening for services
Information for the congregation
We are carefully following government guidelines in ‘COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July’ and have also used additional guidance issued by our parent denominations.
Following a detailed risk assessment, we are very pleased to be able to offer ecumenical worship again in the Cornerstone building, probably starting on Sunday 6th September with a service at 10am.
However, things won’t be quite the same as before. There will be several new practices in place to keep things as safe as possible.
Our on-line services will continue so you have a choice of continuing to worship at home if you prefer.
Please take careful note of the following:
Firstly, please decide if you should attend worship in person, or continue to participate on-line:
- Anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 should NOT come to the building, but stay at home and follow NHS advice.
- If you are self-isolating due to possible contact with the infection, please stay at home.
- Government advice for people who are clinically vulnerable / shielding is that they should not, currently, attend places of worship.
- Government advice for individuals aged 70 or over is that they should take care to minimise contact with people outside their household. Please read the measures that will be in place before deciding if you will attend services.
If you come to worship:
When you first come in:
- SOCIAL DISTANCING – PLEASE REMEMBER TO KEEP 2 METRES AWAY FROM MEMBERS OF OTHER HOUSEHOLDS AT ALL TIMES IN AND AROUND THE BUILDING.
- Please use the hand sanitizer provided (or your own) on entering the building.
- ‘Track and Trace’ – you will be asked to pick up a form and fill in your name and contact details. Please bring your own pen if possible, but single use (quarantined) pencils will also be available. There will be a box to put your completed forms in.
- The use of face masks is strongly encouraged. (The government may give new guidance on this which we will need to follow)
- Please go through to the worship area as soon as possible, without stopping for a chat in the reception area. (Sorry!)
- The chapel, balcony and cloisters will all be closed.
- The doors to the worship area will be fastened open so you don’t have to touch any handles. They will remain open during the service to aid ventilation. (You may need an extra layer of clothing)
When you enter the worship area:
- The stewards will help you with where to sit.
- The chairs will be set out according to 2m social distancing guidelines. There will be some chairs for individuals, there will be some chairs for couples from the same household and there will be some chairs in groups of 3, 4 or 5 for family groups from the same household.
- Please do not move the chairs.
- Everyone will need a seat (no standing)
- The socially distanced lay out of chairs means that the number allowed in the worship area will be strictly limited for each service. The maximum number is being carefully worked out and is likely to be around 55. We will not be allowed to exceed this number.
(Unfortunately, if more than the maximum turn up for a service, the stewards will not be able to let them into the building and the additional people will be sent home. We are very sorry about this. To avoid this, we will be doing a survey in August to see how many people might want to attend a Sunday morning service. If there are more than we can fit in we may need to have a booking system).
- If you will need a space for your wheelchair, or have any other special requirements (eg. a seat where the induction loop works well), please let our administrator know the week before the service (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01908 246480 (leave a message) )
During the service and leaving the building:
- The services will be shorter than usual and there will be no communal singing.
- The Peace will be shared without physical contact
- There will be no sharing of wine during communion
- For some services, there may be a single use service sheet which you are asked to collect on the way in. Please take these home with you or put them directly in the recycle bin available on exit. (There will then be no need for our stewards to touch them.)
- There will be no collection taken during the service. However, there will be a bowl available near the exit for any freewill offering envelopes and donations.
- At the end of the service, please follow the instructions from the pulpit about leaving the worship area so we don’t all try to get out at once!
- We will not be able to serve coffee after the service.
- If you want to have a socially distanced conversation with anyone, please wait till you are outside the building and well away from the doors.
Children and young people:
- Children and young people are welcome at services, but all children should be accompanied by a parent.
- Children should be closely supervised at all times.
- Unfortunately, there will be no toys or books available for children to use due to the risk of infection spread by touching.
- We are sorry, but initially, we will not be able to offer creche facilities or other children/young people’s groups.
- If you need to take a young child out of the service, please go to the entrance hall or outside the front door. The rest of the building (including cloisters and Guildhall) will be closed.
- Toilets will be available in the entrance hall – please see below.
The all important toilets:
- The ladies and gents toilets in the entrance hall will be open
- Only one person at a time is allowed in (except for parents supervising children)
- If it is necessary to queue, please keep 2 metres apart.
- There will be antiseptic wipes available so you can wipe seat / taps /door handles etc. before/after use.
- Please make sure paper towels and used antiseptic wipes go into the bin provided (and not down the loo!)
- The disabled toilet will be kept locked, but is available for use. It would be helpful for regular users to bring their radar keys (though the stewards also have access to a key if you forget!) Please note, to maintain strict hygiene, this toilet is solely for those registered as disabled and their carers.
General measures in place:
The chairs in the worship area will all have been wiped with disinfectant cloths after their last use, if that is within the 3 days that Covid-19 can survive on hard surfaces. Please be assured that extra cleaning regimes are in place, especially for surfaces regularly touched.
Please note that Government regulations / advice can change at quite short notice. The measures above may need to be altered if this happens.