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Plans for re-opening of St Michael’s
Friday 22nd May 2020
At the time of writing this the Government has not yet given a clear date for when churches can re-open. I think it likely that in the first place permission will be given for churches to be open for private prayer. That will certainly be very welcome. We will, of course, have to exercise due care to follow the rules of “social distancing”.
The question of resuming the public celebration of the Mass will come next. You will appreciate that this can only happen in a limited way at first.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has been in consultation with the Government, and has submitted detailed plans about how best to achieve this. I anticipate that we will get clear general guidance, but obviously each parish will need to see how that guidance can be followed in practice within the restraints of our very different buildings.
We have now a small management team to look after the day to day administration of the parish, you might say that its task is to care for the nuts and bolts. We have been meeting recently to look at safe and manageable procedures for re-opening St. Michael’s.
A review of seating to comply with social distancing indicates that we can accommodate between 70 to 80 people. This number depends upon the makeup of attendees. Family groups can be seated together which enables a higher number, but all are welcome although space initially might be at a premium.
Key to providing a safe and comfortable experience for parishioners is the number, training and reliability of Welcomers. Many of our current Welcomers are ‘mature’ or very young and some may, for good reasons, choose not to engage in the duties the team will now be required to undertake as we navigate this difficult period.
We need new Welcomer recruits. Please let Alison firstname.lastname@example.org know if you are able to offer assistance and at what Mass(es) you could help. We will be providing hi-vis vests and offering masks if requested. We would not expect those coming forward to remain as Welcomers after the current emergency (although you would be very welcome!)
All existing and new Welcomers will be contacted by email with guidance, well in advance of re-opening.
Plans for safe entry and exit of the church have already been drawn up and agreed by the management team.
Briefly, the plan will require at least 3 Welcomers per Mass (more if possible). One to be positioned outside the church (or in porch if wet). This person will manage a controlled flow onwards to 2 further Welcomers inside church, one for each side to guide to seating. All 3 Welcomers will be needed to guide exit arrangements after Mass. More detail will be provided once we have gained our army of Welcomers
Welcomers will concentrate solely on these controls. To avoid infection transmission there will be no ‘order of service’ sheets, newsletters, hymn books, envelopes etc distributed. There will no basket collection during Mass. Collection baskets will be placed on tables as parishioners depart.
I know that we would all love to get back to our normal celebration of the Mass as soon as possible. None of these restrictions is especially welcome, but you will fully understand that, at least for a while, we must accept various limitations to what we do and how we do it.
Meanwhile I would ask you to offer your services as a Welcomers during this emergency period. It is absolutely essential that we have enough Welcomers to ensure safety and good order. I really hope that you will offer your services in this way.
With my love and prayers for each of you