Coronavirus update from St Mark’s – September 11th 2020

Rachel outside St Mark's

I wanted to write and let you know the current plans for church services and other activities at Pennington Church. As ever this season, these plans are all subject to latest government guidance, and may change at short notice if guidance or local restrictions change.

Sunday Services

From Sunday 20th September the following services will be taking place across the parishes of Pennington and Lymington

  • 8am – Book of Common Prayer Communion Service – at St Thomas Church
  • 9am – In the building service at St Mark’s Church, also to be streamed online
  • 10am – Joint online specific service
  • 11am – In the building service at St Thomas Church

Information for 9am Service at St Mark’s Church

On the first Sunday of the month this will be a service of the word, Morning Praise, and on all other Sundays this will be a Common Worship Communion service. From October, on the third Sunday of the month this will be a Common Worship traditional language communion service.

We will have one service in the building per week.(If we were to have services more than once every 72 hours, there is a significant increase in the cleaning that is required to make this possible.) Our aim is therefore to take steps to hold one service that can run safely, and to all gain our confidence in this happening.

If you have any symptoms of covid, please do not come to the church building.

There are a few things that will be different when you come to a service at St Mark’s

  • Entrance will be through St Mark’s Room, including hand sanitiser station and collecting track and trace contact details (which will be held for three weeks).
  • Face coverings are required in a place of worship
  • Congregational singing is not allowed
  • Distribution of communion will take place outside at the end of the service
  • We need to adhere to social distancing. To help with this we have markings on the floor outside the church and inside. You will be directed to your seat as you come in, with those arriving first being seated at the front of church. At the end of the service, we will leave from the back rows first. Given social distancing and seating, there will be a maximum number of people that can attend worship. At St Mark’s Church, this is up to 34 small house holds. If the church is full we will not allow additional people to enter, and you will need to join in the service online.
  • We will not be opening the toilet or kitchen (except in an emergency!)

We need to ensure that our church building continues to be a safe space for people to gather, to worship and pray together. To help with this, we are also reducing some of the roles and activities that would usually be part of our worship. Within current guidelines, we won’t be having acolytes, robing choir, flowers, refreshments or hymnbooks within our services, and we need to keep those in the vestry to a minimum – this will be restricted access for clergy, technical, organist and churchwardens only.

If you think you need to enter the church outside of a service time, to help in anyway, please discuss this with Teresa or Eve our churchwardens, or with me, to book a time. Even if you have a key to access the church, please do not do so without first confirming your time and purpose for the visit.

We will continue to share our church services online, and encourage you to make the choice that is right for you, about whether to come to the building or to join us from home.

Special Services and Events

On 4th October, we will have our harvest service at 9am. However, we will not be able to follow this with a harvest lunch. We will however continue to have a collection of food items for the basics bank. If you have been collecting coins at home for the work of St Mark’s Church, please bring your boxes into church on 4th October.

On Monday 12th October, 7pm, our APCM will take place on zoom. If you are unable to join us online and would like to join the meeting via a link in St Mark’s Church building, please contact Maureen Barnard.

Activities

St Mark’s Community Hall is now re-opened, and some of the groups that book the hall have returned to their activities. We are currently reviewing with the PCC, the activities organised by St Mark’s Church, to determine what might be possible and when. The churchyard working group, that meets on the first Thursday in the month in the churchyard is starting to meet again outside, with those involved bringing their own refreshments and tools to the churchyard.

At this time, Friendship Lunch, Messy Church, Coffee Morning and Strictly Come Crafting are not yet able to start. We will continue to review what is possible. We recognise it is difficult that many of our social activities are not yet able to reconvene, and the challenge of isolation for many of us. However, we are also balancing this with the guidance around distancing and hospitality within a communal space, and how to do this safely.

Covid vulnerability

The current government guidance for those at moderate risk from covid, clinically vulnerable, including those over 70 is that it is very important to follow the general advice on social distancing. This includes trying to stay at least 2m away from anyone you do not live with or anyone not in your support bubble. If you’re at moderate risk from coronavirus, you can go out to work (if you cannot work from home) and for things like getting food or exercising. But you should try to stay at home as much as possible. (www.nhs.uk)  If you are a volunteer in any of the at risk groups, before volunteering in any capacity within the church, you will need to discuss this with myself or our churchwardens.

Finance

In these unusual times, the work of the church continues, even though our regular pattern of services and events is disrupted. Apart from the cost of heating the church, very few of our outgoings are affected by this. A few people have asked what they can do to support us. Please continue to keep giving to the church. If your usual pattern is to give via weekly envelopes, please contact Teresa Nivison, 07541 842025 to arrange monthly collection. If you are able to consider giving via our planned giving scheme, which allows you to set up a direct debit, please also contact Teresa, or register online at parishgiving.org.uk with our Parish Code: 416011301

For some in our congregation, this season you have continued to receive the same income, with outgoings perhaps being less with holidays and meals out not currently being possible. Whilst for others in our congregation, this season has brought with it financial insecurity, threat of redundancy, and significant challenges. Please prayerfully discern what you are able to offer. Nationally, across the Church of England, there are huge financial challenges, and this is true in this Diocese too. If we want our churches to persist, to continue to have clergy leading our ministry, we need to pray together, to work together, and financially to support the work of the church.

HeartEdge – Being With Course – Mondays 10:30-12:00 or Wednesdays 6-7:30

We are piloting the new Being With Course. This is an opportunity for those wishing to explore the Christian faith for the first time, this wishing to be baptised or confirmed this year and those wanting to explore Christianity within the particular inclusive theology that we share. It’s a ten week course, that will take place on zoom online. As we join the HeartEdge network, and are one of the few churches across the country that have been invited to pilot this course, we’d love you to join the conversation, whether you are new to the church or have been a part of our community for years. Please email vicar@penningtonchurch.uk to book a place.

Other Information

If you’re not already, please sign up on our website penningtonchurch.uk to receive our email newsletter and regular updates. Please hold us all in your daily prayers.

I want to thank you all for your patience, your support and encouragement for each other. I really look forward to  seeing you again soon, either in the building, or online. Remembering our strapline ‘inspiring love for everyone’, my hope is that we can continue to find ways to be welcoming, to connect, to inspire hope and love.

My prayer is that through this season, we will grow in love, hope, courage and peace, and continue to find creative ways to care for each other through this season, while keeping ourselves and each other safe.

With my daily prayers

Rev Rachel Noël,

Priest in Charge

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