Returning to Onsite Church Services.
Following the latest announcement from the Government allowing for the re-opening of places of worship from the 4th of July. We are delighted to announce that we will be re-opening our church for congregational worship from 12th July 2020. This date is contingent on the successful implementation of the sector specific safety measures outlined by the Government.
We have not made decision based on selfish reasons as it would be much easier and convenient for us to continue holding church services on zoom, however it is important for us to get back to some idea of what the next normal might look like. It is worth noting that we made the decision to close the church before the government imposed this on churches and the decision to reopen has been carefully thought through.
Our decision has been based on the following three main values:
- Love for the church
- Government advice
- Medical/Scientific advice
What seemed like a distant threat at the beginning of 2020 has become a present reality, changing lives and the way we live. Some adapted easily to life under lock-down while others have found the experience hugely traumatic and damaging to their mental health. Many have also had to navigate the tricky waters of grief which has been made harder due to the pandemic lock-down restrictions. Therefore we must be aware of those who have not been able to grieve properly.
As a result of Covid-19 some restrictions and social distancing measures are highly likely going to be part of our normal life for many months to come until such a time when an effective vaccine or therapeutic drugs will be developed and deployed to the majority of the population. The most vulnerable, including those over the age of 70, are likely to be the last to be able to fully reintegrate into society. That means that our usual life together is not likely to get back to normality until probably the middle of 2021 at the earliest and perhaps for much, much longer.
This presents a huge challenge to our church spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. We are of course as individuals secure in God’s love and yes, the Church of Jesus Christ will continue and “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:16). However, church life as we know it will be different for a long time and rather than being fearful of this, we have an opportunity to shape how we will live through the pandemic and emerge stronger on the other side.
We had to prayerfully make the decision to keep the church doors shut and now the decision has been made to reopen our church. Considering most of life and its activities are reopening; pubs, department stores, restaurants etc. I dare say, many church members have been food shopping, working and seeing family members. I believe as faith people we also need to prayerfully consider our return to fellowship and the public witness of our faith. Many of our members have been working in challenging situations and we thank the Lord for His protection. However, each person would have to prayerfully consider their position and ask the question: “What Would Jesus Do?”
We do not intend to override any existing guidance or advice, therefore, we urge those who are in the vulnerable categories, either due to underlying health conditions or age to continue to adhere to any specific advice and guidance issued to them.
As a church we will continue to support you for as long as is necessary, until such a time when you are able to attend church services in person. We will look into additional or alternative worship provisions that can be implemented for those affected; one of the options being the live streaming of church services.
Over the last couple of weeks a team led by our head of security and our health and safety officers conducted an in depth risk assessment of our place of worship. Below are some of the measures that they have adopted and implemented to ensure that our return is safe and compliant to the advice from the Government.
We will primarily adopt a one-way system in the church movement. Barriers and signage will be set up to ensure that brethren are directed in a one-way system throughout the church.
• Orderly lines observing social distancing will be formed as temperature checks are carried out and hand sanitisers are dispensed
• The use of hand sanitisers will be compulsory on entering the building.
• A temperature check will be taken by trained operatives.
• All visitors are to be registered at the reception.
• Ushers to guide people to their seats.
• Doors will be left open so that handles are not constantly touched by multiple people.
• If the door needs to be kept closed, a designated usher will open and close the door while wearing gloves.
Inside doors will be kept open so that any potential transmission of this virus is kept minimal. When service begins, the doors will be shut to stop any noise transmission to the outside public.
For the foreseeable future, we are discouraging handshakes, hugs and/or kisses as means of welcoming people to worship and other activities.
Seats have been arranged in order to deliver the government guidelines on social distancing. Families or households will be encouraged to sit together or in their bubbles.
Ushers will be at hand to offer guidance where the seating arrangements are not feasible.
Members will be required to wear masks/face coverings at all times while in the building.
Where possible we would encourage you to continue to give your tithes and offerings electronically, either by bank transfer or online through our website. However, if you are not able to do so, you will be able to give either by cash, card, or cheques.
• Envelopes will be made available to facilitate this.
• The practice of passing the buckets along rows will NOT take place for the foreseeable future.
• The finance team will ensure that all cash handling is done safely and will adopt the use of the necessary PPE.
Praise & Worship
Due to the heightened risk of transmission associated with the expressive nature of Charismatic worship, we are encouraging the congregation not to sing out vocally, shout or raise their voices.
We will remain seated. Worship can continue in our hearts for the glory of God.
The upstairs toilet doors are to be kept ajar and members will be encouraged to use these toilets as they are more spacious and allow us to manage social distancing.
• One person at a time will be allowed in the toilet downstairs due to space.
• Blow dryers to be isolated and paper towels used instead.
• The number of people using the toilets upstairs will also be controlled to ensure that social distancing is maintained.
Leaving Church after service
The one-way system will be employed in leaving the church. There will be an orderly exit from the church premises. No cross-family group conversations will be encouraged inside of the church building.
Children will strictly NOT be permitted to run around in the church after service and should always be under the direct supervision of their parents within the church premises.
Ushers will direct people out of the church in sequential order towards designated exit doors.
Christian Life Centre take seriously its responsibilities to its members, therefore, the following additional measures will be put in place:
• No tea and biscuits will be served before or after meetings.
• We encourage all our members to wear face covering (mask) to church.
• Masks and gloves will be provided by the church for all volunteers on duty: ushers, Multi-media, Levitical, etc.
• We will continue to conduct our Wednesday meetings on zoom, including leaders meeting, departmental meetings, trustees meetings etc.
• Those with underlining health issues are advised not to attend church.
• Each member will apply hand sanitiser on entering the building before they will be allowed permission into the main auditorium.
• Each department will be responsible for the cleaning of their working areas.
• Mics will be sanitised by sound and lighting team.
Other Issues to be addressed
Below are some activities which will be kept under continuous review and regular updates will be provided on an ongoing basis:
• Children’s Church
• Youth Meetings (Future)
• Sunday morning prayers
• Wednesday Bible studies
• Cleaning routines
• The use of the building for other activities
We are believing that our members and visitors will comply with these changes that we have had to put in place. Your cooperation in maintaining a safe environment is vital as CLC tries to follow government advice/legislation.
Apart from our Sunday meetings, there will not be any other services in the church building.
Important Government Guidelines Below:
• Religious leaders, lay people, family, volunteers, staff and members of the public, including children, must stay at home and self-isolate if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of or change to sense of smell or taste. This is to minimise risk of spread of COVID-19 to friends, the wider community, and particularly the vulnerable.
• Individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
• If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance. If they need clinical advice they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
Other people who may have been in contact with the person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms they should follow the stay at home guidance.
There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness.
These actions should include:
Test and trace
The government has launched an NHS Test and Trace service to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging.
• provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of Coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
• gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
• alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus
Further information can be found online including contacts of people with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection who do not live with the person.
What leaders can do to help prevent the spread of infection
Faith leaders should consider and adopt the guidance above and seek to include changes that could be made to religious rituals that usually involve close contact between individuals. All use of shared objects and food items should be prevented to limit the spread of infection.
Certain groups of people are at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19. These Include:
• aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
• under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
• chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• chronic kidney disease
• chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
• chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
• a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
• being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
• pregnant women
You may wish to inform these groups, in particular, of the symptoms of COVID-19 and current stay at home and social distancing guidance, and strongly discourage them from attending faith gatherings during this time or set aside a time for them to attend for individual prayer.