new headings for Connect (22)

St T’s Response to Step 4 of the Government Roadmap to Recovery: 25 July – 5 Sept 2021 


Context: During July, Covid case numbers have been high in Lancaster, but we hope these will begin to fall now that schools have closed for the summer.  The government has lifted most legal restrictions, but has encouraged caution and personal responsibility in their place.   As a church, we balance the desire to enjoy long-awaited freedoms with our duty of care towards one another, and so after careful deliberation with staff and PCC, we are recommending a phased approach to stepping into greater freedom during the summer.   
Masks: According to government guidance, masks are ‘expected and recommended in crowded indoor settings’ so we too will recommend the wearing of masks (apart from those who are medically exempt) while in church.  As in schools, these recommendations apply to those of secondary school age upwards.   

Our recommendation is that we wear masks when moving around the building, or when standing e.g. to sing, but that we should feel free to remove them whilst sitting in our seats.   

Singing: we will re-introduce congregational singing from 25th July, while encouraging people to wear masks while doing so.   

Hygiene measures: The following hygiene measures will remain in place: 

  • Hand-sanitiser will be provided and recommended at entrances and exits. 
  • Surfaces will be wiped between services with disinfectant. 
  • Windows and doors will remain open for ventilation. 
  • Risk assessments will be updated to reflect these latest practices.   


Social distancing:  Seating will continue to be provided in rows situated 1m+ apart.  The welcome team will continue to encourage us to sit with 2 empty seats or an aisle between us and the next household, as this gives 1m+ social distancing.   

‘Please leave this chair free’ signs are available to download here to print at home, and there will be additional copies available to collect from the foyer for those who wish to ensure that the neighbouring seats are kept free to preserve social distancing.  

Indoor mingling:  Although indoor mingling is now permissible under government guidelines, we will continue to encourage us all to do the majority of our socialising outdoors.  We will encourage those who are clinically vulnerable to feel free to head outside during the last song if they wish.   

Booking system:  We will finish with the Church Suite booking system from 25th July onwards.  That means you will no longer need to book to come to church services.  The exception to this is that we will continue with a booking system for children attending DVD sessions at 11am on 1, 15, and 29 August, with a capacity of 15 pre-booked family groups each week.  See below for more information.    

Test and Trace: We are no longer required to take names and contact details for NHS Test and Trace, although the government recommends that we continue to check in using the NHS Test and Trace app.  Posters displaying the relevant QR code will be displayed in the church for those wishing to do so, or if you do not have the app but wish to sign in, you may do so using the clipboard provided in the foyer.  We will not be asking for proof of vaccination or the NHS Covid-Pass to attend church services.   

However, if you would like to attend public worship and are particularly concerned about attending church services where people who have not been vaccinated will be present (including children and young people), please contact us to see what support we can offer you, on admin@st.tees.org.uk.  A new mid-week service will be starting up at 12noon on Thursdays from 5th August, and this might provide a quieter alternative for some.   

Communion:  We will continue to offer communion in one kind only (wafers), which we will deliver to you in your seats to minimise movement around the building.  We do not recommend returning to the common cup for the time being.  You will not be asked to wear a mask while receiving communion, though those administering communion will do so as they move around the building.  Administrators will sanitise their hands before administering communion.   

Peace: We will continue to share the peace by waving from our seats, rather than hugging and hand-shaking. 

Refreshments: Due to hygiene issues and team recruitment issues, we are not currently recommending the return of regular refreshments (tea and coffee) after services.  

Online streaming: We will continue to stream our 11am and 7pm services on YouTube as now, so that we have a full online offer available for those not ready or able to join us in church.  

children-745674 1920
Provision for Children: 
 

At 9am, we will have activity packs for children to do during the sermon, and toys in the upstairs room for parents/carers to take younger children out to as and when they want to. You do not need to book to come to 9am during the summer. 

At 11am, we have 4 All Age services: 25th July, 8th August, 22nd August, and 5th September.  Children and families will be able to join in with worship, teaching and prayers with the rest of the congregation. You do not need to book to come to All Age services during the summer. 

At 11am, we also have 3 services where children will start and finish in church, but go out to watch a DVD during the sermon: 1st August, 15th August, 29th August.  

We are able to supervise children age 4-11 (those starting primary school in September and all those who have been at primary school this year). Children need to be booked into these sessions - please book one family ticket and tell us how many children are coming so we can seat them accordingly (we will be maintaining social distance). Numbers are limited. 

Children under the age of 4 are welcome to stay in the service during the sermon, or you can take them out to the foyer where we will have some toys available. If you have a child who is age 3 or under who would like to come to the DVD session, you will need to stay with them to supervise them - please make this clear when booking their place.   

Bookings will be through ChurchSuite as usual, and you will also be able to book here:
Book into a summer DVD session on 1st August
Book into a summer DVD session on 15th August
Book into a summer DVD session on 29th August 

Youth Provision:  We are not offering separate youth provision in the Sunday morning services over the summer, although the young people are very welcome to remain in church throughout the services, including at the four all-age services at 11am (25th July, 8th August, 22nd August, 5th Sept).   

Young people are encouraged to attend the 7pm service, where we will be hearing from guest speakers about their favourite psalms, along with discussion and extended sung worship.  Over the summer, these may be the most suitable services for young people, in addition to the all-age services at 11am.  Sunday youth provision will begin again from 12th September.   

Review Point: At the end of August, we will review the local and national situation, and propose a way forward to take effect from 12th September onwards.  This could necessitate the re-introduction of a booking system to attend church services, particularly for youth and children’s groups.   

Thank you so much for your support, patience, and understanding, as we navigate these complex times, secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us, and the joy and value of meeting together as the church family.  We hope to see you soon.   

Jon Scamman 
21 July 2021