I am delighted to share some good news. Blawarthill Church is planning to restart Sunday services as from Sunday 23rd August 2020. We are preparing for this in strict accordance with both Government regulations and the requirements which the Church of Scotland has laid down for every congregation.
Church services must now be held under very different conditions than we have been used to before the lock-down. The Covid-19 virus is still very much with us, your safety is our primary concern. We hope that you will agree that getting back to church is important for the congregation, and for that reason we must all accept the new rules so that we can meet again with old friends, and seek God’s help and blessing on our lives in a way that has not been possible in these last few months.
When you return to church as I hope you will, on or after the 23rd, you will be greeted by stewards on duty who will advise you on where you may sit, and answer any questions you may have. However I hope this newsletter will have gone some way to reassuring you that the Kirk Session has been doing everything possible to return us to some kind of normality, in as safe a way as possible. Of course you must decide for yourself if it is safe and advisable for you to return to church.
It’s my intention to continue the online services which have gone out every Sunday since the start of the lock-down. These have been a great success and have attracted many viewers who would not have been able to attend church in person. I realise that some people mainly in the older age group have not been able to access these services and of course they can never be a full substitute for meeting together in person. As someone remarked, it is the natural desire of congregations to congregate!
I would like to thank all of you who have continued to support the church financially throughout this difficult period, whether through saving up your offering envelopes or through bank standing order.
I look forward to sharing worship with you in Blawarthill at the first opportunity.
With warm Christian greetings,
What will the “new normal” look like as we return to church?
· As you arrive you may be asked to wait at the door briefly, if others arrive at the same time. This is to allow for 2m physical distancing and for those in front of you to be seated. We are allowed a maximum of 50 people at any service. (NB lower number of 20 at funerals). Please use the main entrance and stairs if you can, leaving the side entrance as a priority entrance for those with disabilities.
· Stewards on duty will be wearing a face-covering and it’s now mandatory for you to do the same unless you are normally exempt from that requirement.
· You are asked not to shake hands or use any other form of contact greeting as you arrive or leave.
· You will be asked either to use hand sanitiser which will be available at the door, or go to the toilet and wash your hands on arrival, Toilets are restricted to one user each.
· You will be asked to write down your details for the Government’s Test and Protect scheme. i.e. your name and a telephone number for contact. This will be kept for 21 days, then destroyed.
· You may not be able to sit in your usual place. You will be guided to a seat, and this will be 2m apart from other worshipers. If you are attending as part of a family group your group may sit together.
· There will be music at the service, but singing is not allowed.
· For responses and the Lord’s Prayer, you may speak, but please do so quietly.
· The service will be shorter than you are used to.
· We are not allowed to use the church Bibles and hymn books, nor issue order sheets. You may bring your own Bible for your personal use.
· The minister is allowed to not wear a mask, provided he is the only person in the chancel or the 2m distancing is maintained. This is to make him more audible and to assist those who may lip read as a partial aid to following what is said. If you wish to sit near the front to help you with hearing, please mention this to a steward...they will do what they can to seat you appropriately.
· We are planning to restart the Sunday School. This will not happen on the 23rd August, but we will issue further advice when we are ready to restart.
· We cannot collect the offering by passing the plate along. Plates will be available so that you can drop your offering in before or after the service. Cash is a noted source of virus spread, so we are encouraging members to take out a Standing Order if you have not already done so. If you give that way you should not also make a ‘token’ offering in the plate – it defeats the purpose!
· There can sadly be no coffee/meeting time afterwards. You are asked to leave by the same door as you arrived. Please use the hand sanitisers again as you leave.
· Access to the halls via the link corridor is not allowed under any circumstance. If you require to use the accessible toilet in the flower room, please notify a steward who will open the door for you.
· If you visit a toilet downstairs in the Welcome Centre, please note, one person in each toilet (Ladies, Gents, Accessible) at any one time. Please wait if you have to in the café area, not in the narrow toilet corridor. Please alert a steward if any cleaning is needed. Maintain hand hygiene as normal.
· If you are in an “extremely vulnerable” category you may wish not to return to church for the time being. Webcast services will continue on YouTube for any who cannot come to church for whatever reason. Any modern smartphone or tablet can access these services. Please ask a member of the family to help you with this if you need assistance.
· Our practices may need to be changed in the light of experience, or if Government advice dictates. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.
· If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or self-isolating you must not attend church.