Covid-19 Letter 19 and Service Information

Dear Church family,

Thank you to the many of you who replied to the Returning to St Mary’s survey last weekend. As you might expect a whole range of feelings and opinions are reflected in the individual responses. Naturally there is a concern about all sorts of implications of meeting together, with some saying that it will be a long time before they feel able to return to meet together in the Church building. But others are longing to be able to be together with fellow Christian believers and are keen to get back, and then many others wanting to return but not quite yet.

The church staff and churchwardens have considered the responses, and all the guidance from the government and the Church of England. We have been working through a Risk assessment, further details of which we will share next week.

On Sunday 26th July at 10am – we plan to livestream a service from the church auditorium. Many of us will continue to join in with church from home, but some will be able to attend in person. Numbers will be limited to around 100-125, depending on how many people are in individual households. And there will be very strict 2metre social distancing, and sadly no joining in the singing for those in the church building.

Children -There will be an opportunity for children (aged 4-10) to watch the on line children's group in the hall with leaders present and with some extra socially distanced activities. Sadly due to the restrictions, children younger than this will have to be cared for by their parents, but we are hoping to stream the service to the crèche room for a limited number. For those at home the on-line children’s group will be available as has become normal over the past 4 months.

All other Church meetings/groups- will continue as before, mainly on Zoom. (Apart from the 4 weddings that will take place at St Mary’s before the end of the month.)

This will be for all of us a significant challenge. Not just the challenge of the social distancing and the infection control, but the challenge of how we come back to being family again. A helpful article from the Gospel Coalition included this:

“It is good and right to be eager to gather again as churches. We should take Hebrews 10:25 seriously when it says we should not neglect to meet together. We should feel the ache of what is lost when we only meet virtually, and every Christian should long for the day when “church on Zoom” gives way to “church in a room.” That day will come. But we should be careful to not rush it. We should be careful to not go faster than governments allow, or faster than those in our community can understand. We should be patient with a timeline that might be slower than we’d prefer; patient with a reopening process that will doubtless be clunky; patient with leaders feeling the pressure of this complex situation; and patient with one another as we figure out the new normal. Those who are not comfortable with physical gatherings should be patient with those who are, and vice versa. As hard as it will be to practice patience, remember that in the scheme of eternity this season—whether it is months long or years—will be but a blip.”

More detailed information will be given next week, but meanwhile if you would like to come to the first service back at church on Sunday 26th July, then please use this link (or if you can’t access the internet contact the church office):

In order to maintain social distancing, we need to limit the number of people attending each service. Therefore, we are asking that you book before you arrive. We will also store your contact details for 21 days to assist with NHS Test and Trace if required (this data will only be held for 21 days and not used for other reasons).

You should only book seats for those in your household or support bubble, from whom you are not required to socially distance. There will be an opportunity for primary school age children to watch the online children's group. If you would like your children to attend, please give their ages and don't include them in the number of seats required.

Services and groups for Sunday 19th July

Online Service, Sunday 10am:

(Other ways to join: | Listen by phone: 01256830011 (press 5 to pause, 4/6 to skip back/forward). Charged as a regular landline number according to your phone plan.)

Children’s Group, from 9.30am:

Virtual tea and coffee, from 10 minutes after the service and notices end: Contact us for Zoom details.

Coming up this week

Sunday, 19th July
09:30am                               Online Children's Group
10:00am                               Online Church Service
10 minutes after service - Virtual Coffee on Zoom
5:45pm                                 PACE! on Zoom
7:00pm                                 Sundays@7 on Zoom
8:30pm                                 Connect on Zoom

Upcoming weddings

Please keep the following couples in your prayers this week as they prepare for their upcoming weddings.

Daniel Butler and Joanna Williams will be getting married at St Marys on 24th July in a service for immediate family members.

Keziah Harding will be marrying Kieran Betts on Saturday 25th July in a small service for close family and friends.

Cara Edwards will be marrying Michael Bright on Saturday 25th July at 3pm. They will be live streaming the service and would love for the church family to join in the celebrations by watching along. The link to the live stream will be published in next week’s letter, so look out for that.

With our greetings,
Philip Hiorns & Jefferson Lynch (St Mary’s Basingstoke Churchwardens)

Published 17/07/2020, 15:35

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