A message from Reverend Deborah Marsh
Dear Friends & Neighbours
You may have seen in the news that the government have granted permission for church buildings to open again from Monday 15 June for private prayer. The bishops have been very clear in their guidance for this and Bishop Donald said the following –
It is good to have an initial move from the government towards re-opening churches. Please note that what is being permitted from next Monday is supervised private prayer: the church building would need to be staffed, as well as complying with the guidance on cleaning, social distancing, and so on.
The Church of England’s mission is always to provide ‘a Christian presence in every community’ and a wonderful part of this presence is often a church building in which people can find a sacred space to step out of the world and draw closer to God. It has been very hard to close the door to these spaces for the last 3 months but it was the right thing to do in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In practical terms, like many other things when lockdown began, closing the door to St Andrew’s here in Whissendine was done swiftly and easily whereas re-opening needs to be done in a measured and sustainable way, keeping things as safe and as simple as possible for everyone. Apart from myself as a full-time stipendiary priest (with responsibility for four parishes) everyone else connected with St Andrew’s is a volunteer and as such is not obliged to take part in any way. A representative group of the PCC have met together and discussed the situation, as well as completing the risk assessment advised by the Church of England, and it’s wonderful that many are willing to help with cleaning and supervising times of opening.
Therefore we are pleased to be able to begin re-opening St Andrew’s with two separate times of supervised private prayer which will be 3-4.30pm on Sundays and Wednesdays (the advice is to allow 72 hours between sessions to remove the need for deep cleaning of the space). The first session will be on Sunday 21st June, which is Fathers’ Day and therefore seemed an appropriate day to provide a space to come before our heavenly Father. People are welcome to come and pray, to light a candle, and to stay as long as they wish during the specified time. However, in the unlikely event that someone was waiting to come in and couldn’t do so safely because of the number of people present then it may be necessary to limit time.
‘Supervising’ just means being present and directing people practically if needed. However, I will be supervising the first session and will be available to speak with anyone and I am also happy to pray with anyone who asks. Prayer requests can always be left in the bowl in St Andrew’s porch or by contacting me.
We are so pleased to be able to welcome people into St Andrew’s and to be adding again to the many centuries of prayer that have been prayed in this space. May all who come be blessed by the prayers of those who have gone before them, may you find peace which passes all understanding, and may your prayerful presence leave behind a blessing for those who will come after you…
Love & prayers,
Reverend Deborah Marsh