The restrictions on opening churches are gradually easing and I am pleased to say that the time is drawing nearer when we will be able to open at least one of our churches for public worship. We are currently planning to start holding public worship at St. John’s from Sunday 16th August. This is a longer delay than we had hoped for and I will try to explain the reasons for it.
As you may know, St John’s church was infested by mice during the lockdown and this has required several weeks of pest control followed by thorough disinfection and a deep clean. This has already prevented us from opening our childcare services and it will prevent us from opening the church for several more weeks. The clear-up operation has been a huge and time consuming task. Two skips and two large bins have been filled with contaminated equipment and other items! My special thanks to churchwarden Jean Guppy; managers Theresa Cobbing and Amy Cummins; maintenance man Pete Coverdale and twelve other staff volunteers who are continuing to work on this. Unfortunately, it does not appear that our insurance will cover much (if any) of the cost. This will be substantial as you can imagine! We had hoped to open earlier but it has become clear that we cannot complete all the necessary stages of the clean-up in time to open for worship before Sunday 16th August.
Jean Guppy and Nik Wright are in the process of completing a risk assessment for St. John’s and when we do open for worship it will be for a limited number of people and subject to restrictions to ensure safety. It will be necessary to book in advance so that seats can be arranged and allocated to individuals and households. Precisely how this is going to work will be communicated when the situation is clearer.
Our Parochial Church Council set up a working group to consider the reopening of St Mary’s church for worship. A thorough risk assessment has now been carried out by warden Ian McNally and Nik Wright. To their (and our) disappointment they were unable to find a way in which St. Mary’s could be safely opened for public worship in compliance with the current guidelines. It has therefore been decided that we will continue to broadcast a morning communion service online from St Mary’s at 9am on most Sundays with only a minimal team present. We are continuing to review the situation in the hope that the time will come when it will be safe to extend attendance beyond this small team. Once again, even when we are able to extend attendance, this will be subject to restrictions to ensure safety and these will be communicated when the situation is clearer.
We are very sorry that we are unable to offer more in our churches at this time and we hope that it will soon be possible to gather together more freely for worship and fellowship. In the meantime, I want to pay tribute to all those in our community who have been offering support to one another during lockdown and to invite you once again to make use of the various resources and opportunities for fellowship offered through our website at www.langdonhills.net.
Rev. Colin Hopkinson