Autumn Services & COVID-19 Protocols

The Service pattern for the Union of Parishes has been carefully worked out and the latest version is available here

Click the image for Autumn service times!

Below is a guide produced by Robert Ferris in consultation with Vestry, Church Wardens and the Sunday AM Leadership team and is in-line with current government and church protocols. Please do take a read at this.

Now that all the regulations have been read and we’re now about to slowly open up the Churches in the Parish there’s a few things which underpins all that is below .

It’s not ‘business as usual’

But on the other hand there is much that will be recognizable – we are still able to meet together to worship God, to enjoy him and each other’s company

The last couple of weeks we’ve been meeting as a Vestry, Church Wardens and staff team to ensure that we take all of the necessary precautions.

There are a basic few things which underpin this:

Stay Safe:

This might seem obvious but – If you are feeling ill – or have any of the COVID-19 symptoms please do not come out to church!

  • If you are in one of the groups which have been cocooning and are feeling uneasy about coming out – please do not feel you NEED to come to church right away – come out at your own speed.
  • We are making provision for families – we’d love to see you! – however we also would request that parents help us to maintain the 2m distancing rules with and between kids.  This is really important for all of our families to feel safe on Sundays.

Protect Each other:

In line with this we are asking people to do a few things:

  • Make sure you keep your distance – 2m where you can. 
  • Please ensure you sanitise /wash hands on the way into church and after going to the toilet – we as clergy will be observing hand hygiene protocols right the way through services.
  • Consider the use of a face covering if you are aged over 13 in our buildings considering the risks this virus poses to some of those who may be in the building alongside you. We as staff will be wearing face coverings on Sunday mornings and where we are meeting people in homes and other places when we are requested to do so (more info below).
  • If you use the toilets please wipe down surfaces before and after use with the cleaning products supplied.

Capacities of our Buildings:

This is a changing picture – which depends upon government guidelines on distancing, and also maximum capacity caps as well as our ability to adhere to all of the guidelines.

At time of press there’s a 50 people max capacity in the Carraig Centre  at the beginning of September  – please do book a ticket via our website – Check that out here!

In Blarney and St. Peter’s churches there are smaller capacities – please do come earlier than usual so we can help you find your seats. If we are over-subscribed please do bear with us – we may have to say to you that we are full.

Inniscarra Church is operating an optional booking-in system – simply email Andrew Watson – the email address for this is inniscarra@cupcork.ie  – if you are planning on coming simply let us know! – you are also more than welcome to turn up – if we are over-subscribed please do bear with us – we may have to say to you that we are full.

As you come into each of our buildings, you’ll see that there are the 2m markings outside that are familiar – we might have to queue to get in!

There is the regular hand sanitisation station! – please sanitise your hands well.

We’re also making a list for contact tracing purposes – so if we ask you your name / contact phone number please don’t be surprised. These will be held for 21 days.

When you get to the front of the queue – one of the wardens / service hosts will be pleased to escort you to your seat!

During the service

The service words will be either projected or there will be service sheets already in your pews/seats.

There will be no congregational singing – there may however be music of some kind.

The service will take our usual formats with some differences.

If it is a Communion service you will notice the peace will have to be shared differently and also the presiding minister will let you know how the receiving is to happen.

Holy communion will be in one kind only.

For families with kids – we recommend you bring some activities / toys with you for the service. We will provide colouring/puzzle sheets for children in every service – so please bring along your own colours! 

Use of toilets:

This is a particular area of risk!

Please do speak to wardens / service hosts and they will direct you.

If you need the toilet in our churches, please ensure you sanitise your hands going in and coming back out again.

There is a particular cleaning protocol in place for these – please do read the notice and follow the directions in place.

Leaving Church:

Please follow directions of the wardens/service hosts – you will most probably be leaving from a different door than you came in. In the traditional churches this will be through the vestry / kitchen, in the Carraig Centre this will be through the side exits.

Please do not congregate outside the door but rather move right away to allow others to exit.

Face-coverings and the Administration of Communion:

This is one of the areas where there could be issues.

Some may receive the bread in the usual way at the particular point in the service.  Others may wish to maintain their face-covering until outside of the building after the dismissal – in order to facilitate this the presiding minister will be available outside to administer bread to those who wish.

Please do contact the clergy if you prefer to receive Home Communion at this time.

Face Coverings: 

While we are working hard to seat people in church in a socially distanced way, such social distancing risks breaking down in comings and goings to and from church, arriving and departing, and at times of receiving Holy Communion, depending on how the administration takes place, or where there is some other necessary movement around the church, such as to and from seats.

The Minister of Health recently said –

“The very clear public health advice is that we are asking people to wear face coverings when they use public transport, in indoor public areas, including retail outlets, when they are visiting the homes of those who are cocooning or are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning, when they are visiting a residential care facility, or in any environment where it is not possible to maintain one’s social distance.”

So, on this basis we’re recommending the use face coverings in all of our Sunday gatherings whilst also recognizing that it is not recommended for some.

HSE Guidelines state that – cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is unconscious or incapacitated
  • is unable to remove it without help
  • has special needs 
  • who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering

We as a parish family will NEVER criticise or judge anyone who is not wearing a face covering.

Robert Ferris

26.6.2020 Updated 1.9.2020