Dear Parishioners & Friends of the Parish…
As you will be well aware at 6pm last night An Taoiseach addressed the nation and highlighted the latest ease of COVID Restrictions. Whilst it was unexpected as to the scale of what has been lifted – It will be great to enjoy many of the freedoms this announcement now brings.
I too, understand the mix of emotions we are now living with in light of this announcement.
I write this email after many hours of phone calls and discussion with Staff Members, Church Wardens, and Musicians who will be playing tomorrow as well as receiving advice, wise counsel & encouragement from Bishop Paul Colton.
Nearly 2 years ago we were plunged into a set of restrictions within the parish that none of us could have predicted.
· No Singing
· Socially Distanced
· Removal of the things which we had valued so much as a Church Community in terms of hospitality
· Having to register for church services
· Contact tracing
· Etc etc
As of 6 am this morning things have changed dramatically
Having said this, we also know that the pandemic hasn’t gone away so whilst we will on Sunday see a lot of changes to our worshipping life some things will not change and we will tread carefully through these next few months together –
Can I please ask that we do, as we have done throughout this pandemic – ie. being kind to one another, being careful with our words and our actions realizing that not everyone is where we are.
There are still many of our members who are very concerned about their own and loved one’s health and underlying conditions. Therefore some may not be OK with the relaxation of the distancing and other changes we’re making – As Rector, I am very aware of this and want to ensure that all know that it’s still not business as usual. If any parishioner would like to chat with me about this please do not hesitate to contact me.
There was a helpful article in the examiner recently entitled Anxious about life going ‘back to normal’? Expert advice for tackling the transitionhttps://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/healthandwellbeing/arid-40790415.html
Having said all of the above … With the news that things have changed in society – we are making the following changes from tomorrow morning in our services. These are in line with the guidance on gov.ie website.
So What will Change this week?
- Congregational singing will return
- Social Distancing markers will be removed
- There is no longer need for Contact tracing sheets / Booking into The Carraig Centre
- Directions for the entrance & Exit will be removed
- We are updating guidance for those who are speaking at the front – Prayer-ers, readers, preachers etc. In line with HSPC advice for places of worship & to help those who are struggling with voice projection & other issues masks may be removed when they are at the front and far enough away from others (>2m). Singers will continue to follow the advice that applies to congregational singing.
- How communion is administered will be discussed at in each of our worship spaces.
- We can also do away with the yellow laminated cards with the restrictions on them
- The Mandated 1 hr time limit from the entrance – to exit will be removed.
- Woodwind instruments will again be allowed whilst sufficient distance is kept between the musician and others (>4 m)
- (Carraig Centre Hospitality) Teas and coffees will be served in the Foyer of the Carraig Centre before the service. As masks need to be worn in the main hall – we ask people to consume drinks/snacks in foyer/outside before taking their seats
What will remain?
· In An Taoiseach’s address there was a line “Based on the advice of NPHET, the wearing of masks where they are currently required will continue.” as well as the headline – wearing of masks in appropriate settings
· As Churches are gathering places for a good number of people it makes sense to say that we will continue to wear masks for the time being.
· The House of Bishop’s advice on the Common Cup remains and as such we will continue to use the individual cups for the time being
· Hand sanitisation stations at entrances
– We will maintain retiring collection rather than passing plates/baskets around
· Ventilation in our buildings
· The protocols around pods in childcare remain and Adventurers will continue to meet with the protocols which they are currently using.
What we will be working on?
There are many other issues that will crop up in practical ways and could I ask that we take time for guidance to catch up and also for the House of Bishops to provide us with clarification.
– I will be meeting with the Church Wardens in each church to see how we can sensibly bring teas and coffees back to St. Peter’s, Blarney & Inniscarra in line with the guidance – This will take a couple of weeks to sort out.
– The Peace during communion will be worked on in the course of the weeks
– Cleaning protocols required in our churches and buildings will need to be discussed
And so …
I have wanted to ensure that as parishioners you know what you are coming to tomorrow. Throughout this, I have a policy of ‘no surprises’ when it comes to these things.
I can assure you of a warm welcome, a place where we are implementing the best practice as we have done throughout the pandemic and I must say I am looking forward to congregational singing.
In terms of space – Our buildings, on the whole, are spacious so I do encourage you to use the whole space. If you do wish for more space around you please do feel free to move to ensure you are comfortable.
If there is anything else I need to be aware of as Rector please do contact me I will be in St. Peters and Inniscarra tomorrow and Matt and Bill are in the Carraig Centre.