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Churches still open over Christmas

Dear friends,

Most of you will now have heard the disappointing news that London is about to enter the new ‘Tier 4’ category from midnight on Saturday night (20th December). Having uttered a few un-vicarly words on first hearing the news, I am now trying to work out the full implications of what this means for the church.

Boris Johnson made clear in his ANNOUNCEMENT that communal worship will be able to continue under Tier 4. So as far as we understand, it is therefore legal to carry on with our Christmas worship as planned. The decision as to whether it is advisable or sensible to do so is a separate issue, which is being left to the local church. This is also the advice we are hearing from the Archdeacon and Bishop.

Having consulted with the wardens, we have decided at this stage to continue with worship over the Christmas period as planned – whilst understanding that some may rightly and properly decide they should not come – including members of the choir, stewards, and others. So do please think seriously about whether you should come.

As present, we do our best to observe good hygiene and social distancing, and to wear masks, in a large and airy church. For our Christmas Services (Carol Service, Midnight Mass, and Christmas Day worship), we have a booking system in place, with a maximum capacity of about 170 (excluding choir and clergy). They are all spaced out, on allocated seating, and this is well less than half the actual capacity of the church (which would hold over 400 or 500 if all seats were taken). So we are following all appropriate guidance.

But please be aware that there are high numbers of Covid cases in the local area, as well as cases in local schools (including St Peter’s Primary School), and that quite a number of those who come to church – including me – have children, teenagers, or young people in their 20s who will be coming to services themselves, or who live in the same household. So it is quite reasonable to be cautious.

Do please be in touch (via the office email) with any thoughts. We will let you know as soon as possible should things change.

My prayers are with you all in these difficult times.