From the Churchwardens: Introducing controlled access to church services from September

In our last message we explained our policy of a gradual return to public worship in church, adhering to the rules set out by the Church of England.  We now wish to inform you about our plans for the rest of the summer and provide you with details of how we will introduce controlled access to church services from early September.  Please be assured that our guiding principle is to minimise the risk to our clergy, lay staff and congregation from the continued presence of coronavirus in our communities.  We all feel some frustration with the restrictions under which we are currently living.  However, we are sure you will understand the reasons for our cautious and measured approach.

Recent months have been hugely busy and demanding for our Priest-in-Charge.  We feel it is important that Revd Susan takes some family holiday time before we move forward with our phased reopening.  Susan will be on annual leave from Sunday 10th to Friday 28th August.  We do wish her and all her family a happy, relaxing and above all a safe break.

During Susan’s absence, the prerecorded Sunday Eucharist services on Sunday 16th, 23rd, and 30th August will be broadcast on our YouTube Channel as usual.  You can access them via the link on our website or by going direct to St Paul’s Wimbledon Parkside on YouTube, as you currently do.  After the service, ‘Virtual Coffee in The Lounge’ will continue to go ahead each Sunday at 11.30 am, hosted by Margaret Brown.

Our services of Morning and Evening Prayer on weekdays will be suspended while Susan is away.  However, Southwark Cathedral offers Morning Prayer at 9 am and Night Prayers at 8 pm on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter via this link:  Southwark Cathedral – Streaming and Videos 

After Susan’s return, we will begin to phase in public access to worship in church using a booking system which is explained below.  Details of the first services available, and the numbers allowed to attend, are as follows:

Sunday 6th September, 6 pm – Evening Prayer – our first live-streamed service
Max congregation: 15. No singing.
Book by email to Parish Administrator by noon on Friday 4th September.

Sunday 13th September, 10 am – Sunday Eucharist – our first live-streamed main service
Max congregation: 20. Music and hymns but only one solo singer is allowed at the service.
Please bring your own bread.
Book by email to Parish Administrator by noon on Friday 11th September.

How it will work
Attendance at these services will be subject to strict conditions to minimise the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.  These are as follows:

  • A booking request for each service must be made in advance by email to office@stpaulsparkside.org.uk
  • Please write the date of the service requested in the email subject line and give the names of those who wish to attend.
  • Bookings are on a first come / first served basis and will close at noon on the Friday before the service.  After this time no further booking requests will be accepted.
  • Booking requests will be responded to as soon as possible during Parish Office hours (Weds – Fri 09.30 am – 12.30 pm).
  • If the service you request is fully booked, you will be placed on a ‘wait list’ for that service in case of any cancellations.  Should a place become available, you will be notified by the Friday before the Sunday service.
  • Booking requests will be prioritised in the order in which they are received.  Please make your request early to avoid disappointment.
  • Maximum numbers are capped for each service as shown
  • Masks must be worn in church at all times
  • Social distancing is to be strictly observed – 2 metre rule applies for everyone outside your household or social bubble
  • No congregational singing is permitted
  • You are asked to bring your own bread for Holy Communion
  • Please arrive 15 mins before the service so that places can be allocated

Looking ahead
It is hoped that, if all runs smoothly, we will be able to expand the numbers attending our live-streamed services up to the maximum limit allowed of 40 as we progress into the autumn.

To do this safely and successfully, we all must to play our part.  The clergy and staff at St Paul’s need to test our systems and procedures and adjust them as required to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible.  Those attending church need to ensure that they observe the rules at all times, and especially the requirements to wear a mask and to maintain social distancing.  We see all around us in our community examples of where this is simply not happening as it should.  The virus is still here, and we must learn to live with the necessary measures to protect our health and that of others while we try to resume normal activities.

We are particularly excited about the planned introduction of live streaming from September.  We greatly appreciate the generous offers of financial support towards the costs of the equipment which we have received already from members of the congregation.  We gratefully ask anyone who wishes to contribute to speak to Revd Susan or a member of the staff team. Live streaming capability will mean that, wherever we are – in church or at home – we will soon be able to worship as one unified church and community at a live service.

Please read the above carefully and let any of the team know if you have questions or concerns.

We will bring you further information about services as our plans evolve. Do keep an eye on our website www.stpaulsparkside.org.uk

With best wishes.

Margaret Brown
Churchwarden