Preparing to come together to worship …

The first services with a congregation will take place at St Peter's on Sunday 26th July 2020.  Here are our plans as they currently stand:
Booking
We estimate that there is room for 23 households to be seated at distance from one another. Demand for the 9:30 am service means that, sadly, we won’t be able to find a place for everyone who would like to join us every week. As things currently stand, 26th July and 2nd August at 9:30 am are both fully booked. This suggests that, at best, we may be able to accommodate everyone fortnightly, but not weekly. In the case of the 11:00 am service there is a good chance that those who wish to attend weekly will be able to do so. A booking system will, nevertheless, be used for both services.
Booking for 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th August will open on 20th July. Please let Carole Raw stpeterschurchhgtoffice@gmail.com have your written request indicating:
1. the names of everyone in your household who wishes to attend;
2. which dates out of 9th, 16th 23rd and 30th August you would like to attend;
3. the time of the service you would like to attend.
To state the obvious, it is painful to have to operate a system that turns people away from gathered worship. We will do our best to apportion places fairly – and apologise in advance that not everyone will be get everything for which they ask.
If your application is successful, Carole will email to confirm this (or will email your 'email buddy' if you don’t use email yourself – if you are unsure who this is, please phone the office so we can make sure this line of communication has been established).
Arrival
Entrance will be through the Glass Foyer doors adjoining Primark – unless you have a particular reason for needing to use the West Doors. Please queue at distanced intervals outside this door. The doors will open fifteen minutes before the service is due to start. Bookings will only be honoured until 5 minutes before the service – so please be sure to get to Church early (or tell us if you are going to be late).
Entry and Masks
On entry please sanitise your hands using the automatic sanitiser stations. The latest advice from the Church of England on face coverings reads as follows:

We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.

The Collection
The collection plate will not be circulated during the service. If you don’t give by standing order, please place your collection on the plate as you enter. We should soon have a device to enable contactless giving.
The One-Way System
Broadly speaking, except where it is obviously safe to do otherwise, please travel down the side aisles and up the centre aisle.
Seating
For the first few services, at least, we will only be using every other pew, with one household per pew (a single person, a couple, a family), in the North, South and Centre Aisles. Please choose an unoccupied, available pew and sit at a distance from those walking past to find their seat.
The Liturgy and Music
The liturgy will be projected on two screens. Both 9:30 and 11:00 services will be led from the dais. Music at the 9:30 service will be led from the piano with a solo singer. Music at 11:00 will be led from the organ with a solo singer on the chancel step. Readings, intercessions, preaching, etc., will all be led from a point accessible to a central camera. Congregational singing will not feature. Recorded music may be used at some points.
The Online Experience
We are currently experimenting with the best way to enable those joining us online to engage with the liturgy. This may be by including the text of the liturgy in the video stream; it may be by enabling those worshipping remotely to access hard copy of the liturgy. Your feedback will be useful in thinking about what does and doesn’t work in this respect.
Sharing the Peace
The peace, if part of the service at all, will be shared at a distance.
Holy Communion
The prayer of consecration will be prayed over covered elements. The president will sanitise their hands immediately beforehand.
Communicants are encouraged to form a distanced queue to a single standing station in front of the dais. The president will distribute a wafer, but not wine, without words of distribution. The president will wear a visor. Please indicate in advance if a gluten-free wafer is needed.
Leaving the building after the 9:30am service
If you are able, please leave via the West Doors so as not to interfere with anyone waiting to come in for the 11:00 am service. In the case of both services, please leave in a way that keeps distance between households.
Cleaning before and after
Volunteer cleaners will help prepare the worship space, clean previously occupied pews between services, and clean afterwards.
Toilets
While use of toilets is not encouraged, the disabled toilet and those next to the Glass Foyer will be accessible for those who need them. They will also be cleaned after each service.
Refreshments
For the time being we will not be serving refreshments after the services, however bottled water is available for those who find they need it. Zoom coffee will take place for those at home.
An opportunity and a challenge
Worship during lockdown has in many respects been a challenge, but it has also brought benefits. We have been forced to discover a way of including those who, even under normal circumstances, could not or would not have participated or joined us at all. Similarly, we have learned how images and recorded items can enhance various elements of our worship. As we progress into this new era it will be important to take with us the best of what we have learned, even as we reflect on those experiences that we will be truly grateful to leave behind.

Alan Garrow, Vicar of St Peter's