UPDATE ON TUESDAY, 12th JANUARY:
From: "Rachel Cornish" <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, 12 Jan, 2021 at 10:34
Subject: January 2021 — Public worship
Please make sure to pass this email on to as many as you can so that all are aware:
I have been feeling very torn at this time. Many of you quite rightly have stayed away from church and some of our churches haven't felt there were enough people available to support public worship. I wanted to see how many would choose to come to church last Sunday as that would give me a sense of what was appropriate now in this benefice. Whilst I am keen to offer worship each Sunday, I am also keen that no one feels compelled to attend. On the other hand, if we cancel public worship, then I take the choice away from others. We go to great lengths to ensure as far as is possible the safety of all who attend public worship but I am also very much aware of the latest government advice to stay at home especially now when the hospitals haven't reached their peak of cases after the Christmas freedoms which some took up. On top of all of that I have now heard of a member of our church community who is self isolating. And this has reluctantly brought me to the conclusion that we should suspend services for an initial three weeks when I will assess things again.
Whilst there are no services for the rest of January I plan to make a video each week from within one of our churches with a limited and controlled small number of us present in order to do so. There will be no video or public service on Sunday 17 January. On Sunday 24th January a video will be available filmed at Benhall, and on Sunday 31st January a video will be available having been filmed at Blaxhall.
Morning Prayer on a Friday is a much smaller group so from Friday 15th January, this will be available weekly on Zoom. I will circulate a link to the regular attenders, but can send it to anyone who would like to join us.
ORIGINALLY ISSUED AS "PUBLIC WORKSHIP PERMITTED" ON MONDAY, 11th JANUARY: Under the latest lockdown rules public worship is permitted. All the churches in the Alde River Benefice are open for private prayer, but please observe personal safety and the safety of others should you visit, once lockdown rules permit this. At present we are advised we may travel to church for public worship, and it might be reasonable to call in to a church during the one session of daily exercise. Otherwise, the Government has asked us to stay at home.
Bishop Martin writes: We are grateful that the Government has not prohibited public worship. This reflects the Government’s data that apparently there have been only 47 cases of Covid linked to places of worship through the whole pandemic and across some 30,000 individual places of worship. This has been due, of course, to the incredible diligence and care with which protocols have been followed. Now with this new variant, we must make doubly sure we maintain all proper procedures both during acts of worship and in arrangements for arriving at and leaving services.