As we mentioned last Sunday, in accordance with the government’s Roadmap to the new normal, the physical distancing guidelines require all people (customers and staff of a business) to be able to remain 1.5m from one another ‘within the business’. This means our church building can only hold 64 people, and we could create an overflow of another 21 in the Hart room (which isn’t a viable long term solution). Therefore we would need to start a 3rd service if we want to meet as part of a stage 2 change.
I called the gatherings hotline again on Tuesday and asked about the guidelines for venues with fixed seating like cinemas, the entertainment centre, a lecture theatre, etc and was told guidelines will be released about them on the 18th May as part of stage 3 of the removal of restrictions. The website mentions an ‘approved seating configuration’, which isn’t very specific. However, I was encouraged to consider waiting for those guidelines, as it might mean we can fit more people into our space.
So, it seems we have two options. Firstly, we could start meeting together with a 3rd service on the 17th May (stage 2), and work out who goes to which service then. Or, we could wait to the 18th May in hope that we can get a seating configuration approved that enables us to return to two services on the 7th June (stage 3).
I think it’s more manageable, less change, and less traumatic for all, if we postpone the decision about the number of services until after the 18th May, and hope we can meet together on the 7th June in two services.
I’m sorry to postpone the opportunity to meet together for a further three weeks, but think the hoped for benefits of not having to start a 3rd service outweighs the delay.
Please pray for wisdom, clarity, and patience for our whole church family as we await further guidelines and do what is right and loving for all.
We have also significantly updated the coronavirus FAQ page addressing questions about
- seating in church for children,
- plans for playgroup, FRESH, and youth group,
- what will church look like,
- will the livestream continue once we can meet again,
- and more…