Dear parishioners, it is likely that we will soon be moving to a point where our churches can re-open albeit only for private prayer. This, as I have said earlier, is long-awaited. We have had to get used to many changes in the way we operate from day-to-day given the social restrictions that have been placed upon us, and it is inevitable that such changes will also touch the life of the Church and the way in which we are able to worship at the moment. We may agree or disagree with such changes, we may find reassurance and a sense of security in them, or we may find them difficult to accept and dislike them – I am sure that there are many more feelings, opinions, in this regard.
For the foreseeable future we will be asked to adhere to certain guidelines regarding sanitary precautions and numbers of those in attendance in the hope that everyone who enters the church building can feel assured, as much as is humanly possible, of their well-being. Some of this may seem odd and uncomfortable as we are used to freely associating with each other, and maintaining a warm, friendly and prayerful atmosphere. Sadly many measures seem very impersonal, unfriendly, and awkward (already a number of parishioners have expressed how alien the idea of “booking a time slot seems”, and this is completely understandable – dealing with this, however, will be part of the sacrifice that we will all have to make so that we can, at least, open our buildings for public use and maintain hygiene requirements. This is not exclusive to Church matters, I think we have all experienced the consequences of these new behaviours which are intended to limit exposure to Covid-19.
I ask, kindly, therefore, for your co-operation with the measures which we will be asked to implement even if they feel awkward and very much unlike what we were used to, and I would also ask that we treat such matters seriously but also recognizing that they have very much a secondary role in our faith lives – I would hate to think that in coming to church we would now just be thinking about hand-sanitizers and hygiene, rather than thinking about our love and worship of God and our love for our neighbour. We should feel at peace when we enter into the Lord’s House and nothing should take away from this.
I pray that God will bless you and yours abundantly and lead us all along the path of faithful discipleship, putting Him first in everything. With every prayer and good wish, Fr. Martin Pletts