8am and 9:30am on Sundays Hart Street, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2AU

City Church

THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN, HENLEY-ON-THAMES

Churches open for services – Covid-19

Fr Jeremy writes:

I am delighted that our doors are no longer sealed up, and we are now able to resume public worship in both of our churches.  I very much look forward to welcoming many of you back to church this coming Sunday.  It will be a great joy to be able to begin to resume our life together as the body of Christ in this place, with that visible and tangible togetherness that has been missing for the past months, and which is so important to the faith we proclaim in Jesus the Word of God made visible and tangible for us.

I urge you to read the following information carefully.  It includes essential details about both the schedule of services and church opening, and the safety measures we are implementing in order to mitigate the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our approach has been informed by the guidance issued by the government, the Church of England, and the Diocese of Oxford.

Times and locations of services
Some locations of services have been changed to ensure that the same seats are not used more frequently than every 72 hours, to reduce risk of transmission.  All services are at St Mary’s unless otherwise stated.

Sundays
8am Holy Communion (BCP), Jesus Chapel, access through the south door
9.30am Holy Eucharist at the Nave Altar, access through the main doors
11.15am Holy Communion/Matins (BCP) at St Nicholas, Remenham

Mondays
9am  Morning Prayer in the stalls, access through the main doors

Tuesdays
9am Morning Prayer in the stalls, access through the south door
7.30pm Holy Eucharist at the High Altar, access through the south door

Wednesdays
9am Morning Prayer in the stalls, access through the main doors
11am Holy Eucharist in the Lady Chapel, access through the main doors

Thursdays
9am Morning Prayer in the stalls, access through the south door
10am Holy Eucharist (traditional language) in the Jesus Chapel, access through the south door

Fridays
9am Morning Prayer in the stalls, access through the main doors
12noon Holy Eucharist in St Leonard’s Chapel, access through the main doors

Saturdays
No services

Church opening

St Mary’s will be open at the times detailed above, until 1pm on Sundays, and on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm-5pm.  Moving to fuller opening is dependant on volunteers coming forward to help supervise visitor compliance with hygiene rules.

St Nicholas Remenham, in a much less busy location, will be open each day from roughly 9am-5pm.

Who should come to church?

People who have Covid-19 symptoms must not come to church – the key symptoms to look out for are a temperature, a new continuous cough, and/or changes in your sense of taste and/or smell.

People who are currently shielding are advised not to come to church.

People who are vulnerable, either because of age or underlying health conditions, are not encouraged to come to church.

How can I attend church safely?

Church will not be exactly the same as it was before lockdown.  For the foreseeable future, the following changes will be in place:

  1. Everyone will be asked to sanitize their hands on arrival using the sanitizer provided
  2. Everyone will be asked to provide their name and a telephone number on arrival so it is possible to trace contacts in the (relatively unlikely) event of a church-based outbreak
  3. 2 metres social distancing between individuals (or households) is to be observed; please take particular care when arriving and leaving; seating positions have been pre-marked (St Mary’s only); the only exception is when receiving Holy Communion from Fr Jeremy
  4. The Peace will not be shared
  5. Holy Communion will be offered under one kind only; the chalice will not be offered to the people
  6. The words of distribution (“The body of Christ” or similar) usually said to each communicant will be said to everyone together after Fr Jeremy has himself received the sacrament; all who intend to receive reply “Amen”; the sacrament will be administered by Fr Jeremy silently
  7. Holy Communion will be received standing, not kneeling
  8. There will be no singing
  9. Service books will be quarantined, so each book is used only once a week, removing any risk of transmission
  10. There will be no refreshments offered after services
  11. Fr Jeremy will be using strong hygiene measures at the altar.

Further advice, from 24th July: Some new guidance has been issued this week, both by the government and by the Church of England.  We are now asked to strongly advise people to wear face protection in church.  I will wear a face cover during the administration of Holy Communion, but not at other times, as I think it will make it harder for people to hear me, and being a good distance away from everyone else I think the risk of transmission is very low.  Communicants are also advised to sanitize their hands before and after receiving the sacrament.

Finally, in your joy at once again seeing your brothers and sisters in the Lord, please refrain from handshaking, hugging, kissing or other physical manifestations of affection.

Please also note that there are many opportunities to worship at St Mary’s on weekdays, at services which are usually very thinly attended.  The same safety rules will apply at all services.

What is offered for those who cannot attend?

It is not practicable to continue Church at Home as well as offering Sunday services.  We are however going to attempt to livestream our 9.30am Sunday service from St Mary’s.  This raises technical and legal questions; we will do our best!  From 5th July, we will be recording the services and can later upload them to YouTube, through Fr Jeremy’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF0WRLKWtkgWJjZw_d4S6Mw/ . We had hoped to live-stream the service, so that you can take part at 9:30am, but this is more technically complex than we had first thought. The video will appear on our channel on Sunday. We’ll look into live-streaming again for some future services. Please accept our apologies for not having this working yet.

I realise that these guidelines will seem over-restrictive to some; others will be anxious about resuming public worship at all.  Everything will be kept under review, and we hope and pray that the virus continues to retreat, allowing for a further easing of restrictions and a fuller resumption of our worship.

Please continue to pray for the church as we adjust to our changed and changing situation; for those in secular positions of authority and responsibility, and those on the front line in caring for the sick and delivering vital services; and for those who are sick, those who are anxious, and those whose livelihoods are threatened.

I am very much looking forward to seeing many of you on Sunday.