St Thomas News 22nd July 2021
Dear Church family,
Covid Restrictions etc:
As you'll be aware, the law has now changed with regard to Covid restrictions, and we need to to decide how to respond as a church. This is, of course, a complex issue as opinions are quite varied. We want to try as far as possible to make everyone who wants to come to church feel comfortable and welcome, and so we encourage everyone to think of other people's needs above their own. Below is what the churchwardens and I have agreed on, but it will be regularly reviewed as the situation changes.
High infection levels: Perhaps the most important thing to say is that, because the infection rates are likely to remain high over the summer, we all need to take that into consideration in our decision to come to church (or not). If you are anxious about being in a place where someone may have Covid, we do not want to give false assurances.
Seating and Social Distancing: At least until after August 16th (when some self-isolation rules are relaxed), we will keep the seating arrangements as they are now. Given that we generally have slightly lower numbers in the summer, we anticipate this will mean anyone who wants to come to worship in the building will be able to. The chairs are distanced, but not by as much as 2m, so you may still be counted as a 'close contact' of those sitting nearest to you in terms of test and trace.
In terms of social distancing, please be courteous and don't go too close to others unless you know they are comfortable with that.
Booking: You won't need to book in any longer. We will take a note of names/contact details of any guests we don't know. In order to help with test and trace should we need to, we will take a photo which will not be shared and will be deleted after a week.
Singing: We will be singing again in the building - this seems to be something people have especially missed!
Face Masks: Face coverings are no longer a legal requirement and will not be compulsory. We generally encourage you to continue to wear yours as it may help others who are more anxious. If you're in close proximity to someone you don't usually meet, please wear your face covering as a courtesy to them.
As we see how this goes, it may be sensible to create different areas in the church for those with or without masks.
After the Service: Weather permitting, we will continue to sing a final song outside the church and to socialize outdoors (although if some people wish to go back indoors to sit and chat that will be ok too). No refreshments as yet, but hopefully soon...
Children's Groups: One of the things we have most missed is being able to run groups for our children - our intention is to start these groups again in September.
Online Streaming: Streaming will continue for the time being. As we move into autumn, we will review the situation - as time goes on, we do want to strongly encourage physical gathering, even while we continue to enable those who can't be with us to worship online.
St Wulstan's: For those who might be nervous about coming to a fairly full St Thomas', please know you are welcome also to come along to St Wulstan's where there are fewer people. St Wulstan's meet at 10am on Fossway. (At St W, there will be tables for those wearing masks, tables for those without, and some separate seating with more distance maintained.)
An invitation from Jack Shepherd
Jack is part of the 'Joshua Centre' in the Diocese of Liverpool. Next Wednesday at 8pm they are running a Zoom session discussing reaching people in recovery. Jack invited me to be part of the discussion, and has said that anyone who is interested is welcome to join - the details are https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83841510533 (meeting ID: 838 4151 0533).
Finally, an encouragement from 1 John 4 in these times of anxiety: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out all fear." Let's draw near to God, who pours out his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit, giving us confidence to live in his eternal security.
Rev. Alistair Rycroft
St Thomas' Church, York
St Wulstan's Church, York
"You will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on You, who trusts in You." (Isaiah 26.3)