The Parishes of Tavistock, Gulworthy and Brent Tor
The Vicarage, 5a Plymouth Road, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8AU
Tel: 01822 617432 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4th July 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I look forward to the limited re-opening of our churches for public worship tomorrow. The Church of England has provided considerable guidance to offer support in enabling church buildings to be opened safely for worship. The basic principles of physical distancing, hygiene and safety are well known to us. I have already let you know how we intend to move forward over the coming weeks, and the Archdeacons how now given further national guidance on how we should do this. The churchwardens and I have considered this and I want to keep you as fully informed as possible. The salient points are these:
• An advisory ‘cap’ of 30 has been set for weddings and funerals
• There is no numerical ‘cap’ on other services, but social distancing and Public Health requirements must be met.
• The two-metre ‘rule’ applies for public worship except in situations where closer contact cannot be avoided;
• Consideration should be given to keeping numbers below the maximum possible to further minimise risk.
• Wearing of face-coverings is voluntary.
• While those at extra risk and the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ should be advised of the risks of attending public worship, a decision to do so is theirs alone.
• Government guidance includes a request for names of attendees to be recorded and kept for 21 days to assist ‘track and trace’ if required.
• Singing, chanting and playing of brass or woodwind instruments are not recommended.
• Holy Communion can be held if specific guidance is followed, including the continued suspension of the Common Cup.
• Public worship guidance includes surrounding grounds (including churchyards, car parks and courtyards); meetings in other places should follow other guidance for people meeting in public spaces.
• Refreshments can only be served at tables if a café is included in the church or cathedral building.
The Churchwardens and I have discussed this at length, and I have sought further guidance from the Diocese about the public health implications of “opening up” a building with the capacity of Tavistock Parish Church. Like all places of worship, of whatever size, we are conflicted between not opening, or trying to open safely for a limited number.
A detailed risk assessment has been completed and, as I have previous said, we intend to open for Sunday worship on the 5th July at 9.45 am, for up to 30 people. Sadly, we recognize that those who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” or in any high-risk category may not be able to come because of their circumstances. We really hope no one will be turned away, but, following the latest guidance received, the Church will close after the Sunday service and reopen 72 hours later on Wednesday 8th July from 10 am until 2 pm for individual private prayer. I hope all who wish to, will be able to come in at a time that works for them. We will review all the arrangements next week.
Please be assured that we are all trying the very best we can to move forward safely and well following the parameters set by the Government and Diocese. Please continue to hold our Church in your thoughts and prayers.
On a completely different note, huge congratulations to Pam and Sarah, and those who joined them, for completing their marathon walkathon for the West Devon Children’s Centre on Friday. This is part of the Church’s fundraising for the Children’s Centre and with over £1130 raised so far as I write, this will really make a difference to the lives of young children in our community, especially during these difficult and challenging times. A big thank you to them and everyone who supported them. If you would like to make a donation, please follow the link on our website and Facebook pages.
With God’s blessing