Churches reopen for public worship across the Diocese

Every church in the Diocese is on a different part of the journey to reopening, and each church will make its own decision as to what is right and safe for them.

Many have taken the step to open for private individual prayer.

For those who were able to open for public worship at the weekend (4 July), it was a special moment.

Many churches shared their delight on social media:

“It was truly wonderful to be back together again and celebrating the Eucharist! Everyone socially distanced at all times and the service flowed beautifully. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.” St John’s, Sidcup

“How wonderful to see friendly faces this morning worshipping socially distanced in church!” All Saints, Frindsbury

"Great to be back in Church this morning at 8am. One happy Vicar…Rev Lynn beaming. Online service too…” All Saints, Langton Green

Over at St. Augustine’s, Gillingham, Fr Antony Lane said that there was a sense of expectancy to see who would arrive:

“We gathered for Morning Prayer, not knowing who would come but 16 folk came! We all played by the rules, and the simplicity of it made a very powerful and positive experience.

“Although we are yearning for the Eucharist, we felt that so many would still be missing we would keep it simple and move positively but slowly.”

Picture: All Saints, Langton GreenMembers of St John’s, Bromley, returned to their church building for a Family Service which saw 56 people of all ages, gather for worship.

Like many of those opening for public worship, they also recorded the service, so that other church members could watch it later online.

They even found their own solution to the question of ‘What happens when the congregation isn't allowed to sing?’ They whisper!

Meanwhile, Fr Gerry Jenkin, Priest in Charge at St Luke the Evangelist, Gillingham, was delighted to be joined by 20 people for their first celebration of the Eucharist for over three months:

“Yes, local pubs are open - our nursery school is open- and our Church is there, open and praying amongst them. THANKS BE TO GOD!” 

 

(Picture: All Saints, Langton Green)

For all those opening for public worship, it came after much careful thought and preparation, but for the Rev Liz Cox, Vicar of St Mary and St Barnabas, Gillingham, it was all worth it:

 “Was it chaos? Yes – trying to direct people to their seats while following a one way system and making sure they sanitised on the way in, getting used to a service on a screen rather than books, one sound system failing at just the wrong moment, dropping the phone which was being used to zoom to those still isolated so they got a view of the roof rather than the altar.  Then the priest trying to light the Easter candle - forgetting she was wearing a shield and nearly catching fire!

“But was it joyful? YES it was. The joy on people’s faces as they felt the privilege of ‘being together’, of worshipping physically together was indescribable. Were the hours of measuring with a 2 metre stick, sticking arrows everywhere, writing risk assessments and cleaning worth it? One hundred per cent.

“We know it’s different, we know we may get locked down again, but for now we CELEBRATE!!

On Sunday 12 July, Rochester Cathedral will offer public worship for the first time since lockdown.

There will be two Eucharistic services: one at 9.30am, at which Bishop James will preach and preside, and one at 11.30am, at which Dean Philip will preside.

Only 60 people will be allowed at each service and an online booking system will open shortly.




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