Worship in our Churches in light of the lifting of restrictions January 2022
Both select vestries met together via Zoom on Monday night (24th January 2022) to discuss how we might progress as a group of parishes in light of An Taoiseach’s announcement about the lifting of restrictions on Friday 21st January 2022.
The select vestries felt that as the numbers of cases of COVID were still so high, with omicron continuing to be a factor and continuing to be highly transmissible, that the current services times and the current measures that were in place in both churches should continue, and that a full review of the situation would take place at the end of February 2022. A number of parishioners contacted members of the select vestries and me, expressing their concern if the protective measures that were in both churches were lifted, and a number said that they would not feel able to come to church if they were ‘all gone overnight’. Both of the select vestries and I are committed to the parishes being able to worship as fully as possible in both churches, but parishioners’ and attendees’ wellbeing has to be given primary consideration.
- Social distancing with the current seating plans will continue until the review.
- Masks are to be worn at all times, covering both mouth and nose, except when leading worship or reading.
- Holy Communion will continue to be self-administered in the pews using the little plastic cups and wooden blocks.
- Sanitising of hands on entering and exiting the churches will continue to be required.
- Contact Tracing Details are no longer required.
- Singing is now allowed, but with masks on.
Services will be at 8.30 on a Sunday and at 10.30 on a Wednesday in St Thomas’ Church, and at 10.30 on a Sunday in St Philip and St James’ Church. The 10.30 service on a Sunday will continue to be live-streamed. On the second Sunday of the month, there will be a Sausage(less!) Service at 6.30pm in St Philip and St James’ Church.
Members of the select vestries will be talking to parishioners to get their views on how they feel about returning to in-person worship and what would work for them going forward, and those opinions will be taken into consideration when all will be reviewed at the end of February 2022.
The advice which issued from the Archbishop of Dublin following correspondence between him and An Taoiseach’s office endorses the approach taken by the select vestries.
Following Fridays announcement by Government regarding lifting of restrictions, limits on capacity for all indoor and outdoor events will no longer apply.
We are aware however that some individuals, including the more vulnerable, may continue to have concerns regarding the pandemic and might be feeling some anxiety about re-engaging with others. For this reason, it may be helpful for each Place of Worship/Community to implement a risk assessment to ascertain what they are comfortable with and what best suits their congregation as a result of the lifting of restrictions. Continuation of some protective measures may be preferred, for an interim period, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable or anxious members of the congregation.
We would very much appreciate hearing your views and input, and please feel free to contact any member of the select vestries or me in this regard.
Stay well and stay safe.