In the early days of television in this country things were very different. There was only one channel which we watched in black and white on tiny screens. There were frequent breaks and breakdowns in the transmission. These were accompanied either by the caption ‘Interval’ with pictures of an endlessly revolving potter’s wheel with a never-to-be-completed pot or a card bearing the message ‘Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible.’
An appropriate message for today! When, in April, I wrote the Pastoral Letter for the Plan covering the period June to August, I wrote – about the production of the Plan …. ‘as if, at some point we shall be able to return to our premises and our regular Worship pattern.’ It hasn’t happened – yet.
In the intervening months we have become used to the phrases ‘social distancing’, ‘deep cleaning’, ‘risk assessment’ and the wearing of face masks is fast becoming the norm almost everywhere outside our own homes.
However, we are beginning to try to resume normal service, or as near normal as possible, in the not too distant future. As I have emphasised before, our absolute priority is the safety and welfare of our people. Individuals and groups are devoting a great deal of time and effort to make all the necessary arrangements to begin Worship in at least some of our Churches. Thank you for all of that work and more. It won’t be a single pattern for every one of our Churches – there will be a reopening only when and if all of the regulations dictated by our Government and Church authorities are followed to the letter, and then only when the Church Council of each congregation agrees.
There may be problems ahead. The Prime Minister’s optimism of ‘normality by Christmas’ has been severely dented by the upsurge of new Coronavirus cases in some parts of our country and the need to backtrack on some of the release measures that were proposed.
When we do go back to Church, it is likely that in the immediate future, things will be different. We shall have to observe social distancing. We shall have to wear face masks. There will only be one Service on a Sunday. We shall not be allowed to sing! In the responses to the questionnaire that I circulated, a significant proportion of the replies I received mentioned that people missed the singing of our faith as well as the fellowship of the congregation. Not many people told me that they were missing the sermons!!
We have produced this Plan on the basis that as near ‘Normal Service’ as is possible will be resumed during the autumn quarter. Our Worship together is a vital part of our Faith.