From the 4th of July, we will be allowed to re-open the Chapel for worship services and prayer. As things stand, it looks like we will be fairly constrained in what we do. Current guidelines suggest that singing will not be possible and we will have to observe strict social distancing. We will not be able to share communion or fellowship over tea and coffee. Sunday Night Churc, café style with food is also off the menu. We expect to continue to provide online services for some time yet.
We are also aware that there are risks ahead. A second wave and at least localised lockdowns remain possible. We are aware that quite a few people remain very anxious about being out in public without a possible vaccine available.
So, given the limitations and the possibility that time back could be short lived, why are we choosing to do so? And why, as some churches are considering, not wait until we are already to go back together?
Here are some reasons why we want to start using the Chapel again. The first is that we want to obey Scripture as much as possible. We are exhorted in Hebrews 10 to not give up on gathering together. Whilst we as a church believe that our online events, particularly the zoom calls do provide a level of embodied gathering enable us to see and hear each other, hear God’s word, enjoy fellowship and share communion, it is not quite the same as getting together in the same place. Just as talking to parents and grandparents on video chat has been a great help for many but has also increased our longing to visit, so Zoom helps but doesn’t get us all the way.
Secondly, we want to help people to get used to meeting, even if it is restricted and incremental. Our first aim is to begin getting used to getting together in the same space. It is likely that this will be for short periods of time initially.
Thirdly, the building remains a visible and central point of contact. It is an ideal place to arrange to meet before heading off for socially distanced walks and conversations.
Fourthly, we are aware that there are quite a number of people who have struggled to access fellowship and teaching via online methods. This includes a number of our homeless community and others who are dependent on limited data packages on their mobile phones. We want to begin exploring how we best support you if you fall into these categories.
Fifthly, this is a small step of faith. We are not about to be reckless, we will not take risks with anyone’s health or life. However, we want to show that we do not have to be cowed and frightened in the face of a virus. We trust God and we have hope for the future. Beginning to meet is one way in which we can express that hope.
We hope to see you soon at the Chapel. However, if you are not ready to start coming along, don’t worry, we will be continuing to provide opportunities to connect via Zoom, Facebook and YouTube.