HURST GREEN FAMILY CHURCH COVID-19 PANDEMIC :- CHURCH BUILDING & MEETING PROTOCOLS
Following the publication on 29 June 2020 by the UK Government headed:-
“COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July”
(a copy of which will be supplied to any Church Member upon request)
the leadership of Hurst Green Family Church appointed Jason & Tracy Evans to carry out a formal Risk Assessment setting forth their recommendations regarding safe use of the Church Premises and Safe Meeting Protocols in line with the afore-mentioned Government Publication.
This appointment was based upon the wide experience and expertise gained by both Jason & Tracy in their respective roles within the Education and Health Sectors during these past few months where they have been personally responsible for putting such procedures into place.
The Risk Assessment was completed on 7 July 2020 and a copy supplied to Nigel Powell (Church Pastor) to enable him to put in place the requirements of that Assessment with a view to re-opening the Church Premises for public meetings on Sunday 12 July 2020. (A copy will be posted on-line on our church website.)
A meeting of the “Pandemic Committee” comprising of Nigel & Christine Powell, Andrea Powell, Joan Betteridge and (with apologies from) Jason & Tracy Evans, took place at 11am on 8 July 2020 upon the church premises in order to establish responsibilities and tasks needing to be carried out in order to comply with the Risk Assessment and for meetings to re-commence as planned.
The following directions and protocols for both the use of the building and for church meetings have been agreed by the Pandemic Committee and will be in place for Sunday 12 July. However, they are all subject to change, without notice if necessary, during the course of the coming weeks and months as experience or new Government Guidance might dictate.
The leadership would like to express their appreciation to Jason & Tracy and the rest of the Pandemic Committee for the huge effort that all have made in order to enable us to re-open the church building so quickly.
1) ACCESS AND EGRESS
a) Entering and exiting of the Church Premises will be through the Main Entrance only where “Social Distancing” regulations will be in force by way of cones along the pathway from the pedestrian gate to the entrance door and taped markings within the Entrance Vestibule.
b) PLEASE ENSURE that if you are parking on the car park that when you get out of the car you exit the car park the way you drove in and re-enter via the Pedestrian Gate…no short-cutting please!
c) Within the vestibule you will be greeted by a church member who will ask you if you have been showing any Covid-19 symptoms, i.e. a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste and smell. Please be aware that if you have had such symptoms you will be asked not to come in and advised to telephone 119 in order to register for a test.
d) Assuming you are not showing any such symptoms, you will be asked to use the hand sanitiser available in the vestibule and your name will be marked down as present on the Member’s Register. If you are a visitor to the church, then you will be asked for your full name, address and telephone number for the Visitor’s Register. Both Registers will be retained for a minimum period of 21 days; the contents will only be divulged to official NHS Test and Trace authorities if needed for contact tracing and the investigation of local outbreaks.
2) CHURCH SEATING LAYOUT
e) Upon entrance into the main building, you will find the layout somewhat different to the usual. The main seating area will be laid out with groups of chairs in varying proximity to others with a view to enabling “households” to be seated closely together, but then a gap to separate them from the adjacent “household”. Persons living on their own will be free to sit apart or form a “bubble” with a household that has not already been made into a bubble with another single; alternatively, single people may choose to form a “Singles Bubble” of their own.
The intention is to comply as far as possible with Social Distancing regulations and yet ensure that no-one feels left out or isolated. PLEASE FEEL FREE to move chairs around if the existing configuration does not meet your group’s needs.
f) Separate seating arrangements will be in place for families with young children. Tables will be laid out down the right hand side of the main hall for family groups and special writing/colouring packs supplied for each child to enjoy during the service. These packs need to be left on the tables when the meeting is over as they will be kept segregated ready for the child to have their own pack again at the next meeting. PARENTS/GUARDIANS….PLEASE NOTE…..for everyone’s safety, please make every effort to ensure that young children remain with you at the table throughout the service. Sunday school will restart at some point in the future but exactly when is yet to be decided…..in the meantime, we will make every effort to ensure that young children are catered for and that meetings are geared to be more “child friendly!”
3) USE OF FACILITIES
g) The toilets in the Main Hall will be available for use but not the one in the crèche or upstairs. However, entry to the toilets must be on a “one in—one out” basis. An Engaged/Vacant sign will be hung on the door; please ensure that you turn it over as you go in and as you come out. Paper towels and a lidded bin with liner are supplied in place of the usual towels and alcohol wipes provided in each cubicle should you wish to clean the facilities before/after use. Before vacating the toilet block, please wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and running water or use the hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of your hands are covered. Young children must be supervised by parent or guardian in the use of the toilet facilities.
h) There are no creche facilities and access to the Gold Room will not be allowed except for those who may need to obtain items required for the meeting. In the first instance, it is not planned to use the kitchen facilities for drinks and refreshments but bottled water will be available if needed.
4) ORDER OF SERVICE
i) Due to the restrictions put upon us by the Govt. Regulations, the services will have a very different “feel” about them. Public singing inside the premises is strongly advised against, as is the playing of any wind instruments or any music which is so loud that it inhibits normal conversation. If weather is good, then we may have a short period of worship in the rear garden using acoustic guitar and possibly keyboard. If this is done, then access to the rear garden will be via the front exit and around through the mesh gate and not through the Gold Room and chairs will have already been put in place for those who prefer to sit.
j) Services will be informal and members are encouraged to come prepared to share a psalm, a hymn or a testimony. Nigel will share a short message which will be geared towards both adults and children. Where appropriate, children will be supplied with materials in their packs that have some links with Nigel’s message.
k) When Communion is celebrated, this will be arranged under stringent protocols. Nigel, wearing suitable protective gloves, will serve the congregation in “household bubbles” with members coming forward and receiving an individual “Ritz” cracker served with tongs into the palm of the recipient who will then take and drink from their individual cup of “wine.”
l) Communal offerings are to be avoided; a basket to receive your tithes and offerings will be placed near the exit and this will be handled solely by the Treasurer after the service has finished.
m) Whilst we all want to enjoy real fellowship with one another after so long apart, priority at this stage still has to be given to ensuring the safety of all members and visitors and, therefore, social distancing should be adhered to at all times. At the close of the service, members should vacate through the main exit as quickly as possible, by household if possible, and maintaining social distancing. Chatting thereafter in the open air of the car park will be welcomed by all!
5) GENERAL MATTERS
n) Services will start at 10.30 am but will probably only last for about an hour, depending upon what takes place and, of course, how the Holy Spirit leads. It is anticipated that they will be 14 days apart throughout July and August which allows for any outbreaks of the virus to be discovered before we meet the next time. This will be reviewed by the leadership for September but it is not expected to change until there are further relaxations to the Regulations. Masks or other face coverings are not obligatory but may, of course, be worn if preferred.
o) Following attending a service, if any member or visitor starts to get Corona Virus symptoms, (as detailed in 1b above) then you should telephone 119 and register for a test. If that test proves positive, then you should follow the “stay at home” guidance and also ensure that Nigel Powell is advised immediately. You may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to supply them with a list of those you have recently been in contact with. If this is required, Nigel will supply you with complete details of those that were in the same meeting as you. For members and visitors who were in the meeting, no action needs to be taken unless you also develop symptoms or are advised to take action by the NHS.
CONCLUSION :- As stated in Nigel’s website blog, (Church opening update 29/06/2020), we have three priorities to consider upon re-opening the church building for services:-
1) Safety. We have taken every effort to ensure the safety of all members and visitors throughout all of the above.
2) Family. We are seeking to meet the needs of the whole family at HGFC. For those who want to get back as quickly as possible and those who are reluctant or fearful or, simply, unable to come due to shielding regulations. To these people we want to make it clear that you are under NO OBLIGATION and free to attend as and when you are able to do so.
3) Experience. This remains an unknown. We want the experience to be a thoroughly enjoyable one, despite the restrictions, so that it is worthwhile all of the effort involved. Jesus has promised to be there, whenever we meet in His Name, so if you are coming….then come with Great Expectations!!