Updated: 3 days ago
The following message was released by the Church of England on February 22nd:
"The Government has asked us to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS. Under the current regulations the Government has permitted public worship to continue, if it is safe to do so. While many churches have decided to offer digital services only for the time being, others are continuing to remain open, in a Covid-secure way, for individual prayer and public worship. The circumstances in each place will inform a local decision.We urge everyone to be exceptionally cautious and, in particular, to do everything possible to prevent mingling outside of households and support bubbles.We acknowledge and share the sadness many are feeling at not being able to meet together as we would usually do at the moment and prayerfully and confidently look forward to better times ahead."
The Bishop of Exeter has extended all the dispensations for church closure (given to all churches in the diocese who have sought such permission) to March 29th. Taking account of that extended permission, and following the Government guidance, as set out above, after much thought and prayer our PCC has agreed that our church should continue to stay closed for services up to March 29th. This decision was based on the clear message given by the Government to prevent mixing of households and to ensure everyone of all ages in our church stays safe. We will be continuing with our current church opening for private prayer, on Wednesday and Friday mornings from 10 am to noon (see below) and we are very grateful to the people who enable this to take place each week, as well as for those creating our online reflections.
We hope to open again as soon as the next phase in the lessening of Government restrictions is announced, potentially on March 29th. That would mean that we could begin Morning Prayer on March 31st, and for Easter Week, have our hour of Reflection in church on Good Friday and our services at 7 am and 10 am on Easter day.
After that we plan to hold a weekly Sunday service in church at 10am.
Private prayer in the church
Appropriate safety measures will be in place in line with C of E guidelines. These include hand-sanitizers, restricted areas of the church being available, a one-way system to reach and leave open pews, removal of some contents (hymn books, bibles, kneelers etc) and cleaning. Unfortunately we are unable to open the toilets, apart from the disabled toilet.
For each opening occasion, a Steward will attend to guide those who wish to enter and pray
Anyone wishing to pray in the church is asked to respect the privacy of anyone else present, and must abide by appropriate social distancing. YOU MUST ALSO WEAR A MASK before entering the building
Big thanks are due to those who are preparing the church building for this, and to those who are stewarding and cleaning.
For some this will be a welcome opportunity. Others will not yet wish to enter a church building, or be able to do so. It’s entirely your choice, there is no pressure.
Weddings & Funerals
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. (Anyone working is not included in those numbers). Social distancing of at least 2 meters should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances - for example, an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery; and then only with up to 6 people attending, excluding workers.
You may be rightly concerned about a baptism or wedding that you have booked after 6th January this year. At the moment, we cannot say for certain what the situation will be. Please phone the church office (01404 812062) between 10am and 12 noon for the latest information and for help if you need it. If you receive an answerphone message, please leave your contact details for us to get back to you.
Though, sadly, our beautiful church building is closed for any other activities until further notice under the current restrictions, people from the church are still active and open to any way we can help you if you need it.
If you are lonely and would simply like to talk to someone, please do get in touch.
In the meantime, be assured that prayers are being offered for our community by the churches in Ottery.