[Update 04 January 2021
Due to restrictions being in place, we can no longer have in-person services until Government guidance changes. We will continue to have online broadcasts via our “Services/Talks” page.]
It is with great pleasure and excitement that we are looking to open up our building again for worship from Sunday 9 August. The feel of the service will be quite different as we continue to adhere to the latest guidance, but we will still be able to learn, pray, read the Bible, and encounter God together. The feel will likely be more reflective with time for personal engagement. What follows will hopefully answer any questions you have; it has been split into sections to hopefully make it easier to navigate. There is a lot to take in which reflects the fact that we care deeply not just about your spiritual health but your physical (and emotional) health as well.
The service as mentioned will look a little different. The maximum capacity for any religious service is 50 (including stewards, minister, etc), Newhills Church has a physical capacity for 40 attenders. To reach this number we have put the seats in pairs with some triplets as most people tend to come with someone else. Only people from the same household can occupy seats that are together and if someone should come by themselves the seat next to them must be left vacant. We will, therefore, be putting on two services to allow as many people to come as we can, one at 10:00 am and one at 11:30 am. All areas of the church that are in use will be cleaned between the services.
What are you asking me to do?
We are very grateful for your understanding and patience so far, now we must also presume upon your cooperation in the interests of everyone’s safety.
1. We are asking everyone who intends on coming, to let us know which service they wish to attend.
You will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org before midday on the preceding Friday. This would be done for each Sunday that you intend to come. Please use only this email address for pre-registering and no other Newhills related email address. You will receive a confirmation email or possibly one advising you that the intended service is full and asking you to consider the other service. We desperately want to avoid having to turn people away from Church, which to us would be counter to how we understand the open welcome and place of sanctuary that church should be. I can not stress enough how important that letting us know in advance is to hopefully avoid that happening.
• the service you would like to go to, and
• a phone number for Test and Protect purposes (please see point 2).
You can include the names of other intended attendees from your household in this email. Please note that our office is closed so a phone message should not be used for pre-registration. If you do not have access to email, someone else can email on your behalf as long as it contains your personal information and making it clear that it is for a different household.
2. We will be part of the Test and Protect scheme (also known as track and trace, trace and protect).
We will ask you to leave us your name and phone number. If someone has attended one of our services who later transpires to test positive this will allow the NHS to contact all the people who were at that service. If you have pre-registered, we will already have populated the list with your details and all we need to do is confirm your attendance. This should minimise queues at the door. If we do not have your details then we can take them at the door or you can use an APP for your smartphone, tapmydata which will scan a QR code we display. Whichever method you use, we will keep the data in accordance with Data Protection guidelines and it will be destroyed after 21 days. Please be clear when you email that your contact data can be used for this purpose. The relevant Privacy Notice can be read here.
• to wear a face-covering unless medically exempt,
• to sanitise your hands upon entry and exit of the building, and
• to follow the directions of the stewards.
We are asking everyone to enter through the main doors and vestibule and leave through the exit on the opposite side of the sanctuary. It will be similar to a one-way system. We will also be filling up seats starting with the seat nearest the exit to minimise people walking past others. There will be people there to direct you. Your face-covering should be worn the entire time you are inside the building. If you can not wear a face-covering it is essential that if you cough or sneeze etc, that you do so into a tissue. We will have a supply in the church.
Will the toilets be open?
Yes, the toilets will be open, as well as continuing to promote good hygiene we will also need to put in a few other measures. Only one person should walk down the corridor to the toilets at a time and only two people can be in each of the male and female toilet blocks at a time and remaining two metres distanced. There will be someone monitoring the corridor who will be able to let you know if it is safe to proceed. We do ask however that during the service people refrain from using the toilets to minimise movement in the sanctuary but, if necessary, please do use the disabled access toilet.
Are you able to take a collection?
Yes, we will have the open plate on the way in as was normal before lockdown. We also continue to run other ways of giving that do not require physical money through text giving to 70085 or through online giving. Details of both those methods can be found on our website by clicking the donate button or visiting our Giving page.
Do you have anything for young people?
Unfortunately, although children no longer need to socially distance the adult leaders would still need to, which would limit any such activities indoor to no more than three households. This means we would not be able to offer children’s activities that would run parallel to the service, but we will continue to offer Zoom Sunday School which has been running for some weeks now. If a young person came to the service, they would have to stay on their seat as the rest of us. I know for some of the parents I have spoken to that they intend to wait until further easing of restrictions before they would feel comfortable bringing their children. Of course, all are welcome, but we are also conscious we do not want the experience of church for our young people to feel like a negative one.
In what circumstances do you advise people do not come to the service?
The only circumstances we would ask people not to come to the service would be if they are presenting symptoms of Covid-19, have been asked to quarantine or share a household with somebody in either of those two categories. It is important that we do our best to be vigilant about this. The current pausing of shielding means that it is up to the individual whether or not they would like to come to church and are happy that the risk is sufficiently minimised. We completely understand that for some the right time is not quite yet. We will continue to endeavour to make sure all our church family feel valued and included. We will continue to upload content online through our website, YouTube and Facebook and offering CDs of the service. Just for safety and peace of mind, nobody in the ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ group defined by the Scottish Government will be asked to volunteer during the current climate.
One thing we cannot yet do is to restart the offer of official lifts and the use of the minibus to bring people to church; this is purely because of the regulations regarding two metre distancing inside. We are also being asked to remind those attending of these restrictions. We will, of course, restart this as soon as we can.
Now restrictions are lifted, can I get a visit?
OK, so this isn’t quite to do with the service but it’s worth adding it on at the end. The short answer is yes, however subject to physical distancing and appropriate hygiene – for example, I would take my own hand sanitiser with me. It becomes a little complicated because there is a daily limit to how many visits from people from different households you are allowed in one day, the current guidance is two households. Conceivably, if I was to turn up unannounced, I could be preventing a pre-arranged visit. Therefore, visits should be organised in advance, here is an excerpt from our advice,
The invitation to enter a home should always come from the person receiving the visit. This should always be arranged in advance and there should be no pressure felt by the person receiving the visit to allow access to their home should they not feel comfortable.
If you would appreciate a visit, please do let us know. The best way is for you to initiate so that we can be sure, nobody is under any undue pressure.
Thank you for bearing with all this information. I am greatly looking forward to seeing many of you soon and thank you for your cooperation with all of this. While this has been quite long, I hope it has answered all your questions and please don’t feel overwhelmed by any of it. There will be people around to keep us right and to help us all stay safe.
With very best wishes
Bless you all,
Rev Jonny Clipston
t: 01224 712594
m: 07739 459783