Are we open?
Depends what you mean by “open”. Still, great news that from 15 June we can start to use our church for a bit of its proper purpose: to provide folk with an opportunity to offer prayer and praise to God. I say “a bit” because all we can do is allow individuals (or family groups) to sit in the church and use their own resources for worship. There are to be no services. We are yet to evolve a plan for when the church will be open (days, times) but I can assure anyone that at any reasonable time of day or evening I can open the church to allow entry if they ring me. Gail and I are, with minor exceptions, here on site all the time.
The other part of the good news is that we will be able to allow funerals to take place in the church (not only at the graveside or at the Crem). There will be various restrictions, however. For example, a limit on numbers, and no singing. Maybe some families would still prefer a graveside ceremony. At least that way all those who come to pay their respects could see what was going on – providing they stood at a distance and kept 2 metres apart from each other. We await detailed guidance as to what can and cannot be allowed.
Personally, I think it is unfortunate that these easings have come so late in the day. In the same way as people have argued that the mess with school reopening is a sign that schools are considered less important, so we could say ditto for churches. This seems especially disturbing given that churches should be there to bring comfort and solace at times of distress. It’s as if we as Christians are made to do our business with our hands tied behind our backs.
But let’s celebrate what is now possible. Even if people don’t come to pray, symbolically we are saying:
We are starting to open for business. We want you to know that we are here for you. We are praying for you, and would welcome your participation in those prayers.