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Coming to a Eucharist in Church – What to expect

It is a wonderful step forward to be able to offer public worship again at St James as restrictions are eased.

It’s particularly wonderful to offer a Eucharist which is of central importance in the life of the church. In this sacred meal we celebrate and give thanks for all Christ has done for us in dying and rising again and we know his presence with us in bread and wine, ‘the body and blood of Christ’. It’s a service of such deep meaning, mystery and significance!

At the service our priority is everyone’s safety and all guidelines will be adhered to and social distancing kept.

This means the service will be different from what we are used to and it’s important to have realistic expectations. These guidelines explain what to expect.

Booking:

We can safely accommodate 14 separate households at a service (individuals/couples/families) with a maximum of 28 people in the pews.

In order to monitor numbers to keep everyone safe we are, at least for the first few services, operating a booking system. Please prebook your place for the service you wish to attend. We need to keep the names and contact details of those attending services for 21 days.

Arrival:

Two sidepeople will be on duty to welcome the congregation. To avoid a bottleneck at the entrance socially distanced queuing may be necessary down the west approach to the church. The sidepeople will guide people.

Inside there is a one way system down the church using the three aisles. Orders of service will mark where the congregation can sit. Please take the order of service home with you after the service.

Service:

After the welcome, a recorded hymn will be played while the crucifer and the ministry team process past the pulpit (not down the main aisle) and to their seats. Sadly, no singing is permitted but we can have our spirits lifted by the recorded hymns sung by St Martin in the Field’s choir.

The reading and intercessions will be led from the lectern. Readers will sanitise their hands with gel beforehand at the handgel station by the lectern.

There will be either a Psalm/Old Testament reading/New Testament reading and a Gospel reading.

The gospel procession will stop at the front of the nave, well before the front pews, and the gospel read from there with the crucifer stood at a distance.

At the peace the congregation need to remain socially distanced in their seats but may verbally greet each other. And smiles are not banned!

There will be no collection taken during the service or offertory procession. Donations can be placed in the collection plate at the entrance or exit to the church or made on-line through our givealittle donations page.

A recorded hymn will be played while the altar is prepared after the peace.

Communion:

The priest presiding will sanitise their hands with gel before preparing the altar for communion, before administering communion to the congregation and after administering communion.

The priest will receive the bread and wine first saying loudly, ‘the body of Christ’ and ‘the blood of Christ’ before their receive. The congregation respond ‘Amen’ to each. When the sacrament is distributed individually no words will be said.

At communion, the congregation are invited to come forward row by row remaining socially distanced. Crosses on the floor will mark where to stand. Everyone is asked to sanitise their hands with gel from the dispenser by the lectern as they pass by in preparation to receive the sacrament. Communion will be administered on the top step of the chancel. The priest will wear a mask and drop the sacrament into the person’s hands. No words will be said. Only the bread will be given but this is still ‘complete communion’. It is different to what we are used to and it will feel strange but let’s focus our thoughts on Jesus and his presence with us. That’s what matters! The congregation return to their seats down the south or north side aisle.

Recorded music will be played while communion is distributed. If there are any who are unable to use the stairs up to the chancel the priest will bring the sacrament to them.

At the end of the service a hymn will be played while the altar party process out. They will leave via the south door to be able to greet people, socially distanced of course, in the church yard (weather permitting). The congregation leave through the south door starting with those in the front rows and working backwards.

Livestreaming:

The service will be livestreamed but the congregation won’t be in view. The camera will be positioned at the front of the pews for the first part of the service. After the peace, while the altar is prepared, it will be moved to the chancel. It will show the East window or high altar during communion.

Candles:

It won’t be possible to light a candle during of after the service. But you are warmly invited to light one during open church (Sunday 2pm-4pm).

Please keep socially distanced at all times and if you feel unwell please don’t come to the service but stay at home.

Take care and stay safe.