At the Circuit Meeting which took place last night it was resolved that we would begin to work carefully towards getting back into church buildings for worship. The Church Councils of all our churches meet over the coming couple of weeks and I shall work with them to decide the most appropriate local response.
We shall have a 'mixed economy' of worship into the future. Online worship will continue to be provided for those who do not yet feel comfortable in returning to worship in our church buildings.
Remember that we shall be subject to strict limitations in terms of how many people may attend the worship and each of our buildings will have a different capacity. If you wish to attend you will need to book in ahead and you will need to provide details for track & trace as this is a legal requirement. All of our churches have undergone risk assessment and the Church Stewards and property teams have worked hard to establish the protocols which are required for reopening of the buildings. Be assured that you shall be as safe in attending worship as you are in any other place. I am grateful to those who have spent a lot of time on this process.
Recognise that worship will be different, but shall still be worship. There will be no hymn singing but, where equipment allows, there will be music. Where equipment allows there will still be some of the video material that we have been using in online worship. You will need to wear a mask and if you are in a category which exempts you from so doing then I respectfully suggest that you probably should not yet be attending public worship. I am obliged to emphasise the Methodist Church and government direction that if you are over 70 years of age you should conduct your own assessment of whether you should be yet attending public worship. If you have underlying health issues then, again, I respectfully suggest that you probably should not yet be attending.
I shall let you know as soon as we have a programme of opening our churches for worship organised. Recognise there will be a pause until you see anything happen as I do need to work on creating the provision -- the Church Council will need to agree the provision, the buildings will need to be made ready, the protocols for opening need to be confirmed, a preaching plan will need to be arranged. With luck, we shall have worship in some form in some of our buildings by the end of October.
Remember that it is my intention to maintain the online provision throughout this period, and onward, so that nobody is deprived of worship opportunities or feels under any pressure to be physically present in the building.
Any comments or questions are welcome. Do get in touch if you wish to do so.
The Revd Dr Adrian Burdon
The Methodist Church in Oldham
Shaw & Royton Circuit