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Thursday 28th May 2020

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Sunday will be our celebration of Pentecost and our worship will highlight this great festival of the Church. You can access the worship in the usual manner, through the Worship page of this website and on the telephone if you do not have a computer, ipad, smartphone or television which can access YouTube.

You will all be aware that from Monday 1 June 2020 some of the restrictions on activities are being lifted. Most notably, it becomes possible for schools and early years childcare facilities to recommence their work. The Circuit has two early years projects – Red Robin Preschool at Gravelhole and St Andrew's Preschool. Following a risk assessment, Red Robin has decided not to open for any children. St Andrew's has decided to open only for the children of key workers as and when required. The principle reason for this decision is that the nature of the space makes it impossible to guarantee the safety of the children and staff were there to be a full cohort of children on the premises. 

Some of you may know people who are teachers and who have continued to work in various ways during the pandemic. Most have been conducting their teaching activities from home and some have been present in schools. Teachers and all others whose work is within schools now face going back to their posts on a full time basis. Please pray for them as they lead the way in working towards the new normal which shall be post-pandemic Britain.

Some of you have been in touch asking what the position is about opening the churches in early July as stated in the Government 'roadmap' a couple of weeks ago. It is important that we all recognise that the timing of such an opening was a very tentative suggestion about which firm decisions have not yet been made. It is also important to recognise what that opening will enable and what it will not allow to happen. Whilst our building might be allowed to open for some activities, it is highly unlikely that public worship will commence in July. I am aware that the preaching plan runs out at the end of June, but do not yet intend to spend time in creating one which continues on from July. There shall be time enough to make provision when we are given notice of public acts of worship being permissible. It continues to be the case that baptisms and marriage service are not permitted and that funeral services are extremely limited.

Recent guidance has come to me via the Chair of District which helps us to consider what needs to be done in our buildings in order to make provision for those activities which take place in them which are becoming permissible.

Opening the Church Building for the First Time

During the previous phase of lockdown, churches were encouraged to carry out regular property checks, but we appreciate that this was not always possible or practical for some trustees. It is therefore crucial that churches adopt a formal process when reopening parts of their properties to ensure that they are safe and fit for purpose before allowing them to be used again under this guidance.

Where possible, the initial assessment for reopening a property should be undertaken remotely in association with your church property steward and the managing trustees or other church members and not one individual. This is to ensure an organised and planned approach which brings collective decision making to the process. The Connexional Property Team have produced detailed guidance and a printable checklist & risk assessment, so please refer to this for this additional information. You can get hold of a copy of this information by going to the Connexional Website HERE.

Other Matters to Consider to Allow Use

Once a building has been opened and initial checks completed, other matters must be considered and any adaptions implemented before it can be used. All of these are covered in the Connexional Property Team's Risk Assessment guidance. 

In addition, the following specific questions should be considered:

  • Does using the building for this purpose conflict with other users who may now be using the building under the current policy changes – e.g. pre-school or contractors?
  • If so, can an alternative entrance be used to minimise contact with other users?
  • Can a room/space be used which is easily accessible from outside?
  • Can a room/space be used which minimises door opening?
  • Can a room/space be used which has easy access to handwashing facilities?
  • Does using this property at this time, in this way, have any legal or insurance implications?

Procedures for Using the Church Building each time

It is important that you consider the following broad guidance in the context of your specific building and situation. If there are any specific property questions please contact a member of the Connexional Property Team at property@methodistchurch.org.uk

  • Ensure you have a signing-in/signing-out sheet by the door being used for primary access.
  • Co-ordinate any property visits with church members who may be carrying out other activities e.g. the weekly property check. If any activities can be combined to reduce access to the building or essential travel then this is encouraged.
  • If you are alone, ensure you are working in accordance with your church's lone working policy.
  • Ensure you are using the building in accordance with church security & fire risk procedures.
  • Any books, pens etc. to be used should be brought from home and taken back again afterwards.
  • Ensure hand sanitiser is available at the entrance door for use on entry and exit of the building.
  • Ensure that other hand washing facilities are stocked with soap, paper towels etc.
  • Ensure that there are cleaning products easily available so that cleaning of surfaces which may be touched can easily be cleaned after using the room e.g. door handles, light switches etc.

If for any reason others may be unavoidably using the building at the same time, please follow government guidance around social distancing and your church's own risk assessment provisions.

If you wish to discuss any of the procedures outlined, or need further advice, then please do contact me in the fist instance. I can then help you to find the answer to your concern, either from my own resources or by putting you in contact with the appropriate member of the Methodist Connexional Team.

I hope that all remains well, please let me know if there is anything that you need.

Blessings abound!

The Rev Dr Adrian Burdon
Superintendent Minister
Shaw & Royton Circuit of the Methodist Church


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