Latest Update on Reopening Our Churches
The Witney PCC has met to discuss current plans, and, as before, we expect Minster Lovell will be likely to follow similar lines. Currently we have agreed to stick with the online provision of services because
• the numbers in hospital currently are higher than when we first closed our churches;
• first vaccinations do not bring about a safe situation and people are still getting Covid locally;
• the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021 remains cautious and we can’t see that acting before 12 April is socially responsible;
• we feel very strongly that we want to protect the already exhausted NHS frontline staff as best we can at this traumatic time;
• and finally, we continue to deepen our experience that online worship is no less real and are clear that our worship of the God who comes among us in this season of Lenten discipline and the season of Easter joy will continue to strengthen us in the Faith.
As a benefice we long for the time when our doors can be flung wide again and we can safely welcome in the thousands of people who regularly share in our common life. Witney PCC will review this on April 19 when we hope to make plans for reopening. But for now, I’d like to thank you for your forbearance and understanding at this challenging time.
Guidelines on Attending
As we prepare to re-open our churches for services, please see below summary documents to read before attending a service in one of our buildings.
- Re opening Holy Trinity September 2020
- Re opening St John's Hailey September 2020
- Re opening St Mary's September 2020
The Church of England, in line with government guidance, strongly advises the wearing of a face covering (mask) when attending a place of worship:
“We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.”
Covid Risk Assessments
As we continue to re-open our buildings for occasional offices, risk assessments will be published here.
- St Mary's Risk Assessment 23 July 2020
- St John's, Hailey Risk Assessment 19 August 2020
- Holy Trinity Risk Assessment 22 August 2020
Our Covid Measures
The Rector, Wardens and PCCs take health and safety responsibilities very seriously. Working with wardens, we have developed the National Church’s Covid Risk Assessment for our activities. Our aim is to provide staff with a safe workplace, and for pilgrims, prayers and visitors, a space where our beautiful churches are safe to reopen with restricted activities within the current climate.
- We have carried out Covid-19 risk assessments and shared the results with the people who work here. The current risk assessment for St Mary's is available here; we will update as others become available
- We have cleaning, hand-washing, and hygiene procedures in line with guidance in place;
- We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a two metre distance in the workplace and within the churches as they reopen;
- Certificates/Signs confirming compliance with the Government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19 are displayed in all appropriate areas;
- Clear visitor guidance is in place as we begin to reopen our churches.
Thank you for your patience and whether you are able to visit, or have to remain at home for now, please know that you are cherished by God and as a part of our Benefice.
If you have any particular concerns please contact the Rector or a warden.
Useful COVID resources
- Oxford Diocese: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for parishes
- Church of England: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches
- Full Fact, to make sure the information you're seeing online is accurate
- Mind, to get advice on how to manage any stress or anxiety that you may be feeling right now
- DeathLife: Christian resources for living well in the light of mortality
- Cruse Bereavement Care have put together a set of resources about how bereavement and grief may be affected by this pandemic. It covers some of the different situations and emotions bereaved people may have to deal with.