Dear Friends,

It is hard to take decisions in these strange times, but the PCC has gathered good information from a questionnaire and has made new plans for August.

From early July the government authorities have permitted church services of limited numbers and under strict distancing arrangements.  The church authorities then turned this permission into clearer guidelines, requiring churches to do rigorous risk assessments and saying we should have a regular service from September at the latest.

The PCC and myself agreed to re-open the church for small shorter services in August.  Here are the details of our decision, which I hope will help you to make a decision on when you might join us.

The St Luke’s Questionnaire received over a hundred responses and these were a good mixture of email and telephone answers.  That is an impressive result for any voluntary questionnaire.  And it gave some clear informationand the PCC has acted on it. 

Some of the results can be examined further in Steve’s statistical analysis in this publication, but here are my highlights:

ONE We recognise that our Sunday Zoom service is an important ‘congregation’ for us.  

56 out of 104 respondents had come to Sunday Morning Zoom ‘most weeks’ out of 63 who were able to.   5 more requested help to join in.   This is encouraging as all of these people just could not fit into one service in church.  Sunday Zoom will need to continue into the Autumn, albeit at a new time of 10.25 for 10.30am  (caused by the proximity of the new church service at 9am).

TWO We asked ‘If we were to start Sunday communion at 9am, would you come?’ and 31 out of 104 said ‘most weeks’, 40 said ‘occasionally’ and 6 were uncertain.  Those projected numbers encouraged us to start as soon as possible (Sunday 2nd August at 9am) and see what happens.  The time is 9am to help previous 10 o’clockers as well as previous 8.30ers.

THREE  We asked ‘Would you come to a restricted form of Wednesday communion at 10.30am?’ and 15 said ‘most weeks’, 26 said occasionally, 8 were uncertain.   This, plus a handful of those who didn’t enter a questionnaire, would make a very worthwhile number for our midweek service.  So we shall start up on the first Wednesday of August, after a rehearsal of the new social distancing arrangements the week before. 

Please tell everyone who would like to know.  We are aware it has been very hard to keep in touch with everyone, and we dearly hope that we can resume regular fellowship with many Christian brothers and sisters in Holmes Chapel and a bit beyond.

We do not wish to make things difficult for anybody.  If you wish to continue shielding at home, please do that, and make the most of our Zoom services, Church website/Facebook and phone calls.   To safeguard everyone, we will expect churchgoers to wear a facemask (as we have to in shops), and social distancing will be required. 

Please refer to the Link guidance sheet which will be available in church.  It has a list of the ways in which we are helping one another keep safe, while at the same time finding renewed encouragement and fellowship in church.  

It won’t be church quite like we would love it to be, but it will be church.  We thank Jesus.

And thank you for your commitment to the Lord and his people,