Rev Chris update 6th December

Dear all,

I’ve had various people asking me about Christmas services and I fully appreciate the desire to know what is going to be happening at this special time. I cannot deny that the way we go about such services is presenting particular challenges and before doing anything it is important to place the need for safety at the top of the list of priorities.

I have to take into account the fact that we are in Tier 3 for a reason, and am aware that cases in Maidstone, and surrounding areas, have been increasing. I am also very much aware that there are people who find coming to church, whether to worship or socially, important for their own wellbeing. This presents a difficult balancing act of ‘expectation’ with practical ‘reality’.

We are working on what we feel to be the best way forward, and I hope to let you know details shortly, but please do bear in mind that this year will be different because we are not able to cater for the usual numbers, some services may not be possible, and for those that do come there will be restrictions in place.

I think everyone is aware of the need to wear face coverings when attending a service, as well as the requirement for social distancing and sanitising when entering the building. I also need to make it clear that social interaction is not permissible.

When coming to church you will need to wait outside, socially distanced, until ushered in and directed to a seat. You must then go directly to that seat without interacting with others on the way. At the end of the service you will be directed to leave and must continue to maintain social distancing without social interaction – this remains the case on church premises, whether inside or outside the building.

Let me assure you that having to impose these rules does not sit comfortably with me, either as your minister, or as a way of presenting the Christian message of hospitality and welcome, and certainly doesn’t feel like a message of ‘love’, but then we all know the saying ‘tough love’. In this case the ‘tough love’ of restrictions isn’t just about protecting ourselves but is also about protecting others, particularly when we are so close to receiving the vaccine that will enable things to start to open up again.

In the circumstances I must apologise for the fact that it isn’t going to be possible to meet everyone’s needs or expectations but please do be patient, and gracious, as we seek to do our level best to enable you to engage with church at Christmas in some way or other.

Let me finish with a more upbeat message that comes on the back of the cancelled Christmas Market that would have taken place this weekend. Mary Gentry has asked me to let you all know that she has an assortment of JAMS, MARMALADE & CHUTNEY for sale, as well as two 7” CHRISTMAS CAKES and PUDDINGS – I can highly recommend Mary’s produce and have relied on her for our chutney supply since arriving in these parishes some years ago. Mary can deliver to your door and will donate any monies collected to church funds – she can be contacted on 678312.

Every blessing,

Rev Chris