Opening of Church Buildings

Dear Friends,

We have welcomed the very good news that our Church buildings can once again be open for individual prayer and ‘small’ funerals, and we long to be able to welcome visitors back to our churches as COVID restrictions are gradually eased. However, we are taking a measured and gradual approach to re-opening and, in fact, very few of the church buildings in the Heart of Norfolk Group ‘qualify’ for re-opening at this time.

The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship includes the requirement to operate a ‘one-way’ flow in and out of the buildings, which means that our single-aisle churches do not qualify. These are: Bawdeswell All Saints; Foxley St Thomas; Twyford St Nicholas; Wood Norton All Saints; and Worthing St Margaret.

Even where buildings have two or three aisles, it is not such a simple issue as opening our Church doors at a stroke. A lot of preparation has to take place to maximise the safety and well-being of all who may enter our churches, and they are complicated buildings, as Archbishop Justin Welby said at the very start of lock-down.

For one thing, we have to pack-away any items that people may touch, such as hymn-books, visitor guides, kneelers,  children’s toys and all printed material. Cleaning is a major issue, given that most of our regular cleaning-teams are volunteers who fall into the ‘at-risk’ groups, and should not be exposing themselves to the risk of contamination.  

Other church buildings which must be kept closed for the time being, as building contractors are on-site are: North Elmham St Mary, Foulsham Holy Innocents and Stibbard All Saints. We hope to be able to open these churches when the works are complete.

Bintree St Swithun and Themelthorpe St Andrew are in the care of the Diocese of Norwich Churches Trust, who have advised that these churches should remain closed until further notice.

If you would like information on the rest of the Group (Billingford, Guestwick and Guist), please contact the HON Office on 01362 668850 or at heartofnorfolkchurches@gmail.com

I was reminded, right at the start of lock-down (following a post I had put up on Nextdoor) that the Church is not the buildings, but the people. The buildings are, of course, important to us, but my correspondent was absolutely right. The Church – Ecclesia in Greek – is the gathered people of God. In our Christian context, we are the Body of Christ, wherever, and however, we gather together and even when we pray alone.

The Heart of Norfolk Group continues to meet each Sunday at 10.30am for worship via Zoom. Please do be in touch if you would like to join us!

With my prayers and best wishes,
Revd Sally

Team Rector

 


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