Arrangements for church attendance during Covid-19 pandemic
With the blessing of Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, we have been able to remove some of the restrictions around church attendance necessitated by the Covi-19 pandemic. In order to maintain a peaceful and inclusive atmosphere in among the congregation which includes people with compromised health, you are nevertheless asked to take note of the following provisions:
1. Although not required by law, in the interests of the peace and wellbeing of all our community, I would ask that you continue to wear a mask or face covering at services, in particular when the church is crowded (eg the Sunday Liturgy), or when there is no possibility to stand at a distance of more than one metre from your neighbour.
2. It is now permitted to venerate the Cross, the holy icons and relics by kissing them, with or without a mask, and to kiss the priests’ hands on receiving a blessing from them. It is also perfectly acceptable to continue to venerate these without making physical contact (by bowing or some other gesture of reverence). The icon cases will be cleaned thoroughly between services, and we will continue to provide hand sanitiser throughout the church for those wishing to use it.
3. As there is no longer a requirement to limit numbers in church, the online booking system for services will be discontinued. All services will now be open to anyone who wishes to attend. We will endeavour to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at regular intervals during the week, so that those wishing to attend church with more space and less crowding may do so. We will continue to display a QR poster for those using the ‘Track and Trace’ system, but we will not be asking people to leave their contact details at services.
4. We will return to celebrating the services in our usual way. The way in which the clergy cense the church and icons, the processions, the Great Entrance at the Liturgy and so on will all return to our regular practice, requiring members of the congregation to move peacefully out of the way from time to time to allow the servers and clergy to pass by. Holy Communion will be distributed in the normal manner, and the antidoron and zapivka (the blessed bread and wine and water) after Communion will be offered in the traditional way. The Creed and the Lord’s Prayer will now be sung by the choir, with congregational participation permitted.
5. Confessions will now normally take place after the Saturday evening service, before the Sunday Liturgy and by appointment during the week. Confessions will not be heard during the Divine Liturgy, and there will no
longer be a general confession or absolution during the Liturgy, except in special circumstances. For the time being,
it is asked that masks should be worn during confession.