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The Ark

Coming out of Lockdown

Sun July 18th, 2021

Sometimes that which seems simplicity itself ends up being very complicated.

I don’t know about you but personally I feel like I have had enough of masks in church.

Two weeks ago when we knew that we would be able to sing on the 25th July, the talk amongst the local ministers was about having a mass mask burning. This week everyone had held leadership meetings and now had a very different viewpoint – in fact all the churches were talking about keeping masks. The one church with a different view had decided that masks would have to be worn until people were sat down when they could be removed, but the rest of the time they would have to be kept on.

What has happened to bring about this change?

The first thing is the real debt we all have to love one another.

The astronomic rise in new cases locally has got to the point where everyone knows someone who has been told to isolate. Lots of children are ill, whereas most of them are not seriously ill, a significant number are. It got to the point that Fulford School couldn’t carry on until the summer holidays with staff and pupils off sick, so they closed already. Some of the local schools that have carried on until the start of the holidays have done so with as many as 400 children off school and a huge chunk of their staff too.

Now that we double jabbers are doing well, all of a sudden we are hearing about local children who are quite ill with COVID, like a friend of mine in York has a very poorly 16 year old daughter.

As a tourist destination at a time when it is hard to leave the country, we are getting a lot of carriers spreading their wares in York too.

In general, we double jabbers are 90% safe, but what about the other 10%?

Four weeks ago France re-opened after lockdown only to close down again at the start of this week – only three weeks of freedom!

As church leaders, I am speaking for the wider leadership as well as myself,  we have a responsibility to those people who come through the doors and whereas I don’t want to ever go back to how it has been the last 16 months, potentially we might have to in a few weeks if the levels of cases become unbearable.

As Christians we like to be victorious all the time, and to be fair, we haven’t lost a single member of this church to COVID -  but we have taken precautions and had God fighting for us.

I know that God will always fight on our behalf, but what if we drop our guard – what if we start acting contrary to the way of love? I trust God and I believe God, but I also know that God expects us to play our part and so for the moment, until local cases start to fall, we cannot totally remove the precautions that we have had these past months.

We will take a look every week to see if matters change, but for the moment, we will leave the following precautions in place:

-         The one way system is still to be followed

-         The use of hand sanitiser and handwashing is to continue.

-         Whereas we are releasing some of the chairs, there will still be some social distancing in church. More than anything we ask you to bear in mind that some people are a little anxious and may not be as comfortable as you are. Please don’t offer a hug as some people find themselves not wanting to offend by saying “NO” yet are very anxious about personal contact. This will come back with time…it might only be a few weeks, but please don’t just assume.

-         We will be introducing singing again next Sunday (hopefully for good)

-         But except for those with genuine health exemptions, please continue to wear a mask at the moment. Singing with a mask on hardly impacts the volume, but it does help stop the spread of spray from our mouths.

-         Kids church will be available every week from 5th September and will be available beforehand whenever we have the people available to staff it.

-         We are working on the return of drinks at the end of the service, this may happen next week or may just be a little while longer.

We are provisionally planning a great programme for the autumn - watch this space!

Please remember we will look at this each week from now on and we will slowly remove these COVID restrictions.

I hope that this will not be too much of a disappointment to you, but lets rejoice together that God remains with us.