Sunday 8 November 2020 - Online Act of Remembrance 12.30pm

Pencaitland Parish Church
Worship Consultation & Way Forward

We’re very grateful to everyone who took the trouble to return the recent questionnaires. The point of the exercise was to obtain a pastoral snapshot of how folk are feeling about restarting worship in the church building. The key questions we’ve had to consider are when, where, how and how frequently we should do so. These are not easy decisions and we wanted to give people some input in the making of plans.

FEEDBACK: Questionnaires were sent out in both Ormiston and Pencaitland towards the end of July, with returns coming back over a 4-week period. As expected, there were quite a range of views – some of which may have changed a bit since questionnaires were first returned. Without going through all the details, a little less than half were expressing a desire to restart as soon as possible. A few indicated we should wait a little while longer, while others expressed a greater hesitancy.

In response to a question about when people might ‘feel comfortable coming back to church’, the results were again fairly evenly divided. Just under half were ‘ready now’, a good number were looking for restrictions to ease more, and a few were unsure.

Similar divergence was also in evidence when we asked whether people would prefer to continue with online Sunday Devotions. A significant proportion from both churches stated they would rather do so meanwhile. Added together, and compared with those indicating they would like to return either to the Ormiston or the Pencaitland buildings, the online preference comprised the largest single grouping.

Interestingly, on most questions throughout the questionnaire, the same proportions were repeated nearly identically across both churches.

EVALUATION: When all these things are considered it effectively means that, at least for the time being, we need to think in terms of three congregational groupings:

Those worshipping in Ormiston ~ Those worshipping in Pencaitland ~ Those worshipping online

WAY FORWARD (meantime): No doubt we all recognise there can be no ‘return to normal’ at present. It’s a fluid situation nationally and there are considerable constraints on what we can actually do when we return to worship in the buildings. The challenge is about how to balance things, given the variety of perspectives across the churches. All of us are in different situations and each have our own thoughts. We wish to respect that, while also allowing room for things to evolve. Consequently, we have agreed to recommence Sunday services, albeit in a different format, while also retaining Sunday Devotions online.

•    For an experimental period, throughout September, there will be a 9.30am service in one or other of the church buildings. This will alternate between Pencaitland and Ormiston and will last for 30-40 mins. It will be pitched at a level hopefully suitable for any children attending.

•    Online devotions will continue, but at the altered time of 10.45am. It will be hosted in the usual way and will retain its current format.  

•    On alternate Sundays, when services are in Ormiston, the Pencaitland building will be open for private prayer from 9.30 to 10.15am. This is for anyone who wishes to come and go during that time. It will also provide for any who wish to make use of the building but are not yet ready to meet in a larger group context. Some of course may wish to worship in Ormiston those Sundays or join online devotions later on.

Returning to worship in the buildings is a process and this way of doing things should be considered a temporary measure, rather than a long-term solution. Yet hopefully there will be something for everyone in this smorgasbord of options. We will review things after four Sundays and consider what is appropriate as our next step thereafter.

A Note of Thanks
Thank you so much for all the prayer, patience and good humour over the last months. It’s been difficult and testing for everyone, but with a remarkable sense of goodwill. Office-bearers from both churches have given many hours (much of it online) to sustain things and bring us to the point of reopening the buildings for worship. Please continue to be patient with yourself, each other, and us too as we each try to work out how best to negotiate things. It will take time to find our feet and clarify what’s appropriate in going forward longer term. We all need each others’ prayers. Every blessing, DT

Summary for Each Week in September

Below is a summary for each week. These have been continued into October but, as we will review things before then, please remember to check what is happening nearer the time.

Sunday   6th – 9.30 service, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.
Sunday 13th – 9.30 service, Ormiston. 9.30 Private Prayer, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.
Sunday 20th – 9.30 service, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.
Sunday 27th – 9.30 service, Ormiston. 9.30 Private Prayer, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.

October (provisional)
Sunday   4th – 9.30 service, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.
Sunday 11th – 9.30 service, Ormiston. 9.30 Private Prayer, Pencaitland. 10.45 Online Devotions.

Services – Important Information

We look forward to welcoming you to any/all of these services. There are a number of obligations we are required to fulfil in holding services. There are also a few further requirements we have had to put in place in order to keep people safe and facilitate the smooth running of things.

ATTENDANCE: We are required by law to keep a note of everyone who attends, plus a means of contact. This is part of the Test & Protect procedure across the country. These will be retained securely for 28 days and then disposed of.

BOOKING: Please let us know by 1pm each Friday if you wish to attend the following Sunday service in either Ormiston or Pencaitland, along with names of anyone else who will be with you. This will help avoid delays on entry and assist in the allocation of seats. Please note that there is a restriction on numbers. So, if plans change and you are not able to attend after all, we’d be grateful to know. If you forget to book, we will endeavour not to turn you away but it may result in delays to others.

For Pencaitland, please ring or email Eileen Henderson: 01875 340482
For Ormiston, please ring or email Margaret Jarvis: 01875 614506

ARRIVAL: Please arrive in good time, as it may take a little while to get everyone seated. Entry will be by the Winton aisle door on the north side. If there are delays in allocating seats, you will be able to shelter inside if the weather is unpleasant.

SEATING: In order to maintain 2m distancing, there are only certain places you will be able to sit. Someone will direct you to your seat when you arrive. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee you will be able to sit where you usually do, or where you would like to.

CUSHIONS: Please be aware that all cushions have had to be removed. However, you are welcome to bring your own if you wish.

PERSONAL ATTIRE: As the outside door will remain open, it will be difficult to maintain the temperature in the building when it’s cooler. We advise being ‘weather aware’ and suitably dressed.

FACE COVERINGS: Unless under age 5 or exempt for medical reasons, everyone must wear face coverings in the church. If you haven’t one with you, disposable masks will be available. Please take it home with you afterwards.

SANITISER: This will be available at a table when you enter. Please use it on entry and exit from the building. Gloves are available if you wish to use them. Please do not wear your own gloves in church.

COLLECTION: There will be a collection plate near the door when you arrive. It will not be passed around or brought to the communion table during the service.

SINGING: Unfortunately we will not be able to sing. Any music will be by means of CD.

SOCIALISING: Please conduct all conversations outside, while respecting a 2m distance.

REFRESHMENTS: No tea or coffee will be offered at the end of services at the moment.

TOILETS: The Carriage House will be open for the use of the toilets just inside the entrance.

August/September 2020

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