By Rachel Fitzgerald
After more than three months away from the building, the concept of reopening and returning feels daunting to all of us, I suspect. Rest assured that both the church council and the building staff are taking their responsibilities seriously in thinking through the risk assessments, systems and policies that we’ll need in place before we can safely bring people back into the building.
You should all have received a survey recently asking for your thoughts and feelings about returning to the building (if you haven’t received it, please contact me on the details below and I will send you a copy!). I would urge you to fill this in if you haven’t already done so as it will really help to inform our plans, particularly with reference to worship in the building.
Worship and church activities will continue online for the foreseeable future, until a plan for returning can be drawn up that suits the majority of our needs. It has been wonderful to hear of how many people have been able to access the Augustine community online and been so enriched by it – a real bonus of lockdown that we will take with us into the new normal.
We are, of course, also in touch with our wider community of regular hirers too, many of whom are (thankfully!) keen to return to us. Based on a very small number of direct requests, our current aspiration (Government guidance allowing) is to open in midAugust for external groups to use our rooms in much reduced numbers and with various restrictions in place. This will allow us to test gently the new ways of working we will have established. Although the building will technically be open at this point, all event attendees will have to pre-book and we won’t be able to operate in our usual ‘drop in’ way. I know this will be a disappointment for some but know that we’ll be doing our level best to get things back to normal as soon as we can.
Feeling our way back into the physical closeness of community that we experienced in pre-pandemic times is going to take time, patience and understanding on all our parts. We all have such a different approach to risk and for such different reasons. Trying to find a middle ground that works for everyone right now is hard but I know we’re all doing our best to forge the path ahead with grace.
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