Restarting services at BEC - Q&A

August 2, 2020

We are planning to restart our evening service at that church from Sunday 9 September at 6pm.  All being well, we aim to restart morning services on Sunday 6 September at 11am.

You can find answers to some common questions below.  If you have any further questions, please email [email protected] .bruntsfield.org.uk.     

1. When will we be restarting services in the church?

We’re planning to restart evening services on Sunday 9 August. We provisionally plan to restart a morning service, including children’s activities, on Sunday 6 September. Unfortunately, we’re not able at this stage to give a date for restarting the Breaking of Bread, but will do that as soon as it is feasible.

2. Why are we restarting the evening service first?

We believe it’s wise to restart just one service initially and learn from that before resuming others. The evening service was the most suitable because it’s a simpler service, normal attendance is lower than in the morning, children don’t generally come and it gives more time to plan the transition for the morning service from pre-recorded to live-stream.

3. Who can attend the evening service?

  • Numbers will be restricted to a maximum of 50 in line with Government guidance. We will be operating a reservation system, and may have to ask people not to come every week if more than 50 want to attend.
  • If you are ill or have any symptoms of Covid-19 you must not come to church. Symptoms are: a continuous cough; a fever or high temperature (37.8C or higher); and loss of, or change of, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).
  • Those in higher-risk groups, including those who have been shielding, should consider carefully whether they would be wise to come to church. The Government advises them to stay at home as much as possible and to minimise contact with those outside their household. These groups include all over-70s, others who get the yearly flu jab on medical grounds, pregnant women and those who are severely overweight or have a variety of chronic illnesses.

While we will have extensive safety measures in place as detailed below, you must be aware that being with others in an enclosed space carries risk.

4. What safety measures are being put in place?

  • We will have enhanced professional cleaning of the church every week.
  • We will observe strict two-meter distancing. A seating plan has been prepared on this basis.
  • Everyone entering the church will be asked to confirm that they have no symptoms of Covid-19 and will be required to use hand sanitiser from the units at the door.
  • Everyone will be asked to wear an appropriate face covering. We will keep a supply for those who do not bring their own.
  • People will be directed to their seats by stewards. A one-way system will be in operation, and will reverse during the service to allow people to exit through the main doors.
  • Everyone will be able to reach a corridor without having to pass anyone else outside their family should they need to move during the service (e.g. for the toilet or because they feel unwell).
  • Room 2 will be available for anyone who feels unwell during the service to use until they are able to go home or an ambulance arrives. It will be thoroughly disinfected after use.
  • There will be no mingling in the church before or after the service. No food or drink will be served, though bottled water will be available if needed.
  • We will retain contact details of everyone at the service for 21 days in case anyone there is diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • 5. What time will the service be?
  • We have provisionally said it may be at 6 o’clock. The earlier time is partly to help those who may be wary about coming out when it is dark. We would consider moving to an earlier time in the afternoon if that suited people better.

    6. How can I reserve a place at a service?

    This will mainly be through online registration at https://doodle.com/poll/p9b9y24bb3qf7fds. You will be asked to indicate which Sundays you would like to attend, and will receive an email confirming which you have been allocated a place for. We also have facilities for those without internet access to provide the information by phone, and will give some priority to those who aren’t able to join services online.

    If you are allocated a place at a service and are subsequently unable to attend, please let us know so that we can offer it to someone else. Please do not attend if you haven’t been allocated a place. There will be a small number of unreserved seats each week for visitors to the church.

    7. What if I’m not allocated a place?

    We plan to make the evening service available live on Zoom. Details of how to access it will be provided nearer the time.

    8. What will the service look like?

    We plan to keep the evening service simple to begin with. There will be a few songs on-screen (no singing), prayer, Bible reading, a sermon and communion. In total, the service will be for a maximum of an hour.

    9. How will communion work?

    Bread and grape juice will be placed at each allocated seat before the service, following strict hygiene procedures. Those at home are invited to join in, using their own bread and juice/wine.

    10. What about the morning service?

    We are provisionally planning to restart the morning service on Sunday 6 September. A lot of planning is still required for this, particularly because numbers wanting to attend are likely to be higher and we also have to decide how we will accommodate families. At this stage, we’re thinking that children will be kept separate with their own programme in the back area of the church, but that will depend on a number of factors, including what Government restrictions remain in place then.

    Initially, a large part of the service may be the same as the pre-recorded service on YouTube, though we expect the sermon, at least, to be live. Over time, we expect to move towards a normal Sunday morning service, which will be live-streamed on YouTube.

    11. What about the Breaking of Bread?

    We are committed to restarting the Breaking of Bread as soon as it is feasible, but in the short term we could not manage anything like the normal service:

    • No singing or hymn books are allowed.
    • Prayers, readings etc. by those in the pews would carry a Covid-19 transmission risk as they projected their voices.
    • We would need a significant gap between it and the morning service to allow time for cleaning etc. During that time, the congregation would need to leave the church.
    • Many of those who normally attend are elderly or infirm, and might well not feel able to come to church at present.

    We are planning to arrange communion every Sunday evening in the short term, which people can join at home if they wish to.

    12. Will the YouTube services continue?

    We plan to have a morning service on YouTube for the foreseeable future, either pre-recorded or live-streamed from the church. The evening message will not be on YouTube once we return to the church, but it will be live on Zoom and audio recordings of the messages will be available.

    13. Will the Zoom prayer meetings continue?

    We will continue daily prayer times on Zoom every evening at 8pm at least until the end of August, except that when we have our Sunday evening service on Zoom we won’t then have the prayer time. We will review the daily prayer time before the end of August, recognising that it has been a real blessing to pray together so regularly, and it is particularly appreciated by some who would not manage to a prayer meeting at the church, but it is also unlikely to be sustainable on a daily basis as things return to normal.

    14. When will we return to more normal services?

    That’s impossible to say at present. We will follow Government guidance, and make changes as the restrictions are relaxed. We recognise that everyone will miss some key elements of our usual worship, including singing and enjoying fellowship together, but safety must clearly be our top priority.

    15. What about other activities?

    We will restart other activities at the church when it is safe to do so, based on Government guidance. Meanwhile, a number (small groups, Grove 92, [email protected]) will continue through Zoom.

    16 .Can I give to the church when there are no offering bags or boxes?

    Yes! We’re really grateful to many who have given generously during the lockdown period. You can give to the church through cheque, electronic transfer or Standing Order. For more information, please contact Ian Naismith ([email protected] or 07581 700096).

    17. What if I have more questions?

    Please email [email protected] or ask any elder or trustee you are in contact with.