Following the recent announcement by Premier Mark McGowan of eased ‘Phase Two’ COVID restrictions in WA, and a comprehensive communication from Archbishop Kay on 12 May which set out the options for parishes in responding to the new regulations, I met yesterday evening with Wardens to decide how our parish will proceed.
The new regulations allow for a maximum 20 people to meet for worship in a church, subject to the 1.5m rule (ie. 1.5m between each person other than those in the same household) and the 4 sq m rule (total indoor space must provide for 4 sq m per person). At St Mary’s the full number of 20 persons could be accommodated, however at All Saints there would be a maximum of 10 persons in order to comply with the 1.5m and 4 sq m rules.
Given the number of active parishioners and the numbers that could be accommodated for worship we have decided NOT to open for services on Sundays at this time. I am also aware that there are a significant number of people who would not be able to attend physical services because they are continuing to self-isolate. For this reason the video services available through YouTube and our Swan News blog will continue for the time being.
However we have decided to provide access to both churches on Sunday mornings on a ‘drop-in’ basis beginning on the Feast of Pentecost ie. 31 May. All Saints will be open between 7.30am and 9.00 am, and St Mary’s between 10.00am and 11.30am for quiet prayer and reflection. I will be available at both churches for conversation, and handouts with prayers and short readings will also be available. Ushers (ie. the ‘hosts’) will be on duty to ensure only the maximum permissible number of worshippers are in the church at any one time, and to record details of who attends. Worshippers will be asked to sit in marked locations and wipe down their seat when they leave. You may have to wait for a short time when you arrive at the church (chairs will be provided outside in fine weather), and when you enter the church please be aware that others may be waiting.
I have asked David Zuiddam to recommence the rosters for hosts and cleaners (who clean our buildings before the Sunday worship), and would like to hear from anybody who can volunteer to be rostered as a Disinfector (to do a final disinfection wipe-down both in the church and in the toilet area after Sunday prayers).
Please note that there will be no morning tea offered on Sundays, also there will be no children’s ministry offered at St Mary’s. Families are welcome to bring pencils, crayons etc for their own children, and paper will be provided.
Prior to the lockdown we were also offering a 10.00am Wednesday service of Eucharist at St Mary’s and a 4.30pm Thursday service of Evening Prayer/Meditation at All Saints. These will re-open in the week following Pentecost, ie. from Wednesday 3 June, however the Wednesday service will not include Holy Communion. The service leaders will be responsible to ensure all participants disinfect their hands and that a final wipe-down is performed.
Finally, a formal COVID plan needs to be prepared for each building, and this will be my focus with the Wardens over the next few days. A COVID plan will also enable us to allow hall user groups back into the Minchin Centre with a renewed hall hire agreement, and the Wardens will be responsible for overseeing this.