I hope you are all keeping safe as we come out of this lockdown.
If anyone has gone through the experience of losing someone to covid-19 ( or more people) during this lockdown, I hope you all have found some comfort in the power of prayer and have been in settings of peaceful and safe environments where you can remember loved ones in the most natural way that they should be remebered.
Today’s post is not the usual Sunday post, but an update to tell you all where we are in our program of getting Manor Road Church back to being re-open again after being in a lockdown for five and a half months, due to the pandemic of coronavirus (covid-19).
Firstly, I have a confession for all of you.
Our last published blog was on the 12th of July, and I did (indeed) promise you all that I would keep you all updated on news coming from the church, as well as news coming in from our local synod.
I regret to say, I have not kept to this promise, and for that: I AM SINCERELY SORRY, IN NOT BEING ABLE TO KEEP YOU ALL UP TO DATE, OF WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES OF MANOR ROAD UNITED REFORMED CHURCH IN RECENT MONTHS.
When I published this post on the 12th of July, I imagined our church would be able to sail through this lockdown with ease and any issues that the church elders would have to tackle, would NOT be one of struggle, because if there is anything that our church elders have in abundance, it is perseverance. I certainly knew the church elders would get through the process of finding ways of re-opening Manor Road Church again because we are lucky to have our past minister of our church: The Revd. John Campbell helping us and the church elders natural deep perseverance of determination in re-opening the church building again.
What I really did not take into consideration, was the amount of work this would actually place on the Revd. John Campbell.
The Revd. John Campbell is not just looking after our church in the structures of re-opening the church building; he is also looking after three other church buildings as well in the structures of opening their churches.
As churches we are ALL basically in the same boat in the enormous tasks we have to grapple with in re-opening our own individual churches.
It is a way of church management that no individual church has EVER been in before in EACH individual church history.
Each church has to follow deep instructions in how it keeps its buildings clinically clean and safe in these strange times we are living in, under the earth skies of a world-wide pandemic.
What this means for Manor Road Church ( at this present time) is that even though the church elders have had a zoom meeting to discuss the predicaments our church is facing and the certain tasks we need to do as elders to keep our building safe, the process of our church having these individual meetings with the Revd. John Campbell that was discussed at the zoom meeting is actually going at a slow pace, because The Revd. John Campbell has to deal with EACH church building’s natural requirements of keeping each building safe, under the safety rules and regulations of COVID-19.
At Manor Road Church, Our Church Treasurer (Helen Fania ) Church Officer (Fitz Howard) Myself-Roger Howard (Health and Safety Officer), and Revd. John Campbell had a meeting on the 20th of August 2020 to discuss our Risk Assessment Document. We ALL wore safety masks as well as keeping protcals of safety distancing from each other.
The Risk Assessment Document is a document that takes ALL criteria that the church elders have to abide by, in keeping their church building safe from the spread of COVID-19 entering the church building as well as the criteria in keeping individuals safe in the building, while there is a pandemic out there. We spent over 2 hours going through this document and John said he would send the final document to the elders meeting, the following week for the church elders to discuss it.
We held an Elders Meeting the following week in the church 27th August 2020 ( again ALL church elders wearing masks) and keeping social distancing protocols.
The Revd. John Campbell gave the church elders the final risk assessment document which is now called ‘Church Re-opening Risk Assessment post -Coronavirus Lockdown’. He explained to the church elders the rules in how the document is marked-up, also with his various notes in various sections in the document, of what our church should be doing in certain scenarios of keeping the church 100% safe ( free of) the infections of covid-19.
The Revd. John Campbell also went through the whole document with the church elders, which he has titled “Manor Road United Reformed Church, Stoke Newington N16′ (Notes to the pre-opening risk assessment completed on 20th August 2020).
There are headings in the document titled: Preparing the building for re-opening, Social Distancing, Cleaning and Additional risks associated with opening for public worship.
The Revd. John Campbell has also now implemented a Manor Road United Reformed Church Safeguarding Policy August 2020. This is a policy where our church takes a pledge of rooting out any form of abuse that could ever happen in our church.
I have been given the new role of being the Safeguarding Policy Officer for the church. I shall be attending a zoom meeting for this role tomorrow.
There will be New rules and regulations that visitors will have to abide by, when we eventually return back to Manor Road Church. I will give you all synopsis next week of what this would include for our congregation as well as for visitors to the church.
There will be new rules and regulations for our community hall users groups in keeping themselves safe, as well as their community group in the church building.
Each community group will be told to clean their designated area when they have completed their community group meeting. This cleaning process would take up to 1 and a half hours to complete.
Every Community User Group will also be given a new contract that takes into consideration the importance of safety while in the building. This New contract has to be signed by Community Hall User Leaders.
The process of community hall groups using the hall and cleaning their designated areas afterwards, means the process that we had before of groups using the hall ( especially on Sundays) cannot be the same, as it was previously. In particular for Sundays, the day will be too long.
For the seriousness of Covid-19, The Revd. John Campbell has instructed that only the Church Worship Room can be used for ANY Group Meeting. This is a direct order instruction for Manor Road Church Congregation and Community Hall User Groups.
Because of this particular ruling, it may mean that Manor Road Church would only be able to hold church services twice a month. This is a ruling that John and the Church Elders have not (as yet) made a final decision on.
But if the church makes this as a final decision, it would mean for the Sundays that Manor Road Church is NOT holding Sunday services, our church would allocate to another Sunday Church Group.
I will keep you updated next week of the rules and regulations that the congregation and visitors will have to abide by when they return back to Manor Road Church.
I will also keep you all updated if we have any further news from our church elders in our plans of re-opening the church building again.
We are awaiting instructions in having further church meetings with the Revd. John Campbell.
As I have said before our Interim Moderator ( The Revd. John Campbell) is a very busy man indeed. We have to just be a little more patient here.
But let me give you some hope here and say that the Church Elders and The Revd. John Campbell are on the same page and all are working very hard together in finding the solutions of re-opening Manor Road Church Building again.
There is still an awful lot of work to do , but I don’t believe that there will be too much struggle here, because we are all passionate in not letting our efforts of re-opening the building drag-on for months on end.
Take Care Everybody.
Have a Very Good Week and Keep Yourselves Very Safe Out There.
Roger Howard. Editor.