Update from Great Shelford Free Church

Following the leadership meeting on Monday 6th July I wanted to write to update the Church on our current thinking. This has been a challenging and testing time for our church community and some will be frustrated that things have not got back to normal after the government’s guidelines changed. It’s true we could have people in the building but there are limitations that have led the leadership team to agree this should not happen until September at the earliest. I would like to set out the challenges that we face that have led us to this position. Although each issue can be overcome individually, they collectively add up to a significant challenge. 
The way that we livestream the services at the moment means that if people were present in the building they would not be able to see the videos and worship songs that are played during our service. This is because of the system Toby and I use; we would need to make investment in new technology to be able to do this. This is something we are currently looking into.
The reality of having people in the building would include these elements:

It will be very weird!
We would not be allowed to sing along to sung worship
We would have a numerical limit on the amount of people in the building and have to record all contact details. This means that not everyone would be able to attend even if they wanted to.
People would need to book in advance 
Our services would need to be all age as providing children’s work and child care would be extremely difficult
We would have to adhere to social distancing
Masks would have to be worn
People would need to arrive and leave separately and not linger outside to chat
We would have to ask everyone to confirm that they were symptom-free
Sanitiser would have to be used
Using the toilets would necessitate them being cleaned by a volunteer in PPE between uses
We would be advised to keep the service as short as possible

We have been without an administrator for a number of months and our policies and practices have become out of date. We are needing to review our Health and safety, Cleaning, Food Hygiene, Safeguarding and GDPR particularly in regard to Covid-19. We are very hopeful we will be able to appoint a new administrator to begin in mid August to help prepare for the building be open in September.
We are aware that although the rules have changed there would be a considerable number within our Church community who would be vulnerable and unwilling to be in a building with others.
A significant part of our thinking and praying has been around what gathered church should look like going forward . We are wanting to invest in ministries that equip people for the current reality and so have taken the freedom to think big about what our programme might look like. We are aware of all the good that we did as a Church before lockdown and want to prayerfully work through the best way of serving our community both now and in the future.
We have also listened to the BU guidance on not rushing back into the building, and are trying to find ways to actively help those who cannot access our online services.
We are in the process of setting up a consultation with the whole church community to listen to your concerns and encouragements - this will be happening in the next few weeks.
We all need to accept that whatever the gathered Church looks like in the future it will not be the same as the past, and we will have to equip ourselves to walk this new terrain with God. A phrase that has spoken to us over the last few weeks has been ‘wide doors and deep wells’. We are planning  to have a week of focused  prayer to help us  discern how God is leading us in this time. I’m excited about how we can grow in love for each other and love for God.

God Bless 
The Leadership Team

Martin Cockerill, 12/07/2020