Kingfisher Church // Plans to reopen our churches

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Here’s a statement from our senior pastor, James Burn, detailing the plans that we have to try and start meeting together again in some form.

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Transcript of the video

As lockdown restrictions ease and an increasing number of organisations are allowed to open their doors in one form or another, Government rules regarding places of worship have recently changed too. From July 4th, it is permissible for churches to meet – with various restrictions – for services. Whereas for weddings, the congregation size is limited to 30 people, for Sunday services, the size is limited to the number of people that can be accommodated whilst implementing all of the guidelines that that the Government has published. At Kingfisher, both Tredworth and Westgate, we have been planning and preparing for this and now we would like to lay out for you the plan that we have for a safe and secure return to physically meeting together for public worship.

Whilst the government is easing restrictions from July 4th, we are aiming to relaunch physical services in the form that we are about to describe from Sunday August 23rd. So, here is what we are proposing:
Tredworth and Westgate will relaunch on the same day. The first two weeks back we will be regarding as ‘dress rehearsals’ to test and review our procedures. This will be on the basis of people volunteering to be a part of these ‘test and evaluation’ Sundays. We will, therefore, launch fully from the beginning of September.

Having modelled the requirement for social distancing ( 2 metres apart, 1 metre+ where that is not possible, but wearing face masks), we will only be able to admit 48 people to the Tredworth building and 20 people to the Westgate building, even with families grouped closer together. It is important to note that the current online services (10am, 11am and 6pm) will continue to be provided in their current form, at least until the end of September, at which point they will be reviewed. Making physical church available is not, at this point, a replacement for the online services, but an addition, a first step back towards normality.

The services will include children’s ministry and full risk assessments have been done for both Westgate and Tredworth. All risk assessments will be made available online as per Government requirements by the end of July.

Owing to the restrictions on numbers, we will need to implement a ‘booking system’ for people wishing to attend ‘live’ services. Not everyone will wish to – or be medically able to – take this step in the early days of this transition, so please don’t feel that we have suddenly made it really difficult for people to go to church. We are merely taking the first step towards enabling everyone to meet together to worship again. There will be a booking system online that will enable everyone to have access to physical church services at least once or twice a month and that will be made available and explained in the coming weeks. Again, the current online services will remain in place alongside this.

To comply with the 1 metre + rule, we will need to wear face masks for the time we are in the building. As part of the ‘new normal’ it is likely that many of us will by now have our own masks and be at least somewhat used to wearing them. However, we will be supplying single-use face masks at the door for those who turn up without one. We will continue this at least for an initial period to enable us all to get used to bringing our own – or a face covering of some description. There will be hand sanitising stations both at the entrance door and easily accessible places in each building. The children in particular will be directed to wash their hands and use sanitiser.

The services will need to look somewhat different to what we have previously been used to. Government guidelines dictate that there is no corporate singing, and no loud music that would necessitate raised voices to be heard…so we will have to be creative in terms of how we worship God during these services.

There will be new entry procedures into the buildings. For Tredworth this will mean entering via the fire exit door by the office and going into the main hall via Little Fishes. The exit will remain as the main door, thus creating a one-way system. For Westgate, our meeting place will be moving from Chuckaboos to The Cavern, which gives easy access from Westgate Street. The toilets will be available in both buildings, but their won’t initially be refreshments.

For Tredworth, Fusion and the children about to go up to Fusion from Little Fishes will meet in the Jungle Room, with the younger children – the babies and toddlers – staying in the main service, with parents to the rear of the main hall.

For Westgate, Action Pack will continue to meet in the place where it normally meets. As I say, full risk assessments with details of the plans for children’s activities will be made available to all parents.
Deep cleaning of both venues is currently underway, and the buildings will be sanitised before each service, again to comply with Government requirements.

I guess one question that will likely be raised about this is: Why bother? The online services are working well, the step to getting back to physical services seems to be complicated and less convenient. Other churches have different plans, some deferring this physical return until next year, with others having different events over weekends for various groups of people.

The reality is, we will not be able to get back to ‘normal’ until a vaccine is found, tested and administered to the population. When will that be? It is likely that we will be well into next year before this becomes a reality – and it is possible a vaccine will never be found. Online alternatives, good though they have been, are no substitute for actually having fellowship together in a physical sense. To be able to physically come together, to gain encouragement and support from each other in person, to actually speak to one another – in other words, to have real community – is a precious and valuable thing, and the longer we leave this, the more isolated and lonely we shall become.

However, having said all of this, it is important that we move forward together. What do you think about the plan to start physical services again? Would it be something that you would feel able to participate in? We need to hear from you, and to achieve that we have developed a simple online questionnaire which we would ask you to take a few moments to fill in. It is going to help us to assess the appetite for moving ahead with this plan at this time. The questionnaire is on the website and you can fill it in online. Would you take a moment to do that over the next two weeks – this will really help us with our planning, as we seek to give as many people as possible the best possible experience of worship God in community.

I am sure that this plan raises questions and there is a box on the questionnaire where you can type in any questions you have. Please bear in mind as you do that, that we are all feeling our ways forward here. None of us has been in this situation before and we are all just trying to do our best.

Just finally, may I just say that Jesus Christ knew that this time would come. There is no surprise in Heaven, and He has a plan to give us all that we need to come though this time stronger, more faithful, with our roots going down deeper into Him. It is GRACE that has brought us safe this far, and GRACE will lead us on. Grace from Him, grace to each other.

Thank you.

Your feedback

As James said in his statement we would love to have some of your input into this so we can more effectively plan to meet as many needs as we can. To do this please take a few minutes and fill in this survey for us and if you have any specific questions that you would like to be addressed please let us know and we will try to answer them. Thanks!