Wiltshire Publications

Church doors open for new safe services

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WESTBURY churches have held their first services since lockdown due to the pandemic. Sunday services have been held at All Saints Church in Westbury and Holy Trinity in Dilton Marsh, with a new look, to keep everyone safe.

Church warden Beth Thomas said, “It was lovely to be back. We had to restrict the numbers and they were only allowed in certain pews. There was social distancing of two metres apart and they used hand sanitiser on the way in,

“We held communion but everyone followed a one-way system. On coming to the altar, there is normally bread and wine, but we are just giving bread for health reasons. It all worked out nicely and we are very pleased with how it went and the numbers that came – 36 in total. We held a short service, following guidelines from the Church of England, with no singing as it’s not allowed at the moment. There were no hymn books or papers used and the service words were on a screen.

“Following the service, we opened all the doors and the congregation was asked to leave quickly, so they could meet and talk to each outside if they wanted to, not inside the building.

“People were very pleased to be back. We have been holding services on Zoom, but it was lovely to see each other in the flesh. We are continuing with digital services for people who are not able to come out yet and perhaps are still shielding.

“Before opening, we had to do a detailed risk assessment and checked the guidance. Going forward, we will keep an eye on government advice. We don’t want to rush anything, we wanted to start slowly and get it right. We are all getting used to the new way of being.We could increase the number of services to allow more people to come, but we won’t rush it.

“We have also held successful services in Holy Trinity Church, Dilton Marsh, which is part of the White Horse team ministry. We will now learn from each service and improve ways of doing things as we go forward. 

“The important thing is that people said they felt safe and comfortable. Some people said they felt apprehensive before they came, especially if they have not been out much for a long time.”

Some churches and cathedrals have installed a booking system for a congregation, but Beth explained that they want to  be open to everyone.

Weddings, baptisms and funerals are now able to take place, but with restrictions in place such as only 30 people being allowed to attend weddings. 

“We had quite a few baptisms booked in that had to be cancelled,” said Beth. “If they are happy to go ahead with a small number and can arrange somewhere to go afterwards, they should come and talk it over. We will have to discuss with each family to find out what they are looking for and what we can deliver.”

All Saints Church Westbury and Holy Trinity Church, Dilton Marsh, are both open for private prayer or reflection on Saturday mornings, 10.00am-12.00noon.Church services are now held at All Saints on the first and third Sunday of the month; and at Holy Trinity on the second and fourth Sunday of the month. These services commence at 9.30am. For those who are unable or do not feel confident to go out, Zoom services are continuing.