The government’s social distancing regulations coupled with the narrow dimensions of the chapel presented us with a challenge! Having measured everything carefully it became obvious that in the main body of the chapel we could only use the first and fourth pews and an extremely restricted number of chairs in the carpeted area. This would give us a capacity of 8 or 12 if we sat couples on the pews – better than nothing but it would still only provide seating for less than half of our regular congregation.
In order to meet the challenge I have decided to put on an additional Sunday morning Eucharist at 11am. This second service is a temporary solution but it is one that will continue until such time as we can return to being one single congregation gathered round the altar of the Lord.
Natalie, our cleaner, comes in on Thursdays and thoroughly cleans the chapel. We have ensured that she has the recommended cleaning agents for our historical woodwork etc and that she has a full set of PPE.
Midweek services and casual visitors to the Chapel Because of the virus the chapel will only be open for our two Sunday morning Eucharists. We regret that we cannot host any midweek groups at present. In the same way because we have no way of knowing if casual visitors have the virus, and we can’t clean after every visit, nor can we welcome tourists and or other visitors during this time. If approached key holders should apologise and respectfully decline.
What to expect in the Chapel from now on.
Firstly, the chapel will look slightly bare. I have had to clear all books from the bookcases and remove any devotional items, bits of publicity and unnecessary table-top items. Although we initially planned to use plastic chairs in the carpeted area ( so we could wipe them down in between services) we realised that we could simply swap the chairs for new ones after the 10am thus maintaining a welcome degree of comfort!
Secondly, no one will come round taking a collection during the service.
The Bishops, both Anglican and RC, are asking all of us where possible to start using a Standing Order rather than using cash. The reason is that cash then needs to be bagged by a gloved person and left for 72 hours before transfer.
If you can’t change to a standing order, cash is still okay but please, on the first Sunday back, take a number of envelopes away with you so then you can prepare them at home rather than standing in a queue filling them in.
As you can imagine, our chapel income has all but dried up over the last quarter. Bear in mind also that there will now be no income from groups using the chapel as the chapel will only be open on a Sunday morning. In the same way income from tourists and casual visitors has ceased.
Preparing the altar and the sacred vessels for the service
I will bring my own set of vessels etc. and set up for the service so as not involve any servers or sacristans
Please Mask– Wearing a mask in the chapel is now compulsory for congregation members. (I do have a few spares in case you forget yours). Those reading the Epistle or leading the intercessions may remove it during that time. Clergy and those leading worship only wear masks when administering communion.
Sanitise. – As you enter please use the sanitising hand gel to be found on the top of the font.
Collection plate – The wooden plate is by the font for those not yet using Standing orders. Please be generous. All churches have taken a massive financial hit because of Lockdown. This is another reason why that the Bishops are urging us all to move to using a Standing Order as soon as possible. Whether you use cash or do things through Standing order, if you are a UK tax payer, please make sure you sign a covenant form.
I have devised a wedding reception style seating plan in order to accommodate as many people as possible so please only sit in the seat assigned to you. (This will seem horribly school like, but the allocation I’ve devised maximises the number of people we can get in. If a person on their own sits on a pew allocated for a couple then we effectively lose a seat and someone can’t stay)
There is a copy of the seating plans for both services on the wooden screen behind the font.
A SINGLE USE Service sheet will be waiting on your seat. Please take it away with you at the end.
Obviously, we will not be moving around or physically sharing the peace – but there’s nothing to stop us giving each other a ‘wave’ of peace!
The Administration of Communion.
Because our aisle is so narrow we can’t have people passing each other going up or down from the Altar. Please stay in your places and I will bring communion to you.
As you already know we will be giving communion by bread only.
When I come to give you the bread I will be wearing a mask and I will not say the words “The Body of Christ”. Please do not say Amen or make any spoken response.
At the end of the service
When it is over please leave from the back first.
As you leave, please move well away from the door and wait until you get right outside so you can socially distance before you start to chat and catch up.
If you have any questions, please email me. The Revd Cliff Bowman
Chaplain St MM. Ripon
What a difference a few years makes!
As I was busy installing some prayer stations in the Cathedral someone congratulated me on the the anniversary of my ordination.
The last 38 years have gone in a flash but it was only when I got my photo album our and looked at a couple of my photos from my last parish ( Epiphany mass and my last Wednesday morning ‘Mass for Mums and Toddlers’) that it hit me just how much we’ve had to adapt from normal life (as in the photos) to our present situation in the midst of the present pandemic. It’s been a strange experience but we have adapted well. There is a long journey still ahead of us but the risen Christ is at work amongst us and the power of resurrection is unstoppable.
I have received both a formal and a personal letter from James Grieg the N.E. Regional manager of the Leprosy Mission thanking us for the amazing sum of £246 that the congregation of the Chapel raised on World Leprosy Sunday. Thank you for caring for others.
Martin Luther – A voice for our Times?
Those of you who know me will be surprised to find me quoting Luther – I’m not a Luther fan (having said that I’m convinced both sides would have burned me if I’d lived through the reformation!) however, he did have some interesting things to say when he wrote back to the Revd Doctor Johann Hess, who had asked ‘whether it proper for a Christian to run away from a deadly plague?’
Luther points out that some of the great figures of the Old and New Testaments did flee or were helped to escape from peril and danger. On the other hand, he also reminds us that every Christian has a duty of care for his neighbour. Then he goes on to make some very pointed remarks against irresponsible behaviour…
“Others sin on the ‘right hand’. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but light-heartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if he wants to protect them he can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health….
No, my dear friends, that is no good… You ought to think this way…“I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”
Luther goes on to say a great many other things, some of which seem archaic and others troubling for modern readers especially his view on what should happen to those who deliberately endanger others. It is, however, good to remind ourselves that we are not the first generation that has had to navigate our way through outbreaks of deadly illness.
[Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II, ed. Pelikan, Oswald, and Lehmann, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 119–38.]
One of the strange sounding terms that you will hear quite a lot in the coming months is the phrase ‘Quinquennial inspection.’ Every five years (hence quinquennial) we are required, in law, to arrange for the architect to come and inspect the fabric of the church, to point out any work that needs to be done and to write it up in a quinquennial survey that itemises things in order of priority.
I met up with our architect, David Sherriff, and took him round the chapel and grounds when he came to do his inspection on the 17th. We now have to wait a while for the report to be written up and sent over to us.
Annual General Meeting
As you might expect the Annual meeting of the chapel has been put on hold during the present outbreak of the corona virus.
The Revd Cliff Bowman
Chaplain St MM. Ripon