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Welcome back in!

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Jul, 2020 09:40 AM

This week saw many of our churches unlocking for worship for the first time in over 100 days.

While not all churches were able or safe to open, those who did worked hard to create a safe and physically-distanced environment for a new version of worship allowed under the present restrictions.

There was no hymn singing and where the Eucharist was able to be offered, normally the sacrament of both bread and wine, there was no common cup and worshippers sat 2 metres apart.

While most of our Ministry Teams decided to offer a blend, continuing their popular online worship, while opening the buildings for one or occasionally 2 Sunday services, it was the chance to return to church that made it on to social media.

Across the Diocese, people posted about their first day back.

Our Rural Hope Programme Manager Sarah Keen, a Licensed Lay Minister in the Beaminster Area Team, posted:

"One of the biggest debates in Church circles as Lockdown begins to lift is what will church look like in the new normal. Well, as we go back to services in church for the first time today, we’re about to find out."

Branksome St Aldhelm posted:

"What an absolute joy to be able to share our services both online and in person today for the first time in 3 months. We really hope and pray that this is the start of a return to a "new normal", one that is more open, more loving and more forgiving than the 'old normal'."

Our Dorset RFO Canon Richard Hancock posted a picture at the altar of St Mary's Church in Sixpenny Handley saying:

"Back in church for the first time today."

Over at St James in Poole, their first service made it onto the Radio. Canon Lucy Holt posted after the service:

"Feeling very overwhelmed by the sheer fact of seeing some of our Church family after such a long time. It was an emotional time back together and we even brought tears to the eyes of the lovely Emily from Radio Solent.

"God's mercies are new every morning and his steadfastness is great, feel the reality of this today as we start a new phase of Church life. Feeling very blessed to be here in Poole and privileged to lead such a lovely Church."

You can listen to the Radio Solent broadcast here.

Those who physically came back to church for the first time in over 100 days were greeted warmly - and with hand sanitiser - and were asked to leave their details, in line with Track and Trace guidelines.

Despite this new ritual that they had to undertake at the start of worship, those who attended a service inside our buildings were clearly thankful for the opportunity to return.

And for most it was the ability to once again receive consecrated bread, as a memorial of Christ's death and the symbol of his risen life, that meant the most:

"Experienced my first communion in too long, it was so special" one said.

"Being back in the building receiving communion after so long was so very special, praying physically alongside with others likewise" another said.

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