Returning to meeting in person

A few thoughts on our motivation and on risk management

At WCC, we have not rushed to return to meeting in person at the Primary School. This is partly because Zoom is working surprisingly well in many ways, partly because many of our congregation were or still are shielding, and partly because of uncertainty around how well sharing the venue would work for the school.

We’ve started working through the risks involved in meeting together, but every step is reinforcing to us that every congregation is unique, and has its own unique situation and risks. It’s become hard to think everything through theoretically, and hence we’re aiming to have a one-off “pilot” Sunday when some of us meet in person, but others can participate equally online from their homes. After this, we can review all of our risk assessments, seek feedback as needed, and make more concrete plans for returning when we are confident that it’s safe to do so.

We’ve mentioned that we’d like to break bread together at our pilot service. Thankfully, there is now such a thing as “communion servings” (a fully-sealed individual cup of grape juice with a wafer) and we believe that by using these, we can break bread together without introducing any additional risk. We’re also looking to make the service very short (perhaps 30-45 minutes) to minimise the need for use of toilets, and to make life easier for parents (as we cannot currently run separate kids’ groups).

Some of you may (very reasonably) be asking the question – if there’s any risk at all, isn’t the most responsible thing to wait? Our concern at this point is to balance the obvious and visible risk of transmitting infection with the less visible but equally real risks of prolonged isolation: loneliness, depression, anxiety and perhaps a decline in spiritual life and connection with the Lord. These are hard things to balance, and ultimately it comes down to a judgment call: please extend grace to those making the decisions if we balance these needs differently from how you would do it!

Lastly, we will keep flexibility about all our in-person plans for the foreseeable future. We will make a decision late in the week as to whether any given Sunday is safe to go ahead – based on government guidelines, the local situation, and any other factors. As we will need to ask people to “book” in advance to let us know they’re coming, we know who we’d need to contact if things change, and can call around if there are any last-minute developments.

If you haven’t already done so, it would be hugely helpful if every household that regularly attends WCC could fill out this survey so that we have a measure of people’s feelings and also of the likely demand for spaces on Sunday mornings.