Methodist Central Hall Westminster and CORONAVIRUS (COVID–19).
The Leadership Team of MCHW meeting on 11 March 2020 to agree a number of practices and policies relating to the Coronavirus pandemic. These will be implemented immediately, and revised and updated as necessary, and relate not only to all MCHW worship services, but also all midweek groups and meetings.
1. Door handles
Except for fire doors, the doors of the Great Hall, Chapel and church meeting rooms will be left open during services and meetings so that members do not need to touch door handles to enter or leave the rooms. Please keep the doors open and do not try to close them.
For the time being our offerings in Sunday worship services will be taken differently. Bags will not be handed from one person to another along rows. Instead, offering collectors will stand with bags at the front of the Church or Chapel and members will come forward and drop their offerings into the bags. One collector will go to less mobile members to receive their offering.
The second (benevolent) offering taken at Communion services will be a ‘retiring collection’ with collectors with bags or receptacles standing outside the open doors of the Church or Chapel. At midweek services in the Chapel the current practice of a basket left outside the door will continue.
Any Church meetings that collects money should be done with the least human contact involved, and all those who handle collection money must wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser immediately afterwards. Using contactless card payments in available and encouraged.
3. Orders of Service, Outlook and any Flyers etc.
Orders of Service etc. will continue to be produced for Sunday services in the immediate future, though we will be moving quickly to reduce their use, as much as possible, and rely on overhead projection instead. Orders of service etc. will not be distributed by door stewards, but will be placed on a table where members will collect them as they enter Church or Chapel. At the end of the service members should take them away, or drop them into a receptacle for recycling. They must not be used by more than one person. A few large print copies will continue to be available for those of poorer sight.
If the decision to end multiple copies of paper documents is taken, the information in Outlook will continue to be given verbally, and on screen or by larger posters as much as possible.
4. Hymn books and service books
For the time being these will not be used. The necessary words of liturgies or hymns will be placed in printed orders of Service or overhead projection slides.
5. Counting the collection
The ‘counting team’ should wear rubber gloves, which will be provided, avoid touching their faces while counting and should wash their hands thoroughly and/or use hand sanitiser immediately afterwards.
6. Coffee, Tea and refreshments.
On all occasion those who are preparing or serving food or beverages must have washed their hands and all utensils thoroughly. The aim is to have the fewest number of people touching cups, plates, biscuit tins, etc. As much as possible we will be using paper cups and disposable cutlery. Ideally, food items should be individually wrapped.
All Church groups are asked to strongly consider suspending all but tea, coffee and individually wrapped and handled foodstuff for the time being.
7. Church meetings
For the time being all Church meetings can go ahead, though the Church leaders will closely follow any further guidance or instructions given by other authorities, and this may affect our regular meeting and worship. Church and Church group leaders will monitor whether Church meetings can continue to meet during this period of time. Everyone involved is encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser, and reduce personal contact as much as possible.
Be especially careful in relation to children. To this end we will not be using the Bouncy Creche for the time being, and another space will be provided for very young children and their parents/guardians. Special care regarding washing of hands and eating will be taken in JC Live and YPF.
Anyone with cold or flu symptoms should not attend Church services or meetings for the time being. Similarly, older members and those with medical conditions causing weaker health and greater vulnerability should not attend church for the time being. This is an act of mutual care and concern, and is not a desire that people ‘give up’ Church! The Church is preparing for the possibility that services may be streamed more regularly and sermons will continue to be found on line via the Church website.
8. Pastoral visiting in care homes, hospitals and homes of poorly people
Elderly, weak and poorly people are most likely to have low immunity and are least able to fight the coronavirus. For this reason hospitals and care homes are discouraging or even prohibiting visiting. Consequently for the time being our pattern of pastoral care, by both ministers and pastoral leaders, will change. Physical visits will lessen and phonecalls to maintain contact and prayer will be used. Friends visiting friends in the congregation must do so with care and mutual agreement.
9. Services of Worship/Holy Communion/Healing
Communion Stewards will continue to wash their hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizer regularly in the preparation of communion.
The Chalice will be placed on the Communion table but will not be used for communion for the time being. Small glasses will continue to be used for the time being, but members will take the small glass from the receptacle rather than have it handed to them. The Church leadership may consider giving
Communion in ‘one kind’ only as the near future unfolds.
Ministers and those assisting in the administration of communion will continue to use hand sanitizer immediately before distribution. For the time being the bread will be placed into the hands of communicants with as little skin contact as possible.
A prayer of blessing – rather than communion – will still be given when requested, but will not involve hands laid directly on the head for the time being.
We will continue to share the words of the Peace but it will not involve greeting others by direct contact for the time being.
Services of healing prayer (including Healing Encounter and Healing Space) will continue to offer prayer ministry but be guided by the general guidelines and requirements in this document. The practice of anointing with oil will not take place for the time being.
At all services and throughout them we ask all members to refrain from hugs and kisses, reducing bodily contact is the aim. Handshakes – whether between members of the congregation – or by the minister or ‘welcomers’ to members of the congregation entering or leaving Church – should not take place at the present time. Consequently, ministers will be greeting and saying farewell to you with smiles and words, rather than handshakes and hugs!
10. Updates of these guidelines are expected to be needed regularly and will occur as necessary.
Martyn Atkins – 12 March 2020