With the success of the vaccination programme, case numbers falling and an easing of restrictions, the Elders’ and Management Committee have decided to reopen Duke Street URC for Sunday morning worship at 10am on Pentecost, 23rd May 2021. Given the response to our Facebook Live services we are, like many other congregations, going to move to a ‘hybrid’ model of church. This means that the service from the Church will continue to be broadcast using Facebook. Not only will this mean those joining us from further afield can continue worshipping with us, but it also means that our members and friends living locally have the choice to come to Church in person or online. Both ways of accessing the service are equally valid and therefore no one should feel pressure that they need to attend in person through a sense of duty just because it is possible. By the time we reopen on the 23rd of May it is hoped that restrictions may allow households to gather and watch online together, which will create another option if this is preferable.
It is really important to stress that although we have taken the decision to open the building, the service will have to adhere to Government restrictions to minimise risks. Unlike many other congregations we do not plan to operate a booking system unless the demand for space makes this necessary. It should be appreciated that the number of people we can accommodate in the building will be limited. There will be a requirement to have your contact details held for track and trace purposes, hand sanitising will be essential, face masks will need to be worn at all times (unless exempt), everyone will have to remain 2 metres apart (with the exception of household groups) and it may not be possible to sit in your usual seat. Although we cannot sing, the organ will provide music. Unfortunately there can be no opportunity for fellowship before or after the service. The service will also be limited to approximately 30 minutes and we will have to keep the worship space ventilated. In terms of getting to and from Church, the guidelines on car sharing should be adhered to. At the moment it appears these requirements for worship and car sharing apply across all levels of the Government’s strategic framework as we emerge into a new normal.