Update on Re-opening the church building for a Sunday service

The psalm for Morning Prayer today, Psalm 27Open Link in New Window, begins ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?’.

As I start another week during this extraordinary season of our lives, these were just the words I needed to hear. Alongside ‘whom’, and ‘of whom’, we can also say ‘what’ and ‘of what’ then shall I be afraid? I am reminded of God’s love and care for us and His showing us the way in life, giving us purpose, meaning and hope in Jesus. I am reminded also, that this is the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ we are to focus on each and every day. However uncertain life may feel, in God through the presence of Jesus Christ, by the guiding and filling of his Holy Spirit, we can know and light and salvation, without fear, each and every day.

‘Give thanks to God for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136Open Link in New Window)

Today’s letter is about us taking new steps together, as we find new ways of living and loving during this pandemic. This is clearly a seismic event in all our lives, which has profoundly changed so much. This change will impact the future too. We cannot live through such an experience without coming out the other side as different people, and with different priorities. During these past few months, alongside the compassion and care shown for others on the frontline of people’s lives, there has also been a huge searching for God by millions of people, as they seek meaning purpose—and understanding. The Church of Christ—the Body of Christ that is all Christian people, can have confidence in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

‘We have a Gospel to proclaim, Good news for all throughout the earth’

Coming back into the church building

This proclamation continues in the home and streets where we live, the places we work, and where we spend most of our time. As this country hesitantly emerges from lockdown, we also now have the opportunity to come back together physically as a community, in the church building, to praise God and to be fed and encouraged before we go back to our frontlines. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Government legislation and guidance, together with Church of England guidance, means this will be in a very different way. We shall be learning and developing this new way as we go along. But what is important is to start somewhere. It is important to reflect the hope of the Gospel and to take steps of faith.

We shall therefore be returning to St Matthews Church building on Sunday 9th August, for a single church service at 9.30am.

Churchwarden Chris Smith and his working party have been working hard on processing all the national and church guidance and requirements for this. It is complex, and every church building and scenario is different. The priority is to enable a return to the building in a way that ensures safety and wellbeing, and therefore gives us confidence in our return.

Our thanks to Chris and his team for all they are doing to help us.

The working party has the following guidance for coming to St Matthews on Sunday 9th:

  • Reopening Sunday 9th August, service at 9.30 am
  • Looking forward to seeing you but please don’t come if you have symptoms, fell unwell or have been in recent contact with someone who is unwell.
  • Arrive between 9am and 9.25 to give time for the following:
  • Hand sanitiser will be provided but wash your hands before you leave for church.
  • We will register your attendance for Government Track & Trace
  • Maintain Social distancing at all times: Seating is spaced at approx. 2m.
  • Please contact us if you feel particularly vulnerable but would still like to come and we’ll manage your entry/exit/seating.
  • Avoid parking on the forecourt if possible and agree with Church Office if you feel you need to.
  • Bring a mask. This will need to be worn during your time in the church (spares available for those who forget or don’t have one).
  • Watch the YouTube video for details of entry, exit and the preparations we’ve made:
  • Online service is still available every week on YouTube. See St Matthews Bristol YouTube Channel.
  • The service format will be simple summer format. Approx. 35-40 minutes, including live and recorded elements as appropriate.
  • This summer format means that currently there is no separate provision for children and young people’s groups.
  • Stewards will be present to guide you and answer any questions.

We are hugely looking forward to seeing each other again as we take these first steps back into the building. We are also mindful that there will still be those who, for health or other reasons, don’t yet feel ready or able to return to the church building. That is why we are continuing to provide our Online service every week.

As we take this step, please may I ask for your continuing prayer, love, gentleness and patience.

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and an inheritance than can never perish, spoil or fade…’ (1 Peter 1:3Open Link in New Window)

With our love and prayers, in Christ


Rev Ian Tomkins, Vicar St Matthews Bristol

Welcome Back!! Re-opening St Matthews Bristol for Sunday worship on Sunday 9th August

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