By Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector, St Mary’s & the Parish of Walthamstow
The arrival of the omicron variant of Covid has led to very high infection numbers in our community and across our congregations. As we did last year, we find ourselves in the difficult position of trying to work out how best to gather for worship whilst also reducing the risk of transmission. We know that omicron is five times more transmissible than previous variants and we are seeing that in the numbers of people who are currently unwell or self-isolating.
We recognise the enormous pressure on our local NHS who have given such tremendous care and support to our community over these past 18 months and we want to do all we can to minimise the possibility of community transmission when we gather for worship.
With this in mind, we have taken the decision to move our worship both outdoors and online. From this Sunday (19 December 2021), there will be no indoor worship in our Parish until further notice. We hope that you will join us for our specially pre-recorded online services for Christingle and Fireside Carols (Christmas Eve), and for Christmas Day worship on Facebook at 10.30am.
Our Carols by Candlelight becomes Carols in the Car Park, and our Midnight Communion service moves (out of respect to our neighbours) to 9pm outside the Welcome Centre. Our Christmas Day 9am communion service will take place outside.
You can see all the changes to our Christmas Services here and in the graphic below.
If you are joining us for in-person outdoor worship, please note our safety measures below:
- We are still asking you to book for in-person, outdoor services so we can prepare the right level of seating.
- Please wear a face-covering for times of singing.
- We will be observing social distance in order to keep people as safe as possible at this time.
- If you are able, please take a Lateral Flow Test before you come and do not come if you have symptoms of Covid (with omicron, these include cold symptoms and fatigue) even if you have a negative LFT.
It may be that, in the coming days, further restrictions lead to more changes to these plans. We will notify you of any changes as and when they happen.
These are difficult times for our whole community. Please be assured of our prayers for you and your loved ones and particularly if you are unwell or self-isolating at this time. And please don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can help you in any way.
Our hope and prayer is that these changes will enable you to join in with worship, to know that you are not alone and to have a sense of celebration and joy.
At Christmas, we celebrate the good news that Jesus, the Light of the World, shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. May the Light of Christ bring you peace and hope in these days.
Revd Vanessa Conant
Rector, St Mary’s & the Parish of Walthamstow