Pioneering parishioners in rural Norfolk re-open
Four parishes in rural Norfolk have shared energy and resources to re-open one of their buildings for public worship. A correspondent from the benefice reports.
During a zoom conference call, representatives from all four parishes in the Middlewinch Benefice decided to open one of the four churches in the group. They chose St Mary’s in Middleton, mainly because of the internal layout lent itself to achieve excellent social distancing. North Runcton and East Winch had already opened their doors for private prayer.
The Rector Riaz Mubarak and his family led the necessary deep cleaning, and PCC members from each parish saw to the necessary reordering to meet Covid 19 regulations, resulting in a great deal of camaraderie. Finally, the first service was held on Sunday 16 August.
Possibly helped by a warm dry day, 22 parishioners from around the Benefice attended, which was considered a good response after a five-month absence from joint worship and the ever-present threat of the Coronavirus.
To begin with, a candle was lit as a symbol of the presence of Christ. It was not possible to enjoy the usual uplifting hymn singing, but thanks to the IT wizardry of two members from East Winch, hymns were played through the system, with words and graphics displayed on a projector screen.
The service provided the opportunity for a second reading of the Banns of Marriage, the first being having been read during private prayer at North Runcton the previous week. There were no objections.
Having completed track and trace, gone through hand sanitising operations and donned face masks on arrival, most people immediately went to find where they were able to sit. This prevented the usual pre-service chat.
This was also the case at the end of the service when, without the usual refreshments, folk did not stay for the usual “Mardle”. While many excellent community activities have emerged because of the pandemic, there is a large gap in collective community work by the churches and the personal rewards which ensue. That said, the few short conversations which were achieved post service brought great pleasure.
Through the combined effort of the PCCs, a slow, steady and safe start has been made to public worship in the Middlewinch Benefice. It is to be hoped, in the light of experience, this will grow to the point where consideration can be given to opening other churches in the Benefice for public worship in the not too distant future.
The next service at St Mary’s will be held on Sunday September 6 at 10:30 when there will be a celebration of Holy Communion and harvest time. All are very welcome.
Pictured above is Rev Riaz Mubarak with a parishioner