8am and 9:30am on Sundays Hart Street, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2AU

City Church

THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN, HENLEY-ON-THAMES

Churches open for services – Covid-19

Services continue in our churches on Sundays, at 8am and 9.30am at St Mary’s Henley, and 11.15am at St Nicholas Remenham.  At St Mary’s we continue with largely said services, with just the psalm sung by a cantor and some excellent organ voluntaries from our Director of Music.  We give thanks for the falling numbers of new Covid-19 cases, but we continue to maintain strict social distancing and hygiene in church and encourage people to carefully consider their own health and that of those around them before deciding to attend. 

Please think about whether or not it is advisable for you to attend, and carefully follow the safety guidance in church if you do come.  If you decide that it is not sensible to attend, worship from St Mary’s will be uploaded to our Youtube page.  Sermons are uploaded to the St Mary’s website and can be found here.  

Morning Prayer: Tuesday – Friday at 9am
The Holy Eucharist: Tuesday 7.30pm; Wednesday 11am; Thursday 10am; Friday 12noon.

We would encourage any visitors to follow the advice available. Please wear a face covering at all times, use the hand sanitiser provided on entry and on leaving church, use the anti-bac wipes provided to sanitise the pew / seat you use before you leave. Thank you for your co-operation.


Church opening

St Mary’s will be open until 3pm on Sundays, and on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm-5pm.  Moving to fuller opening is dependant on volunteers coming forward to help supervise visitor compliance with hygiene rules.

St Nicholas Remenham, in a much less busy location, will be open each day from roughly 9am-5pm.

Who should come to church?

People who have Covid-19 symptoms must not come to church – the key symptoms to look out for are a temperature, a new continuous cough, and/or changes in your sense of taste and/or smell.

People who are currently shielding are advised not to come to church.

People who are vulnerable, either because of age or underlying health conditions, are not encouraged to come to church.

How can I attend church safely?

Church will not be exactly the same as it was before lockdown.  For the foreseeable future, the following changes will be in place:

  1. Everyone will be asked to sanitize their hands on arrival using the sanitizer provided
  2. Everyone will be asked to provide their name and a telephone number on arrival so it is possible to trace contacts in the (relatively unlikely) event of a church-based outbreak
  3. 2 metres social distancing between individuals (or households) is to be observed; please take particular care when arriving and leaving; seating positions have been pre-marked (St Mary’s only); the only exception is when receiving Holy Communion from Fr Jeremy
  4. The Peace will not be shared
  5. Holy Communion will be offered under one kind only; the chalice will not be offered to the people
  6. The words of distribution (“The body of Christ” or similar) usually said to each communicant will be said to everyone together after Fr Jeremy has himself received the sacrament; all who intend to receive reply “Amen”; the sacrament will be administered by Fr Jeremy silently
  7. Holy Communion will be received standing, not kneeling
  8. There will be no singing
  9. Service books will be quarantined, so each book is used only once a week, removing any risk of transmission
  10. There will be no refreshments offered after services
  11. Fr Jeremy will be using strong hygiene measures at the altar.

We are now asked to strongly advise people to wear face protection in church.  Fr Jeremy will wear a face cover during the administration of Holy Communion, but not at other times, as we think it will make it harder for people to hear him, and being a good distance away from everyone else we think the risk of transmission is very low.  Communicants are also advised to sanitize their hands before and after receiving the sacrament.

Finally, in your joy at once again seeing your brothers and sisters in the Lord, please refrain from handshaking, hugging, kissing or other physical manifestations of affection.

Please also note that there are many opportunities to worship at St Mary’s on weekdays, at services which are usually very thinly attended.  The same safety rules will apply at all services.

What is offered for those who cannot attend?

It is not practicable to continue Church at Home as well as offering Sunday services.  We are however going to attempt to livestream our 9.30am Sunday service from St Mary’s.  This raises technical and legal questions; we will do our best!  We are recording the services and upload them to YouTube, through Fr Jeremy’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF0WRLKWtkgWJjZw_d4S6Mw/ . We had hoped to live-stream the service, so that you can take part at 9:30am, but this is more technically complex than we had first thought. The video will appear on our channel on Sunday.

I realise that these guidelines will seem over-restrictive to some; others will be anxious about resuming public worship at all.  Everything will be kept under review, and we hope and pray that the virus continues to retreat, allowing for a further easing of restrictions and a fuller resumption of our worship.

Please continue to pray for the church as we adjust to our changed and changing situation; for those in secular positions of authority and responsibility, and those on the front line in caring for the sick and delivering vital services; and for those who are sick, those who are anxious, and those whose livelihoods are threatened.

I am very much looking forward to seeing many of you on Sunday.