New Government Guidelines: Yesterday the Executive announced new Covid-19 restrictions. We also received new guidelines from the Diocese of Down and Dromore. This is how it will affect us in St Mark’s parish: Church services (Sundays and mid-week): No changes. We can continue as have as long as we adhere to social distancing (2 m); hand-sanitising; and wear face coverings. Funerals: As of Friday the 16th of October, no more than 25 can attend a funeral. That applies both the the church service and the grave-side / crematorium. Weddings: As of Monday 19th of October, no more than 25 can attend. Baptism: No change as baptism is part of our services. Activites: We will continue with parish activities on Zoom. Sunday School: The children will meet on Sunday at 11.15 a.m. on Zoom. An email will be sent to Sunday School families with login details. For more information, please contact Emma Dale or Sarah Bass.
Face Coverings in Churches The following statement has been issued by the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland:
At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation etc. It, however, remains our responsibility to ensure that our services of worship are safe places for all who join with us. It has become increasingly clear that the wearing of face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing etc., is likely to reduce the spread of coronavirus, thus helping to protect others. Their use is therefore one way in which we can evidence protection for the most vulnerable, support for our health workers, and practical love for our neighbours. Following further recent consultations with public health authorities, we join with Christian church leaders all over this island in formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing, from Sunday 30th August 2020, and earlier if practicable. We understand that some people are exempted from the wearing of face coverings, as outlined in the two jurisdictions. We also recognise that whilst it may not be appropriate for those who are leading from the front during worship, including preaching, to wear face coverings, they should at all times continue to maintain at least 2 metre physical distancing from one another, and 4 metre physical distancing from the front row of the congregation.
The Most Revd Eamon Martin Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Most Revd John McDowell Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Rt Revd Dr David Bruce Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Revd Dr Tom McKnight President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
Advice on exemptions from the wearing of face coverings is available as follows:
Sunday Service At this time we are restricted to one service per week. This occurs at 10am each Sunday morning until further notice
Daily Prayers Every day at 11.00 a.m. a bell will chime in St Mark’s Church. As the bell rings, prayers will be said in the church, asking for God’s guidance and strength for His people and God’s blessing upon us, our neighbourhood and nation in this time of uncertainty. As you hear the bell or know that it is rung, join us wherever you are for a moment in prayer. This is powerful, especially as, at present, we do not gather for services but we, God’s people, are encouraged to pray wherever we are and whenever we can. We welcome others to join with us on Mondays at 11am for prayers.
Private Prayer The Church is open on Wednesday 3pm to 4pm for private prayer. At 3.45pm there is a Bible Reading and prayer. All welcome.
Weekly Email Every week we will send you an email, a prayer letter with readings and reflections, prayers and poems and other relevant information. This is a way for us to stay in touch with you, when we cannot meet face-to-face.
If you wish to receive this weekly letter, please email the Parish Office and you will be added to the list of recipients, you can do so by replying to this email by telephone or by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Church Services Wednesday evening Late Evening office and Sunday Morning worship are available on our Facebook page. At 6.30pm on Sunday a Zoom service of compline is held. Logon details are available in the weekly newsletter.
Parish Office The Parish Office remains attended (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9.00 a.m. to 12 noon). However, we are not open to visitors, but someone is at the other end of the phone and emails are read. Our letterbox, which is in the window, to the left of the entrance door of the Heyn Hall (St Mark’s Parish Hall), is checked daily, where you can leave any correspondence, Free Will Offering Envelopes or suggestions on how we can support each other. Thank you.
The Larder Thank you very much for your support and gifts to the local foodbank, The Larder. We will continue to receive donations, please bring them to the Heyn Hall (St Mark’s Parish Hall), during office hours and leave your donations by the door and we will pass on the donations.
Lastly If we do not have your email or phone number, please send it to us as it will help us to keep in contact with you. During this uncertain period, we will keep in contact with you through email, social media (Facebook and Instagram) and our website. We are here to support you and to listen. And we would love to hear from you; please share your ideas and words of encouragement so that we can pass them on to other parishioners. Thank you.