On Trinity Sunday the congregation of St. Alban’s was at long last able to assemble again in the Church of the Dominicans. In close cooperation with the Dominican brothers, seating arrangements have been changed and hygiene precautions scrupulously maintained. During the service all members of the congregation wear masks, the doors are kept open, and afterwards seats and surfaces are wiped with disinfectant. Hymn books have been replaced by hymn sheets which can be disposed of after the service. The service itself is shorter than usual, and now lasts about an hour. Parents of young children in particular appreciate that!
Communion is celebrated diffently too. Instead of forming a circle round the altar, those wishing to receive communion or a blessing go up to the chancel step one by one, and, after disinfecting their hands, receive a wafer from the priest who at this stage is wearing a mask. The cup of wine is no longer shared. Ushers make sure that social distancing is maintained, and all move in one direction.
We are able to sing, too, albeit quietly and wearing masks. Katherine Parsons and David Cowley accompany the congregation on the organ and guitar.
Members of the Ministry Team also organised a Zoom service of Evening Prayer on Sunday evenings for all those who preferred not to take part in services at the Dominicans. This Sunday evening service will now be replaced by an online Evening Prayer meeting on Tuesday evenings at 18.30h.
Being back in church together, albeit under rather strange circumstances, has been very much appreciated. Elisabeth says: “Ravie de retrouver les sourires et les petits gestes d’amitié des membres de notre église. C’est quand même mieux que les attitudes figées devant l’écran Zoom qui déforme les voix…! And Victoria: “Through our faith, we can share the same values – that we want to share God’s grace, love with those in need.” It is indeed good to see one another again face to face, even at a safe distance, and to be able to share in the Eucharist again. Church is about coming together to worship and give thanks – and to celebrate a community which is open to all. Even if at the moment we cannot meet for coffee after the service,only on the pavement outside the church instead, we hope to maintain the caring and sharing spirit of St. Alban’s even in difficult times.