Sunday Services

frequently asked questions

Service pattern

If I can’t get to church, can I watch a service online?

Yes you can! We will continue providing services online for the foreseeable future and we estimate that – initially at least – a big majority of our attendees will continue to worship online.

Why can’t we just go back to our old pattern of services?

For 3 reasons:

  • resources: providing Digital Church is just as much work as providing our old pattern of services. We simply can’t provide everything we’ve done for the past 4 months and everything we used to do.
  • safety: our churches require cleaning between different services on the same day. Unless we can do a full clean of the church between services, we are limited to a maximum of one service per day.
  • clergy availability: to reduce the risk of infection, we have decided that clergy should not travel from one church to another on a given Sunday. We only have 3 permanent clergy – Dave, Sarah and Graham/Sami (who jobshare). Our other clergy
  • our curate Roland (who is now reaching the end of his curacy) and retired vicar Mieke – are a wonderful blessing but we cannot presume their availability.

Why can’t we have one service in every church every week?

See answer to Q2

Why do some churches have gaps with no service?

Given that we cannot have a service in every church every week, churches have chosen either to have an occasional gap, or to hold a lay-led service.

Where and how will the Digital Church services be held?

The Digital Church services will be live streamed from All Saints Marlow. There has been a significant investment in the necessary equipment and the tech team are working flat out to get everything ready. Two services will be streamed each week (at 9.15 and 11.00). One of these services will be a public service, the other will be filmed as a behind closed doors service.

Why can’t Digital Church continue as it is now – recorded from home?

One of the things we’ve learned over the past 4 months is that recording and editing the services takes a lot of time – longer in fact than preparing for a service in the church building. An average service has 12-15 separate mini-films that each need to be prepared, recorded, reviewed, transferred, edited together (including adding screen titles), checked and uploaded. For 24 consecutive weeks this has been a huge undertaking from both those in front of the camera and our astoundingly committed tech team. It simply isn’t an option to keep producing these pre-recorded services while simultaneously re-opening our church buildings for Sunday services. Our solution is therefore to live stream the services from All Saints Marlow, even though this will mean the online services may lose some of their personal feel. 7. When will evening services be made available?

This plan includes some Evensong services at Little Marlow. We will keep the provision of other evening services under review.

How long will this pattern of services last?

We will run these services through September and October. In mid-October we will review and decide what to do for November and December.

Who makes these decisions?

Many people from across the parish have had an input into these decisions, including volunteers, tech team, staff team, church councils, churchwardens, clergy and many conversations and emails from individuals. Final responsibility rests with the 4U Parish Leadership Team (clergy, churchwardens plus team treasurer).

Content of services

Will the in-person services be a) ‘back to normal’, b) like our online pre-recorded services, or c) something else in terms of content?

The services will be similar in content and length to the Digital Church pre-recorded services that we have been broadcasting online during lockdown, but with some changes because they will be live (not edited) and in a church building (not in homes / gardens / vineyards). Due to current guidelines, services will not be the same as before lockdown, for the reasons stated in the following points.

Will there be singing and/or a choir?

Though congregational singing is not currently permitted, under the current guidelines our choirs are now able to sing again during services.

Will we be able to take communion?

Some services will offer Holy Communion. At these services, wafers will be offered to those who want to participate but wine will not be distributed. We will ensure these services conform to the guidelines for keeping people safe.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

It is currently the law that everyone needs to wear a face covering in places of worship, unless they are in an exempted category. Exemptions include those involved in leading the service and the bride and groom at a wedding!

Are children allowed to come?

Yes, very much so! We really look forward to seeing our younger members returning to church. Our different churches will be making varying provisions for young people so watch out for details.

Will there be separate groups for children/youth?

Yes – The Lantern and All Saints Marlow will be offering separate groups. Bisham and Little Marlow will consider their family-friendly service provisions in due course. 16. Will there be a creche available?

Sadly the current government guidelines prevent us from opening any creche facilities because of the infection risk they represent. This does not mean that little children are unwelcome – they are still very welcome to come to services, preferably bringing some of their own toys with them.

Will there be any all age services?

Each church will announce its own provision of all-age services.

Will there be refreshments?

No – they are not currently permitted under the guidelines, but we will keep the situation under review.

What will happen to the after-service Zoom meetings?

We plan to continue the after service Zoom meetings, but in a slightly different form. Instead of hosting these centrally, we plan to offer each church a Zoom account to host their own meetings and we are actively seeking volunteers to host these meetings. If you are interested in helping, please contact your vicar or churchwarden.

Keeping safe

Can I give someone a lift to church in my car?

Only if you are permitted to by the current guidelines.

How many people will be allowed in the church?

Each church sets their own limit, according to the size of the building. The current safe limits are: 48 (All Saints Marlow), 15 (Marlow Bottom), 30 (Little Marlow) and 30 (All Saints Bisham). This number may be higher where family groups attend together. The total does not include those who are running the service.

What if too many people turn up?

We will need to observe capacity limits, so people will be turned away once the limit is reached. We will try to prevent this by anticipating correctly the numbers who want to attend and may use pre-booking if it proves necessary.

Can I just turn up to the service or do we need to book?

Each church will announce its own procedures for services. We anticipate that for most services it will be possible simply to turn up.

Will toilets be available?

Yes. We’re grateful to our wonderful volunteer cleaners who are making this possible. Please adhere to the published guidelines around handwashing etc when using the facilities.

If the services will be recorded/streamed, but I don’t want to be filmed whilst I’m there, what provision will there be to avoid being on camera?

We understand that for some people it is very important not to be visible on a publicly streamed service. There will be a section of the church where you can sit to ensure you are never on camera. Please notify the stewards when you arrive and let them know if you wish to receive communion.

Will I need to give my details to help with track & trace? Will my data be kept safe?

Yes – the government requires us to keep a record of everyone who attends the church building for services or private prayer for track and trace purposes. Please record your details on the register provided. This data will be kept safe and destroyed once the requisite period has elapsed.