A message from the head steward for strange times

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A message from the head steward for strange times

Mim MacMahon, who organises the stewarding rota at St Pancras parish in Ipswich, asks the congregation for understanding of her team.

Thanks ever so, everybody who has offered to help with the stewarding. We should be OK for this Sunday and next Sunday, and hopefully a few more weeks to come.

And thank you to everybody who has put up so patiently with myself or some other pocket despot, reminding you all to use hand sanitiser, and come in only at the car park entrance and go out only at the side, and not sit in some pews because they are roped off, in order to maintain social distancing and hygiene. Oh, and follow the arrows that have sprung up on the floor in order to get around the church. And the face coverings … don’t forget the face coverings…

The church looks like a very strange place at the moment. In many ways she’s rather forbidding – not at all the St Pancras we know and love and have attended with loyalty and devotion for, sometimes, many years. She doesn’t look quite herself, with the notices and the arrows pointing this way and that, and the hand sanitiser, roughly where the holy water used to be, and the stewards telling you not to sit in your favourite pew because it’s roped off.

Sadly, we are in the grip of a global pandemic – at risk from an infection that we don’t really understand but which has shown it can be lethal, and spread like the proverbial wildfire over every country on earth. This is not to frighten you, dear brothers and sisters. In order to try and mitigate against the spread of infection we have been asked to put some, well, some rules into operation. The reason for the arrows and the sanitiser and the roped-off pews is not to give bossy articles like me something to do of a Mass-time, it’s to try to protect us all from the spread of the virus.

And to keep our beloved church open, because if the worst were to happen and someone became infected because we were lax in putting the rules into practice, not only would this be our responsibility and lie on our collective conscience, but we would be closed down. Oh, and in the news for all the wrong reasons.

I’m so sorry if I have frightened you. It would be the last thing I ever wanted to do. Like you, I love coming to our church and celebrating with all of you. And you have been patient, good-humoured, and frankly amazing, even while things have been so strange.

Well, I guess “this, too, will pass.” And it will.

In the meantime, forbearing as you are, please, for the sake of the church we love, try to take us stewards in as good a part as possible. We’re doing it for you.  

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay