This page will be updated regularly as the situation develops. Having had a period when we could worship together in St Stephen’s Church, we are now entering another period of lockdown which means our services will return to online only.
Due to the increase in Covid-19 cases locally, and being placed in Tier 4, with immediate effect, all of our services will be online only, with no congregation in church. We know this will disappoint some of you who were hoping to join us for our Christmas Morning Eucharist, but we hope you will understand. Please stay safe.
Today it was announced that Kent will be amongst the areas moving into Tier 4 from Sunday 20th December. However, worship is allowed to continue and will do so as planned over the Christmas period, except for the planned Crib Service activities on Christmas Eve will now be replaced by an online service that will be shared at 2pm on Christmas Eve. Click here for details of all our Christmas Services.
There will be no services taking place in St Stephen’s on Sunday 13th December. Instead, a pre-recorded service of Choral Mattins will be available online, including a sermon from the Bishop of Dover. There will be a Sung Eucharist on Sunday 20th December led by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, and our Carol Service will be available online at 6pm that evening.
Coming out of the four week lockdown, Kent is now in tier 3. This means that we can once again have a congregation at our services, however, we must maintain covid-safe measures, ensuring that we maintain 2m social distancing at all times, wearing a facemask throughout the service, and we must not socialise with anyone from outside of our own household. Our choir will sing at our services, but congregational singing is not allowed at the moment. Our 10.30am Sung Eucharist and 6.00pm Choral Evensong services will continue to be live-streamed for those who wish to worship with us at home, both regular members of St Stephen’s Community, and those who live further away and have joined with us through the internet from around the world.
As England goes into a four-week lockdown from tomorrow until the beginning of December, we will be unable to have a congregation at our services. However, we will continue to live-stream our worship on YouTube, and links will be available on the front page of our website.
From this Sunday, both our 9.30am Eucharist and 6pm Choral Evensong services will be open to those wanting to attend in person at St Stephen’s, and live streamed on YouTube; they will then available to watch at any time afterwards on our website. We look forward to welcoming you to join us to worship however you choose to share with us.
Whilst our main services will continue to be shared online so that the largest number of people can share in them, we will now be offering a said Communion Service in Church at 9.30pm on a Sunday morning. However, we do need continue to observe social distancing advise, and unfortunately St Stephen’s is quite a small church, therefore if you wish to attend the service, you must let Rev. Kevin Maddy (Priest in Charge of St Stephen’s) know in advance, no later than Thursday before the Sunday that you wish to attend. It may not be possible for everyone to attend who wishes to, but we will continually monitor numbers and make changes to our provision as we are able.
St Stephen’s continues to be open for private prayer now on a Wednesday afternoon between 1pm and 4pm. This change of day helps us to ensure the church is safe to open on a Sunday, more details about which will be available soon.
After nearly three months of the church building being closed, we are pleased to be able to open St Stephen’s church building for private prayer only on Tuesday afternoons between 1pm and 4pm, commencing this Tuesday, 16th June.
The church will be supervised at all times, and a maximum of 11 people will be able to enter the church at any one time. If there are more than this number then you will be asked to wait outside until there is space.
At all times it is essential to observe social distancing guidance, maintaining at least 2m distance between you and others from another house. You will be asked to use hand gel on the way in and out of church, and to clean the space in which you sit with an anti-viral wipe as you leave (Materials to do this will be provided).
St Stephen’s is a building that is nearly a thousand years old, and wasn’t designed to make social distancing easy, so please be patient and be considerate of others.
We will be reviewing this regularly over the coming weeks.
Following the Prime Minister’s request for everyone to work from home where possible, and further guidance from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, St Stephen’s church building is now closed at all times, and we are no longer able to live stream services from there. However, we will continue to worship together through our website. Keep an eye on our Live Worship page for more details.
With public worship currently suspended across all churches, you can join us online to share our worship this Sunday. Rev. Kevin Maddy, Priest-in-Charge of St Stephen’s, has prepared a Podcast for Mothering Sunday which is available here. In the evening, our regular service of Evensong will continue and will be live-streamed here.
Following directions from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all public services at St Stephen’s have been suspended until further notice, along with meetings and rehearsals. However, the church will be open for private prayer between 10am and 4pm each day once we have sorted out some practicalities – we will let you know as soon as this is in place.
Alongside the resources prepared by the Church of England, we will be putting together some ‘virtual’ services of readings and music, especially as we head through Holy Week and Easter. These will be available on our website: www.ststephenscanterbury.net
The full text of the Archbishops’ statement is available here.
We have released the following Press Release today:Press-release-corona-virus-1
As of today, we have decided that we will not be serving refreshments after our Sunday Eucharist and the Acorn Cafe will not be meeting on a Wednesday morning. Both of these will be until further notice. Apologies for those who will miss these, but I’m sure that you understand why.
This week, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued revised guidance to reduce the risk of passing on the virus as much as it is possible whilst still continuing to worship together:
“It is our view, in light of the continued increase of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom, that it is now necessary to suspend the administration of the chalice as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace, blessing or ‘laying on of hands’.”
We have also been advised to distribute Communion standing to avoid successive people touching the rail.
At St Stephen’s there are several things that we are planning to implement to try and keep us as safe as possible. Firstly, please don’t come to a service if you are ill. For those that are unable to make it to church and that have access to the internet, we are experimenting with live streaming our services. Go to www.ststephenscanterbury.net if you wish to view these. It is only intended to film those who are leading the service, but if anyone has any questions about this, please speak to Steve.
Please don’t be offended if you are asked to pick up your own hymn book and order of service when you arrive at church, or if you are asked to pour your own tea or coffee in the hall afterwards.
In order to avoid handling the collection plate we will have a bowl at the back of church for any cash donations. If you would like to set up a standing order instead then please ask Alex Knight or Peter Brown for a form.
As we don’t have washing facilities in church, it would be good practice to wash hands before coming to church and use your own hand sanitiser.
Don’t forget that you can keep in touch with what’s happening at St Stephen’s by having PewsNews delivered directly to your email inbox. Sign up by visiting www.ststephenscanterbury.net/keepintouch
A prayer from our Bishop in these difficult times:
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.