Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATES

This page will be updated regularly as the situation develops. We are now able to worship together in church again, but face masks are a legal requirement. For those who wish to worship with us from home, we will continue to live-stream our services.

Thursday 12/5/22

At Tuesday’s PCC meeting, it was decided that we would gradually phase out our current covid measures in line with guidance coming from the Church of England and wider government. From Sunday 22nd May, communion may be received in two kinds again – but of course, whether you choose to drink from the common cup is entirely up to you; intuition is discouraged however, as there is a greater risk of dipping fingers into the wine. It should be noted that the use of a silver chalice and the high alcohol content of the communion wine is a very good antibacterial measure. For the time being, communion will still be administered from a standing, central point as we have been, rather than at the altar rail.

The choir will return to processing at the beginning and end of a service, but will not sing until they are in their places.

The number of roped off pews will be reduced to just hose on the south side of the nave. This is because increasing attendance at our services, particularly on a Sunday morning, has meant that we have been running out of spaces, and those roped-off pews have had to be used anyway.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of these measures, please speak to either the Rector or Churchwardens.

Friday 28/1/22

With the relaxing of government guidance, facemarks are no longer a legal requirement when attending a service. However, we would still like to encourage you to wear a mask where possible when attending a service for the continued protection of others. Our guidance returns to that published on 19th July 2021 and detailed below.

Friday 10/12/21

Following the rising cases of the omicron variant, Government guidance now makes it a legal requirement for anyone over 11 years old attending worship to wear a face mask. Those leading services are permitted to remove their masks, including members of the choir who will remove their masks to sing.

All members of the choir are asked to take a lateral flow test before each rehearsal and service.

Monday 19/7/21

Following the relaxation of COVID restrictions from 19th July 2021, the following procedures will apply to services in St Stephen’s. Please note that these procedures may be subject to change at short notice in light of government or Church of England guidance.

This guidance will be reviewed on or before 31st August 2021

MasksCongregation encouraged to continue to wear masks.Choir remove masks when singing.
Hand sanitiserCongregation encourage to continue to sanitise their hands as they enter and leave church.
Congregation seating50/50 full capacity and socially distanced.The front half of the nave available for those who are comfortable sitting closer together, the rear half of the nave will continue to be socially distanced with alternate rows roped off and only one household per pew.
Choir seatingThose in the choir will continue to be socially distanced 2m apart.
ProcessionsOnly clergy process. If during a hymn, then clergy do not sing whilst walking through the congregation.Gospel read from Lectern and not from the nave aisle.
Congregational singingCongregational singing reintroduced at services (but encourage mask wearing). Those not comfortable singing or being around those singing should sit in the rear half of the nave in the socially distanced area.
Service SheetsContinue to use orders of service and quarantine after each use for at least 48 hours.
Hymn booksReintroduce the use of hymn books, using those on the top two shelves for the Eucharist and those on the bottom two shelve for Evensong.
CommunionCommunion in one kind only (no chalice)Distribution from standing station at the altar step for choir and from crossing for congregation.
The PeaceContinue to share the Peace in a way that avoids contact; no hand-shaking for the time being.

There will be no choir for services during August, although choir members may wish to sit in the choir stalls to ease demand on seating elsewhere in the church.

Wednesday Communion Service and Acorn Café to restart on Wednesday 25th August if the COVID situation hasn’t deteriorated significantly at that point.

Saturday 27/3/21

From tomorrow, Palm Sunday, we will be having a congregation in church again for our services. We must maintain social distancing at all times, and masks must be worn by everyone aged 11 and over. We are able to have a small group of our choir singing at our services but there will be no congregational singing.

Tuesday 22/12/20

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.

Friday 19/12/20

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.

Friday 11/12/20

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.

Wednesday 2/12/20

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.

Wednesday 4/11/20

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.

Saturday 5/9/20

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.

Saturday 11/7/20

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 advice, 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.

Monday 6/7/20

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.

Sunday 14/6/20

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.

Tuesday 24/3/20

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.

Saturday 21/3/20

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.

Tuesday 17/3/20

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:

Please keep in touch with us during this difficult time.  We have a Facebook page or you can email

The full text of the Archbishops’ statement is available here.

Monday 16/3/20

We have released the following Press Release today:

Sunday 15/3/20

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.

Saturday 14/3/20

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 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

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.