Covid-19 Updates

29/08/2020

Welcome Back

We are all set to start physically gathering together on Sunday 6th of September 2020. We recognise that with Covid-19 still posing a risk not all our church family will be able to attend in person. The Leadership would like to reassure you that we will continue our Online Ministry, Newsletter, CDundefineds etcundefined As this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we will be prioritising the development of our Pastoral Care Team.

We thank God for the number of people wanting to gather in person. Social distancing and limited capacity require us to hold two services each Sunday and the need to book. The first service will commence at 10.00am, the second at 12.00pm and each will last approximately 40 minutes.

Booking Arrangements

To be added to the attendance list for a given service, you will need to contact us on the church email: office@sunderlandelim.org.uk or the church mobile: 07387 775011. Booking will open at 9.00am on the Monday morning for the following Sunday services. We will need to know how many from your household are attending and which service you wish to attend. Please make us aware of any additional information e.g. shift patterns, flexibility etcundefined We will confirm on the Thursday if your booking request is successful.

We obviously desire that all those requesting to gather are able. However, we may find that one service is over subscribed and may need to ask individuals to attend the other. Over the course of several weeks, we will endeavour to ensure that everyone in our church family who wish to do so, have the opportunity for fellowship.

Online Arrangements

We are needing to slightly amend the timings of our online Sunday morning ministry. Our service will be live streamed at 10.00am on Facebook. We will then have an online gathering via Zoom at 11.00am for 30 minutes hosted by Pastor John.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

I have booked in but can no longer attend?

Please contact us on the church email: office@sunderlandelim.org.uk or the church mobile: 07387 775011 as soon as possible in order to give opportunity for someone else to attend.

I have been feeling unwell, can I still attend?

If you have any of these symptoms: new, continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of or change to sense of smell or taste, then please stay at home, and follow current guidance.

Do you need my name and number?

We will be supporting the NHS Test and Track System and are required to keep a record of who attends our services. If you become unwell and test positive for Covid-19 after attending, please let us know.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

Yes. Places of Worship have been legally identified as buildings where an individual must have in place a face covering prior to entry. There are some exceptions including people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability also children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons).

What can I expect on arrival at church?

There will be signs reminding you to social distance. A Steward will check you are symptom free and direct you to use the hand sanitisers. You will be directed by a steward to your designated seat which you must remain in throughout the service. Please note we are required to ensure adequate ventilation, so doors and windows will be open.

During the Service

Can I move around the building and socialise with other people?

No. To reduce the risk of transmission, you are required to remain in your seat and should limit your interactions with anyone not in your household.

Will there be congregational singing, prayer etc?

Currently, there will be no congregational singing, prayer etcundefined We are constantly reviewing government guidance and will put changes in place as soon as we are able. A limited worship team will operate but during this time the congregation are encouraged to undertake private reflection.

Will there be an offering?

An offering will not be taken during the service, however, to facilitate you being able to give to the Lord and His work, a basket will be available on entry and exit for your offering.

Will there be Communion?

Communion will not routinely be available; however, we are currently investigating options.

Will there be toilets and baby changing facilities?

Toilets will be open adopting a limited entry approach monitored by the Stewards. The disabled toilet will no longer be used as a baby changing facility. The former Parent Room is now to be used for baby changing facilities only.

What facilities are there for children/young people?

Unfortunately, we are not able to currently offer Childrenundefineds Church or SYC and these will continue on WhatsApp. However, our services will be All-Age. During the service everyone in a household must remain in their allocated seating, including children and babies. Our Children and Youth Ministry Teams have put together individually named, age appropriate resource packs. These will be provided at the beginning for use during the service. Please place all resources back in the pack and place on your seats when you leave.

What should I do if I need to leave early or use the facilities?

If during the service you need to leave your designated seating area, please attract the attention of one of the Stewards, who will be wearing a yellow bib and will assist you.

Conclusion of Service

Will there be refreshments?

As Government requires us to encourage all attendees to exit promptly to minimise the risk of contact and spread of infection, refreshments will not be served.

Will we be able to socialize after the service?

No. We are required to ensure that services are concluded in the shortest reasonable time. At the conclusion of the service, Stewards will direct you to exit via the emergency exit side door undefined observing the one-way system and social distancing. Those with wheelchair, pushchair, visual/physical impairment will exit by the main entrance and ramp. To help with this we ask that you remain seated until directed further by a Steward.

Final thoughts

We are looking forward to this next season which again brings new challenges and opportunities for us all. As a Leadership Team we value your ongoing prayers and appreciate your feedback. We recognise that we all need to remain flexible and anticipate changes. We will be reviewing things at regular intervals and taking the necessary action. Please be patient with us as, once again, we are in unfamiliar territory but like the Children of Israel, we know our God goes with us. We may not always get things right and will need to rely on the Lordundefineds guidance, remembering that in all things our primary mission is to reflect Jesus and bring glory to God.

Every Blessing

EPCS Leadership Team


12/08/2020

Praying you are all well and staying safe. Plans are progressing well towards reconvening services within the church building. The cleaning team members have carried out an intensive deep clean of most areas of the church building. Work is continuing regarding the organisation of cupboards, resources etc. to set us up for the season ahead. Derek, Chizenge and Wisdom have very ably improved and widened the path at the side of the church to facilitate a one-way system in and out of the building. 

The recruiting and training of Stewards, Cleaners and Audio/Visual Technicians is in progress and will continue over the next few weeks. If you are able to help with any of these roles and have not as yet been contacted,  please contact the Office asap on office@sunderlandelim.org.uk or on 07387775011. 

We intend to have our first gathering together in the church building on Sunday 6 September 2020. Further practical details will be sent out nearer the time however this is what we know so far:

  • The appropriate wearing of face masks will be mandatory.
  • Hand sanitation will be required on entry. 
  • There will be no congregational singing.
  • There will be a one-way system in place for entering and exiting the building. 
  • Seating will be social distanced and allocated by a Steward. 

Until we know how many of our church family are wishing to attend, we cannot advertise the times of the service, as if numbers are great enough, we may need to run more than one service. Could you please make us aware of your intentions – either to physically attend our church service or continue to watch our online service. It is imperative to our planning that we know who is intending to attend physically as we are limited to the number of people allowed in the building. Please contact us by emailing or texting us asap on office@sunderlandelim.org.uk or on 07387775011 by Thursday 20 August 2020. 


11/07/2020

The Prime Minister announced that places of worship can re-open for public gatherings from the 4th of July. The overriding message from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government is that it is imperative that all leaders of places of worship understand that they are responsible for the safety of their congregants and that their places of worship are designated as being COVID-secure before they reconvene.

Elim’s National Leadership Team (NLT) had already been working on a strategy for reopening and giving guidance to the local church. The decision to reopen individual churches will be made by the NLT following assurance that each church has taken the necessary measures to be deemed COVID secure.

In preparation, we have already carried out a comprehensive risk assessment which was submitted to the NLT on the 22nd of June 2020. This highlighted several issues which need to be addressed with subsequent actions taken.

There are various practical things that need to happen before we can reconvene. These include a deep clean of the building, maintenance of the side pathway to facilitate a one-way system, installation of sanitisation facilities to name but a few.

In the coming weeks, there are numerous opportunities to serve as we prepare our building and work towards gathered worship. We have several roles that we are recruiting to via our ‘Safer Recruitment Pathway’. These include cleaning team member, maintenance team member, online ministry, audio/visual technician and stewards. As it will take some time to complete the recruitment process and receive the required training, we would appreciate your prompt response.

As you can appreciate any future gatherings will be different from those prior to COVID. One example is that public singing may not be possible as we return to gathered worship. Before we rush back to church as it was prior to lockdown, we should consider and ask, “How effective were our church services prior to COVID?” and “What is their purpose?” Are they in line with our mission and values? Or are we simply doing what we have always done?

We give thanks to God for the previous ministries and for all that have faithfully served. Through these unprecedented times of challenge and opportunity, God is calling the Church to ‘reset’ its priorities. The church program as it was in the Spring is unable to resume. As we reflect on the questions above, the Holy Spirit is guiding us. As we are discovering on Wednesdays in ‘Reflections’, we are called to mirror the Early Church, released in power and ministering the life of Christ to the local community. We are to be a community of ‘Disciples-making disciples.

As our nation navigates its way out of lockdown, we are turning our attention to how we try to re-establish some sort of normality. Whilst this involves how we reinstate public gatherings, what is of greater importance is the wellbeing of our church family and the communities we serve. Our church is defined by our people, not our premises. Therefore it is of utmost importance that we begin to consider how we can care for those that the Good Shepherd has entrusted to us. Mental health issues, tensions in relationships, debt, unemployment, loneliness. These are just some of the issues we need to minister into. In response, we are looking to create, train and support a Pastoral Care Team. Please consider if this is an area in which you can serve?

Please pray for our Leadership Team as we navigate this next season.

We would appreciate your feedback, questions, help etc so please feel free to get in touch.

Every blessing,

Pastor John & The Leadership Team


20/03/2020

Dear Church Family and Friends,

Following our Church Leadership Team Meeting recently and recommendations from the National Leadership Team of our movement, we want to bring you up to date with how we are going to facilitate our life together as a church over the coming weeks. We will post updates regularly here on our Facebook Page and in emails/texts etc… when we can.

Sunday Gatherings
All physical Sunday gatherings will be suspended from this Sunday until further notice. We will continue to meet online, with a Facebook live stream at 11am on Sundays. We will be focusing our efforts in online community on Facebook via our Church Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/elimchurchsunderland/ so please make sure you have access to that. If you need help in setting up Facebook, then please let us know and we will do all we can to support you in accessing the Page.

Church Midweek Gatherings
We are intending to have a midweek online Facebook event to include prayer and a short word. More details. to follow

Other special opportunities for online gathering will be communicated as they arise. We are exploring ways of reading Scripture together, sharing prayer requests and strengthening our faith. We have lots of ideas for how to create community online that we look forward to sharing with you over the weeks ahead. To help us in our planning going forward, can you please let us know which social media apps you routinely use or would consider using. The goal will be to create a strong sense of community and encourage growth & discipleship.

All other Midweek ministries and activities are suspended until further notice (foodbank will be running).

Prayer
We have access to God throughout this time, and we want to encourage you to pray personally and as a family. We will be looking at how best to facilitate communal prayer and prayer requests.

Leadership Team
Our Leadership Team will be in communication at least once a week across the period that our physical services are suspended and we will be in touch with you regularly.

Ministering to others and to one another.
We are working hard to support out community and want to encourage each of you to do the same. Whether that is buying extra food for the Foodbank, checking on those whom you know who might be at higher risk, or letting your neighbours know you are there to support and help them, this is a remarkable moment in our nation for us to show the love of God. We are planning to distribute Christian literature and an offer of support throughout our local community.

Pastoral Care
We want to make sure that each of you is being supported as you face the challenges ahead. We have a new mobile phone number for all church communications’ E.g. prayer requests, needing practical support. This will be carried by a member of the Leadership Team throughout this current period to ensure there is support available at all times.


Pastoral care line: 07387775011

Email: office@sunderlandelim.org.uk

We will be regularly checking with those in our church family who are at higher risk.

If you, or someone from church you know, has to isolate or is in need of help please let us know. If you are concerned about anyone, especially our older folk, please get in touch. We will be doing all we can to offer help not just to the church but also to those around us and show them God’s love in practical ways. There may be opportunities for you to help with this so if you are available to provide practical support please let us know.

Take care of yourself and of others
Please continue to follow all the guidelines in relation to good practice and well being. Wash your hands regularly, stay at home if you have any symptoms etc.

Remember that we are in this together.
Elim Pentecostal Church Sunderland is not closing. We are moving to a different way of enabling our life together, and there will be much that God will do in us and through us at this time. We will look back at this season and see wonderful ways in which God has been at work.

As a church, we continue to need your support. Please remember that finances, encouragement, support and serving continue to be important. If you do not already do so, please think about setting up standing orders for your giving. We encourage you to think about setting aside your offering this weekend and giving it when you can. Alternatively, you can make a bank transfer to the Church account. Please get in touch on the number above. Our overheads and ongoing costs remain the same, and some may increase as we try to strengthen our methods of communication, so please think about a one-off gift at the moment if you can. We also want to support those in our church and wider community that need help – so please think about how you can ensure that your support of God’s work continues.

We are in this together, and this season will pass. Remember that Church was never meant to be about Sunday meetings. Our worship and life together, and our witness continues. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to experience the grace of God and share that grace with others. It has rarely been as important for the Church to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’.

It continues to be a privilege to serve you all

Pastor John.
On behalf of Elim Pentecostal Church Sunderland Leadership Team.